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.”
Ceredigion chosen as rehearsal county for the next census
CEREDIGION is one of four regions in England and Wales chosen by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to take part in the Census Rehearsal on Sunday, 13 October 2019.
For the first time ever, the 2021 Census is designed to be answered primarily online. Because of this, this year’s rehearsal is particularly important as it gives the ONS the chance to test out their brand new systems and processes to make sure that everything works as it should.
Later this year, everyone who lives in Ceredigion will be asked, by the ONS, to complete a questionnaire about the people in their household as on 13 October 2019. The rehearsal will be ‘digital first’, like the 2021 Census.
Help will be available for people who find completing the online form difficult, and paper forms will be supplied to those people who really need them.
Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn is the Leader of Ceredigion County Council. She said: “The information gathered during a census is very important to all of us because it helps us to understand our population and guides our planning for the whole range of public services, such as the number of school places needed and the provision of housing, hospital and GP services and social care in local areas. The information collected is the basis of the Council’s level of financial allocation for the next 10 years. It is therefore vital that we gather up-to-date information about our population.”
“A sample of primary schools across Ceredigion who have already been contacted by the ONS are being provided with educational resource packs to inform children about the Census Rehearsal. In 2021, secondary schools in Ceredigion will also be provided with information packs but they won’t be asked to take part in the rehearsal process this year.”
“The Census Rehearsal should not be mixed up with the annual Electoral Registration canvass which is currently being carried out by Ceredigion County Council. During the annual canvass, each household receives a Household Enquiry form which is used to check who is living at an address and confirms who is currently on the Electoral Register – You need to be on the electoral register to vote in elections and referendums.”
Ceredigion was chosen for the rehearsal because it has a high proportion of Welsh speakers and includes a large rural area with varying internet coverage. Tower Hamlets and Hackney in London and Carlisle in Cumbria will also be taking part.
Director of ONS Census Operations, Pete Benton, said: “As the Census only takes place every ten years, it is important we hold an operational rehearsal to ensure that all our processes run smoothly. The people who take part will all be helping to ensure the overall success of the 2021 Census.”
Llanbadarn Fawr – Sulien ward by-election results
MATTHEW WOOLFALL JONES won the majority of votes at the Llanbadarn Sulien by-election held on Thursday, 18 July 2019.
Matthew, from Plaid Cymru will now represent the ward as a County Councillor for Ceredigion County Council.
The position became vacant following the tragic death of the late Paul James in April 2019.
The turnout for the Election was 38.16% with 63% of the votes going to Matthew Woolfall Jones. He will begin his position in the coming days.
Brownies work together to increase their use of the Welsh language
CERED: MENTER IAITH CEREDIGION have been working closely with Penrhyncoch Brownies over the last year to increase their use of the Welsh language and to raise awareness of its importance.
The partnership has enabled Penrhyncoch Brownies to receive the Ceredigion Girlguiding Vice President award which represents their commitment and contribution to the Welsh language.
Cered has been working closely with Girlguiding Ceredigion by working with Girl Guides branches as well as the Brownies. Cered’s intention is to continue working closely with Brownies and Girl Guides in Ceredigion so that they are able to offer a wide variety of Welsh language activities.
A series of Welsh activities were organised for members including Welsh song composition sessions supported by Mari Mathias, a young singer from Ceredigion.
Rhodri Francis, Cered Development Officer said: “Cered has established a successful partnership with the Brownies in Penrhyncoch which has enabled them to increase their Welsh portfolio. The Welsh song which they composed is a testament to their success, their commitment and enthusiasm towards the Welsh language.”
Wendy Reynolds, Penrhyncoch Brownies Leader said: “It was a wonderful surprise to learn that we had won the Ceredigion Girlguiding Vice President award for our contribution to the Welsh language. We always encourage the girls to speak Welsh. The composition of a Welsh song with the help of Mari Mathias in particular, certainly raised the girls’ confidence and as a result they are using the Welsh language. I am very proud of them.”
Caroline Wilson, County Commissioner for Girlguiding Ceredigion said: “The Penrhyncoch Brownies really enjoyed working with Cered to produce the CD. This was a new experience for the girls which they really enjoyed. The Penrhyncoch Brownies were put forward for an award at the recent Inspire event at Broneirion home of Girlguiding Cymru. As county commissioner for Girl-guiding Ceredigion I was invited to the unit to present the awards to the girls – it was a great honour!
Girlguiding Ceredigion welcomes the opportunity to work more with Cered in the future. We are always looking for new leaders so that more girls can have opportunities of experiencing guiding.”
Cered’s main aim is to support, influence and develop the use of the Welsh language in Ceredigion through partnership and co-operation to establish the best possible foundation for the development of the language in the society and community.
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