A beauty entrepreneur from North Wales starts not one, but two businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Introduction to business
A trained nail artist and beautician, Ffion Mai Jones from Tregarth, North Wales, decided to set up her own beauty salon, Ciwticwls, specialising in nail art, eyebrow and eye-lash procedures. With a lot of time on her hands due to Covid-19 restrictions, Ffion Mai started a second venture – Leibyls, providing a range of stickers and labels to businesses and individual clients.
Business Wales support
Business Wales’ start-up adviser Gwawr Cordiner provided a wealth of support to Ffion Mai through the medium of Welsh. Gwawr advised on a wide range of start-up aspects including market research, marketing, registering with HMRC, cash flow, pricing and payment processing, sourcing funding and planning permissions. As a result, Ffion Mai was able to launch Ciwticwls and Leibyls in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
We caught up with Ffion Mai to find out more about what made her start two businesses in lockdown:
Why did you decide to set up your own business?
I run my small business Ciwticwls from home. I'm also a primary school teacher and have been for over ten years. I am a very creative person and have been since I was young. So deciding to change my career was not a great shock to my family!
I’m very passionate about beauty and nails. I always wear colour on my nails and have done for many years. I love painting my nails, along with doing it for family and friends, so I decided to go for it and train to be able to do it for a living. I have never looked back. I attended night school over a 12-week period and I loved it!
That was over 7 years ago, and I have now re-trained in many areas within the beauty sector. However, I didn’t act on it straight away, just used it as a hobby, something that gave me great satisfaction. Five years ago, I had my son Gruff, so the dream hit the brakes once again. However, while I was on maternity leave, the fire came back, the aspiration to make a name for myself and to be able to offer a service, which would make people feel great, ‘like a million dollars’.
I started working mobile for a while to see if this was something that I could one day turn into a business. I knew that setting up a business for myself was the way forward, so I went on to convert a room in the house.
During the first lockdown, the seed of the idea came to my mind. Obviously, the virus had defeated us and changed our lives overnight, the pain of thinking where the money would come from was starting to emerge. I was also a little scared of thinking about offering a service, especially from my home. I was very fortunate to be able to plan and convert our garage into a fully functioning salon. Unfortunately, due to lockdown restrictions, I have been able to open Ciwticwls only for a few months so far.
What challenges did you face?
Covid-19 has affected the whole world and has undoubtedly presented challenges to businesses, too. However, I feel very fortunate to be able to run a business from home during these times.
In saying that, I do not claim for one minute that living through the Covid-19 lockdowns has been easy. I had to close Ciwticwls, there was no teaching work available (as I was working as a supply teacher). Then I had a new idea! In business, it is vital to be flexible and adaptable. I found myself in a situation where I wasn’t working at all, so I said to myself that I needed to diversify.
So, I gradually started building a new business called Leibyls, which provides all kinds of stickers and labels to small businesses. Leibyls is a very new initiative but had it not been for lockdown, the virus and spending time at home, it would not have been born.
Unfortunately, as a new business, I wasn’t eligible for any Government funding to help with the effects of the pandemic, which added extra stress and pressure on keeping the businesses afloat.
Covid-19 has been very challenging to say the least, but it has also allowed me to think of something new, which I hope to be able to move forward as a business that is here to stay.
How has your Business Wales adviser supported you on your journey?
I have worked very closely with Gwawr since starting my business journey. She has guided me into a world that was very unfamiliar to me. Gwawr has been there to offer support with leadership, ensuring that I always operate with professionalism and ensuring that there is room for me to develop my business and myself. I now feel that I have a friend in her, always willing to help. Having someone to share ideas with, who can help you realise them, is invaluable. I am still working with Gwawr virtually but I look forward to the time when we can catch up without a screen in front of us.
Future plans and ambitions
I would like to develop Ciwticwls further by becoming a trainer, so I can actively offer courses within the beauty sector. I want to convert the rest of the building into a classroom where I can meet students who want to thrive in the same field as me.
Whatever your business ideas or passions are, just go for it. Don't hesitate! I am very pleased that I picked up the phone and had the opportunity to work with Gwawr. Without this, I simply wouldn't have had the confidence or knowledge to go for it in the first place. If you have an idea that excites you, it is worth exploring!
If you want to read more success stories of how Business Wales has helped other people like you to start or grow their businesses, visit https://businesswales.gov.wales/case-studies or follow @_businesswales / @_busnescymru on Twitter.