Skills development and business start-up support helped a former dentist reinvent herself and launch a new enterprise as a jewellery maker. Now she’s aiming to secure support to train apprentices to follow in her footsteps.
High-flying dentist bites the bullet and launches new career.
After a long and high profile career as a senior manager in the dental service, Menna Lloyd arrived at the crossroads in 2011 and took a sharp turning towards a new way of life.
Having qualified as a dentist in the 1970's, she had risen to become clinical director of Community Dental Services at Cardiff Health Board, but she decided to accept a voluntary redundancy and embark on a whole new career.
She recalled: “I had a high profile job but was approaching retirement and felt I had reached a point when I wanted to do something else. I thought that if I don’t do it now I never will and started a new career.”
Two Welsh Government initiatives helped lay the foundation for a successful new business that now combines two of her passions in life – ancient history and creating jewellery.
Menna, who lives in Cardiff, entered a programme to re-skill and give her a chance to turn a lifetime hobby into a career and is now expanding her enterprise from a workshop and studio based at Llantrisant to an operation that takes her right across Wales. She is aiming to sell her products and deliver workshops across the country, using museums and other outlets as bases.
She qualified for a grant under the Welsh Government’s ReAct II initiative, designed to help people gain new skills following redundancy and used the available funding to gain a diploma from the London Jewellery School in Hatton Garden.
When it came to the practical side of forming a business she was not sure which direction to take and turned to the Welsh Government’s Business Start Up service for support.
She was put in touch with its contractor, Centre for Business, and started on a path that has so far led her, among other things, to collections in six galleries and a presence at the National Library for Wales in Aberystwyth.
I am now doing what I always wanted to do – living the dream
In preparation for her new business, Menna attended several workshops which helped her devise a business plan, receive financial planning advice and even get guidance on copyright issues she might face in her line of work.
“I wasn’t sure which direction to go but I got very good support, an excellent mentor and someone to bounce ideas off. You can have all the ideas in the world but you need help to make it all come together at the right time,” she explained.
At the age of 60, apart from continuing to build up the business, future plans include targeting museums across the UK, organising her own jewellery-making workshops and eventually taking on apprentices to provide work for others to carry on the tradition.
“I am now doing what I always wanted to do – living the dream,” she concluded.