An elephant awareness and conservation art business starts trading in South Wales, with support from Business Wales.
Hayley C Lewis from the Vale of Glamorgan took the plunge and decided to turn her love of art and illustration as well as her passion for elephant preservation into a business. With start-up support from the Welsh Government’s Business Wales service, Hayley was able to secure funding and launch Elestration® in 2020.
- Started trading and created 1 job.
- Secured a £5,000 start-up loan.
- Signed up to the Business Wales Green Growth and Equality Pledges.
Introduction to business
Barry-based artist Hayley C Lewis decided to set up Elestration® to combine her background in art, ceramics and illustration with her passion for elephants and their conservation.
Elestration® aims to raise awareness of the future of elephants through unique, sustainable artwork, conveying the role and nature of elephants through the ages, using an illustrative method of blue and white painting.
Business Wales support
Hayley’s journey with Business Wales began at a start-up webinar where she met her business adviser Yusuf Behardien.
Yusuf helped Hayley turn an idea into a viable business proposition by providing advice on building a sustainable business revenue, pricing models, marketing strategy and IP.
As a result, Hayley was able to secure a £5,000 loan from the Start-up Loans Company and successfully launched the business in 2020.
Hayley has since signed up to the Business Wales Green Growth Pledge, promising to work with responsible suppliers, use resources efficiently, reduce her carbon footprint and waste, and look after the well-being of the local community. As part of her commitment to the Equality Pledge, she is also aiming to deliver an accessible service to her clients, respect the bilingual nature of Wales and use an ethical supply chain.
We caught up with Hayley to find out more about the unique idea behind her start-up:
Why did you decide to set up your own business?
I decided to start Elestration® as a way to show my artwork to a wider audience to enable me to raise awareness for elephant conservation and to enable more people to access my artwork, as prior to this I was working full time and doing commissions.
I started this journey in 2011 whilst studying Ceramics at Cardiff Metropolitan University. I developed a great passion for elephant conservation, combining ceramics and illustration, which has influenced my current art practice and brand. I developed a unique way of using illustration to bring these current concerns forward – urging the public to look at the issues facing their extinction and revealing truths that are crucial to the way in which we see the future of elephants and conservation.
I realised my love for elephants and illustration through many years of study and research, which is why I continue to illustrate elephants today as Elestration®. We are a proud supporting partner of HERD (Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation and Development) – South Africa’s first elephant orphanage. We donate a 10% share of Elestration® profits to their incredible mission, which is to care for and rehabilitate orphaned elephants, to give them a new family and a second chance of life with another herd.
What challenges have you faced?
I have faced many fun challenges along the way, which in all honesty have been a great learning curve! This includes lots of research into what would enable my business to grow, including finding the best eco-friendly suppliers to work with, accounting software, finding a trademark attorney and much more.
I wanted to design my own logo without any graphic design experience, and many YouTube videos later and many drawings of elephants, I am very proud that I was able to achieve exactly what I had envisioned. This has also enabled me to design more things myself, which I feel is so important for an artist, meaning that products are authentic and hand-designed, each detail carefully thought out. You face many things along the way that I feel are good confidence building experiences! You never know what you might discover.
Why are sustainability and inclusiveness important to you and Elestration®?
From the very start, I knew I wanted to be a sustainable and environmentally friendly business. This is an important value of Elestration® and I am very aware of my impact on the environment using predominantly paper based materials and products. This means that the materials my products and packaging are made from, wherever possible, are recyclable, biodegradable, compostable and plastic-free, so more people can help take care of the environment, too!
All products and packaging are produced in the UK using FSC® certified stock wherever possible (this guarantees that a product has been sourced in an environmentally, socially and economically responsible manner). The Giclée Prints are produced and printed locally in Wales. An eco-packaging alliance company that plants a tree for each order in an area that needs reforestation makes the illustrated tissue paper.
Equality is also important to Elestration®, as I strive to make sure that my products and services are accessible to everyone. I also review each supplier and their policies whenever I place an order to make sure this is in line with my own environmental policy and pledges regarding ethical employment and supply chains. I try my best to use only UK and local Welsh suppliers, and regularly monitor any international ones. I am taking steps to ensure I can use the Welsh language within my products: being a Welsh artist, I want to be able to promote the language in fun and educational ways.
How have you benefitted from your adviser?
Yusuf has been instrumental at pushing me to achieve my goals every step of the way. He offered some amazing advice that I would never have thought of, which I am grateful for. Sometimes you have an idea of the end goal, and you have half the picture of how you will get there. Yusuf was able to build on that picture to enable me to achieve Elestration®, from writing a business plan, offering business advice and helping me with my cash flow forecasts!
When I contacted Business Wales, I had no idea about the amount of support that was out there! I think one of the best things I can say to people that are thinking of setting up a business and are not sure how, just pick up the phone or email Business Wales!
Future plans and ambitions
Elestration® is the beginning of a much bigger plan! I want to be able to create and develop more elephant eco-friendly products along the way using my artwork. I endeavour to paint portraits of elephants that are supported by some amazing elephant charities and organisations; each elephant has the most wonderful personality.
My biggest goal is to be able to make a significant contribution to elephant conservation. To paint elephants is a dream come true, which is why I wanted to support HERD – the amazing Jabulani herd and their powerful stories are an inspiration to me.
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.