In 2019 20-year-old Abigail Chamberlain of Chepstow founded the Welsh Luxury Hamper Company Ltd. to showcase the quality products on offer in Wales. Because of her dyslexia, Abigail left university where she was studying music and enrolled on a different course at Coleg Gwent. Here she was introduced to Tafflab, which provides awards and support to help student entrepreneurs in South Wales. Abigail was selected to become a member of Tafflab’s 2018 cohort, and was allocated a mentor to help with the set-up of a business that has some of the following features:
- Is Sustainable
- Will create jobs
- Is spreadable
- Is in demand
From a very young age Abigail had wanted to run her own business, and in October 2019, with the aid of a Tafflab micro-grant, her hamper business now supports local, independent businesses from all over Wales. Shortly after its launch, the whole of the U.K. was plunged into a “lockdown” in response to the Covid 19 pandemic. As she had not been in business for a year, she was not entitled to any of the Government grants to SMEs and the self-employed. However, she applied for and received a relief grant from The Princes Trust. Founded in 1976 by HRH The Prince of Wales, the Trust offers vulnerable young people between the ages of 11 and 30 training and financial support in order to help build their confidence and motivation. So, with the grant and the support of Business Wales’ “Big Ideas Wales”, the business grew quite quickly during the lockdown. By 2020, Abigail had been nominated as a Finalist in Wales “Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award” and become a mentor with TAFFLAB. In March 2022, she pledged to donate 20% of the Company’s charity hamper to the Prince’s Trust. As she says, she “wants to use her story to encourage other young people to become entrepreneurs”, and particularly to address the gender imbalance.
Voted the best luxury hamper company in Wales in 2020 and 2021, its website boasts 29 hampers ranging in price from £23 to £450. These include such award-winning Welsh products as beer, biscuits, cheeses, chocolates, coffee, fruit cake (bara brith), gin, honey, jams and preserves, whisky and wines. Its £140 Mother’s Day Feast hamper, for example, supports 25 Welsh businesses. Abi intends to grow the business both by engaging with more suppliers and offering a wider range of products, as well as by offering luxury English, Irish and Scottish hampers too.
The Luxury Welsh Food Hamper Company is very much an embryonic Harmonious Enterprise. It is an economic start-up that addresses SDGs 8 (Decent Work and Economic Development), and 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), a social enterprise that embraces SDGs 5 (Gender Inequality), 10 (Reduced Inequalities), and 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), and an eco or environmental enterprise that is concerned with SDG 15 (Life on Land).
Luxury Welsh Food Hamper Company fits with the Welsh Government’s vision for a strong and vibrant food and drink sector that has a global reputation for excellence and for being one of the most environmentally and socially responsible supply chains in the world. It also fits with and complements other local initiatives such as the annual Food Festival held in Lampeter in mid-Wales since 1997. The Festival, which showcases the products of some 100 Welsh food and drinks suppliers, has been hosted since 2019 by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David on its 200-year-old Lampeter campus (Coleg Dewi Sant), the first university institution in Wales. Recently the University announced the launch of its Canolfan Tir Glas (Greenfield Centre) initiative. This is intended to help facilitate the economic, social, and welfare development of mid-Wales by creating and promoting Welsh food and drink businesses. To this end, the University has created an Academy for Welsh Contemporary Food, a hospitality and training centre, a Rural Enterprise Hub and a Centre for Resilience and Harmony. As the Provost of the Lampeter campus, Gwylim Dyfri Jones, says “These components will all be interconnected, providing a unique opportunity for the town and the University to work together strategically for the benefit and prosperity of the local economy for years to come”.
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