On January 19th 2016 I quit my job. It wasn’t that job in particular that had made me impulsively and with no prospects lined up walk out of that office but rather being employed in general. I’ve never been good at working for other people. Between my inability to sit-still, my boredom and the fact I don’t much like being told what to do I always knew I’d end up working for myself, I just didn’t realise it would happen so abruptly. Cut to me that afternoon, racked with anxiety and dealing with a load of shit in my personal life I wasn’t addressing properly, sitting in my mother’s garden thinking ‘what the fuck do I do now?’
I’d known for a while I wanted to help Welsh companies succeed and figured with my evolving knowledge of social media that I could help them that way, however I’d never been paid to promote someone’s brand so I was a bit lost. Ok, I though, clients can wait. At that point I was too frazzled to think about pitching or marketing myself because my previous job had absolutely sucked all my confidence away. I’d been selling mugs and little trinkets for a while but I’d only ever made enough each month for a few treats and a new set of acrylics. How the hell was I gonna pay my rent selling a mug?
I wandered to a coffee shop, took a deep breath and started a new note on my phone called ‘The Master plan’. 2 decaf soy lattes later I’d come up with a plan to design a range of jumpers which I’d sell online and it was still cold so I figured people needed something cwtchy to wear. The brief I wrote myself had 3 words on it, bilingual, modern and looks like you could buy it on the high street. After deciding my colour schemes (I kept it the same as my website, black, grey and pink and red for wales) I started designing my first line.
When I started this line 3 years ago it was hard to find the kind of products I sold. Most Welsh merchandise had a dragon on it or a daffodil poking out of somewhere and it was especially hard to find clothing that women my age wanted to wear without them being cringe, ya know? I’ve always been inspired by pop culture and I knew I wanted that to trickle into the WGP range, so the first jumper I designed, The black Tywysoges with pink text was inspired by Beyoncé’s flawless album and the fact we have so many castles in Wales. I figured that made us all tywysogeses! Being from north Wales, I’ve always found south Walian vernacular funny and the way they speak their own kind of Welsh. So the Lush Mun jumper was created purely because I loved that people actually said it. I’d tweeted something about Rugby and Chill during the previous Autumns and it had a great reaction. I figured it was funny and unisex and I made it red so people could wear it on a Match day instead of a shirt. Just in time for the Six Nation’s, the Rugby and Chill jumper was born!
With my designs ready and a supplier lined up who would take my orders every week, print and post to my customers I was ready to go! My new shop would open Wednesday the 10th of Feb, just 3 weeks after I’d quit my job!
I was so nervous, I asked my mother ‘what if I don’t sell any?’ She said ‘what if you sell too many!’ That’s the moment a flip switched and my whole attitude changed. Fuck the anxiety, my mother always taught me change your language from negative to positive and see what happens!
I’d ordered 3 samples, one of each jumper which arrived just as I was leaving for a family weekend in Bluestone, I took my first photos in my cabin, added them to my site and waited.
Seconds later I had my first order (a woman called Amy, I’ll never forget her). And another, and another… I waited up all night just staring at my laptop screen and celebrated the next day with champagne in the hot tub!
3 years later and I’m back at my computer writing this.
To some it’s just a jumper, to me it was something born from a moment of complete anxiety and exhaustion which looked after me for 3 months, paid my salary until I was well enough to go back into the world. These jumpers were and are my armour. I feel safe in them, like I made them to protect myself, and I’ll always be grateful for that.
Last month I received an email from my supplier saying they were closing at the end of the month and last week I closed my shop. I had client deadlines, tonnes to do and paperwork to manage for my other business (god I wish I could go back in time to tell 2016 me what happens next) … so didn’t think too much about it.
Until today. When it kinda hit me. Something which has been the backbone of the WGP shop, a constant in my recent life and my cosy companion is gone.
Time to get back to that coffee shop, open up the Master plan and start again.
If there’s two thing I’ve learnt over these past years, it’s that everything works out in the end and that nothing is impossible when you’re wearing your favourite jumper.
I’m off to find a new printer.
Cariad mawr, and thanks as always for always supporting me.
The OG photoshoot at Bluestone!