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Entrepreneur goes hell for leather with handmade bag business

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A 23-YEAR-OLD woman is using her flair for design to establish a real leather bag and accessories business, which she makes by hand from her workshop in Machynlleth.

Elin Evans makes bags and belts from leather, taking commissions to design bespoke items for customers locally and across the UK under her business name Elin Angharad. She specialises in reusing second-hand leather products – from jackets to shoes – which often hold sentimental value for her customers, that she works into her new designs

Elin stumbled into leather work by chance during work experience in her second year Artist Design & Maker degree at Cardiff Metropolitan University, where she had the opportunity to work for a short time with a local shoemaker in Machynlleth, Ruth Emily Davey. Here, she fell in love with working with leather and focused the rest of her university coursework around leather products.

After graduating, Elin discovered a space in Machynlleth town centre where she set up her workshop space and has made over 70 commissioned products since the start of this year. Her designs include everything from small clutch bags and wallets, to oversized tote bags, ranging from £90 to £270.

She said: “I was nervous to take the plunge and pursue my designs as a full-time business venture because I wasn’t sure if I had the clientele to make it viable, but in such a short amount of time the orders have rocketed. I rely on social media heavily to market my products and it’s a great way of chatting to potential clients about what they’d like me to create.

“Starting a business in a rural community brings with it many challenges, but it also brings many benefits, including having loyal customers and not having to compete with the ‘fast fashion’ culture. I have strong roots in the area, and I’m a member of YFC Wales, which gives me freedom to have fun out of the workshop, which can be an intense environment for a young business person.

“I would like to work further afield at some point, but Machynlleth is a great starting point for me – I feel comfortable to explore here.  It was important for me to start my business journey in an area that I know and I love making myself and the business a part of the community.”

In only a few months of trading, Elin has been approached by a stockist, Siop Mirsi in Pwllheli, and aspires to work with more stockists, both locally and further afield, in the future.

She continued: “I’ve been overwhelmed by the demand for my products which has kept me really busy during the last few months, but I’m hoping to find time soon to create stock to allow me to venture to produce fairs across Wales. I have set myself a goal to have a stall at next year’s National Eisteddfod in Llanrwst, so by then I hope to have plenty of products to sell.”

Elin developed her business with the help of Big Ideas Wales, the youth entrepreneurship service in Wales. Big Ideas Wales is part of Business Wales and is funded by Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund.  The service is aimed at anyone between the age of 5 and 25 who wants to develop a business idea.

Earlier this year, Elin joined a cohort of 50 other budding young businesspeople at the Bootcamp to Business residential event in the Urdd Centre in Bala, a free three-day workshop hosted by Big Ideas Wales. Bootcamp gives young entrepreneurs the chance to learn and hone their business skills with advice and mentoring from successful Welsh businesspeople.

Speaking of the experience Elin said: “I learned a lot at Bootcamp and it wasn’t until I was putting what I’d learnt into practice in my work that I realised just how valuable it had been. It’s a great starting point for young Welsh people with a business idea who need guidance and the assurance to get it off the ground.”

In the future Elin hopes to start using leather from more local sources. She said: “Being from an agricultural background, traceability is an important aspect of what I do. Although the traceability of leather is hard, if not impossible, to determine in some cases.

“I am aware of some tanneries in the UK that I would like to visit in future, once my business is more established. It has been a passion of mine to explore the process of turning a skin into a leather hide, and I hope to fulfil this in future.”

David Bannister, a Big Ideas Wales business advisor has been working closely with Elin offering advice to help her develop her business further. He said: “It’s no surprise to me that Elin has seen such high demand for her products as she is a very talented designer. She’s thrown herself into the responsibility of owning a business and learnt a lot quickly. I’m confident her enthusiasm and talent will make her business a great success.”

For more information visit https://www.elinangharad.cymru/ or https://www.instagram.com/elin_angharad/

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Winners of the Ceredigion Marine Litter Reduction competition announced

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THE WINNING designs were announced on 5 March for a competition held at five primary schools across Ceredigion. The task was to design a poster that will be used as an accreditation to businesses who are reducing their use of plastics and packaging.

Year 5 and 6 pupils from Ysgol Gynradd Aberaeron, Ysgol Cei Newydd, Ysgol Gynradd Bro Sion Cwilt , Ysgol Gynradd Aberporth and Ysgol Gymunedol Craig Yr Wylfa participated in the competition. Across the schools, the five best designs were chosen as winners. The winners and eight runners up received certificates for their achievements.

The winning posters will be awarded to businesses and organisations who support plastic reduction, support packaging reduction, allow customers to re-fill single-use water bottles and have stopped providing plastic straws. Schools who commit to reducing their plastic will also be awarded accreditation posters.

Melanie Heath is the Cardigan Bay Marine Protected Area Officer for Ceredigion County Council. She said, “Following a successful plastic reduction pilot project in Llangrannog in 2016, we wanted to reward or accredit businesses and organisations who had reduced their use of plastic.

With this year’s project, we wanted to involve our young people, who care passionately about issues such as plastic pollution and climate change. We wanted to give them the opportunity to contribute to the campaign and to have their voices heard.”

To support the running of the project this year, Ceredigion County Council received a grant from Natural Resources Wales.

Linda Ashton, Senior Partnership, Access and Recreation Officer, Natural Resources Wales said, “We support communities and partners through our grant aid programmes to help more people learn about and enjoy our natural environment.

It is great to see young people getting involved with projects like this and encouraging others to reduce their plastic waste. Helping to protect the environment of Wales for the future.”

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New Quay RNLI curry and quiz night

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NEW QUAY RNLI Fundraisers are hosting the annual curry and quiz night at New Quay Yacht Club on Friday 22 March at 7.30pm. The fundraising team is also looking for new members to help raise funds to save lives at sea.

Tim Richards, New Quay RNLI Fundraising Manager said, “Everyone is welcome to join us for a fun evening at the Yacht Club. The evening will begin with a home cooked curry and finish with a light-hearted quiz to get your brain cells working. So why not join us to tickle your taste buds and test your general knowledge while raising money for lifeboats at the same time?”

The New Quay Ceredigion Fundraising Branch are volunteers that devote their time to raising vital funds for the RNLI, the charity which saves lives at sea. They organise and host a variety of family friendly events throughout the year, from fish supper evenings to the Christmas Fayre.

Tim added, “We are looking for new members to join our fundraising team, no experience necessary but lots of enthusiasm and ideas are very welcome. We meet on average once a month so if you are interested please do not hesitate to contact me at tim.dysonrichards@gmail.com or New Quay Lifeboat Station on 01545 560311 to help make a difference.”

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New Quay RNLI help rowers prepare for Celtic Challenge

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NEW QUAY RNLI recently assisted Clwb Rhwyfo Llangrannog Rowing Club with their training for this year’s Celtic Challenge.

The biennial challenge sees teams of 12 people rowing through the night from Arklow in Ireland to Aberystwyth in Wales, a journey of approximately 97 miles. The race is an extreme test of endurance and usually takes between 15 and 24 hours, depending on the weather.

 

Two New Quay RNLI crew members, Laura Mears and Heather Rees-Gaunt, are members of the Llangrannog Rowing Club and Heather will be taking part in the gruelling challenge which is set to take place between May 3-6, 2019.

As part of their preparations, the rowing team took part in a structured exercise with lifeboat crew members simulating a person overboard incident so that the rowers gained experience in manoeuvring the boat and recovering a person from the water. New Quay RNLI Community Safety Adviser, Roy Fenner, also gave advice on safety equipment and means of calling for help.

 

Heather, who has previously rowed the Indian Ocean from Australia to the Seychelles, breaking two world records, said, “These training exercises with the RNLI are crucial for our preparations as we will be rowing in the Irish Sea at night, which can be a dangerous place to be if you’re not fully prepared. The person overboard training helps each team member know what to do if the situation arises.

“After the training session, the feedback from all the rowers was hugely positive. Doing the practical training has installed a huge element of confidence in dealing with the ever-changing scenarios that can take place at sea. I know from experience that anything can happen and usually when you least expect it. Small situations escalate very quickly in such an unpredictable environment but knowing your team has that little bit more experience and training can only ever be a positive.”

BBC cameras are following their journey, including preparations and training as well as the race itself, with each team member raising money for a charity of their choice.

The club is still searching for sponsors for various items of clothing for the challenge. If you are able to help please email Rhwyfo Crannog Rowing on mispinc@hotmail.com or call 07415 351 431.

 

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