Ex-Apprentice star wins £50k for herbal tea firm

Cindy Ledgerwood studied herbal medicine after a stint on The Apprentice. Picture: Greg Macvean

Cindy Ledgerwood studied herbal medicine after a stint on The Apprentice. Picture: Greg Macvean

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A FORMER Apprentice TV star is brewing up fresh success with her fledgling herbal tea firm after landing a £50,000 lump sum.

Colourful Cindy Ledgerwood, 37, was a candidate on the fourth series of the hit BBC show in 2009, making it through to the final five before being “fired” by Sir Alan Sugar, pictured.

Now her expanding business, Miss IntegriTea, has secured Scottish Enterprise funding following a successful pitch in a Dragon’s Den-style competition.

Asked whether her Apprentice experience had given her an advantage, she said: “To be honest I don’t think it made any difference at all.

“I’m passionate about this business and I like to think that it was the strength and quality of the product that won the day not my TV past. That all seems so long ago now, but of course I understand that is what people are first drawn to.”

She added: “I was very naive going into The Apprentice, I had never even seen an episode. I thought it was a proper serious business show.”

Established three years ago, Miss IntegriTea currently does most of its trading either online or at fairs and shows and the money will be used to employ a production manager and secure retail premises on Easter Road.

The Scottish Enterprise EDGE (Encouraging Dynamic Growth Entrepreneurs) final saw her take on 30 other Scottish companies before a judging panel which included Chris van der Kuyl, chairman of Entrepreneurial Scotland (ES), Ewan Brown, chairman of Scottish Financial Enterprise, and Lucinda Bruce Gardyne, founder of gluten-free food brand Genius, at the RBS conference centre in Gogarburn.

Each made a three-minute pitch followed by a seven-minute question and answer session with the judges – after this only seven were awarded cash.

Ms Legderwood said: “We are ecstatic to have won such a prestigious award and to be recognised out of over 200 entrants.

“The money will allow us to purchase retail premises on Easter Road whilst also updating our packaging. It’s a real shot in the arm for the business. Currently we have three staff so we hope to take on one more, maybe even two.”

Miss IntegriTea specialises in hand-blended herbal tea such as Scottish sleep tea and clear skin tea for the treatment of eczema and psoriasis. The range also includes teas for the menopause using sage, motherwort, rose petal, vervain and lemon balm; another for hair, skin and nails which contains horsetail; and DigesTea for intestinal health and indigestion as well as others for sleeping and dealing with anxiety.

Following The Apprentice, Ms Ledgerwood, who will be manning a stall at this weekend’s Royal Highland Show, spent 18 months completing a herbal medicine degree at Napier University.

A spokeswoman for Scottish Enterprise said: “Congratulations again to all the winners, and to the finalists – you make us proud to support Scottish business.”

Six cash awards were presented separately to young entrepreneurs aged 18 to 30 as part of the Young EDGE scheme, co-ordinated by The Prince’s Trust.