A budding young entrepreneur studying in Cardiff has combined her love of the natural world and design to create her own luxury homeware brand.
Twenty-three-year-old Jenny Evans is eagerly anticipating completing her final year at Cardiff Metropolitan University, where she studies textiles, to focus on her business Jenny Kate, which designs everything from cushions to coffee tables, lighting, and wallpapers.
Jenny’s talent for art and design was recognised by chance when she took a one-off piece of her work to be framed at a gallery as a gift for her mum’s birthday. The gallery owner loved Jenny’s work and encouraged her to use her talent and pursue a career in design.
Jenny’s business quickly took off, and she was soon designing collections for the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, The British Dragonfly Society and the WWT London Wetlands Centre.
Throughout this time, Jenny was studying for her degree and being supported in her entrepreneurial endeavours by the Enterprise Champions at Cardiff Met including Steve Aicheler and Dewi Gray, who introduced her to Big Ideas Wales, the support service for young entrepreneurs aged 5 to 25.
Big Ideas Wales, which forms part of the Welsh Government’s Business Wales Service, and is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, provides business support and mentoring for young people to enable them to kick-start their business ideas.
She has also recently been accepted on Welsh Government’s Accelerated Growth Programme, part of Business Wales, which provides specialist tailored support for businesses with the ambition to significantly accelerate their growth and fulfill their high growth potential.
Jenny said: “The entrepreneurship team at Cardiff Met acted as a great sounding board as I developed my business, helping me to practice business pitches and offering advice on so many different aspects of setting up a business.”
As her business grew, Jenny made the decision to move away from textiles and art to focus on homeware design, a market she felt had much greater scalability as a business.
The change in direction paid off, as soon after Jenny won a national Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Award in the post-revenue category.
“It was a huge boost in confidence to win the award as a creative start-up, as I was up against tech companies and food producers who are often held in higher regard on a national stage,” Jenny said.
“It’s opened so many doors for me. For instance, the CEO of Santander purchased my portfolio of work and the CEO of clothing brand Seasalt contacted me.”
Currently balancing her studies while developing her brand, Jenny is in the process of creating her first full collection, ‘Binding Roots’, inspired by themes of British botanicals and wildlife, to be launched in March 2019.
The collection will include cushions, wallpapers, ceramics, coffee tables and one-off luxury items.
Jenny intends to maintain her company as an online retailer, manufactured using British suppliers, with her collections stocked by both national and international retailers.
What’s more, Jenny has plans to employ two members of staff by the summer who will help run the day-to-day marketing and sales side of Jenny Kate.
She said: “I feel confident that I have a strong brand to bring to market using luxury items such as silks, velvets and bronze to create eye-catching homeware items.
“I am a creative person, but I have a natural affinity for the business at the same time, and I’d encourage anyone with a business idea, or entrepreneurial aspiration, to pursue it.
“Entrepreneurship requires using plenty of initiative, and it’s certainly a lot of hard work, but the rewards are so great. I’m excited about the future.”
In April Jenny will move her business to be based at the Entrepreneurial Spark Hub in central Cardiff. And, ahead of the move, Jenny has already collaborated with one of the businesses based there, baby clothing brand BibaDo, designing prints for their bib range.
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