March 4, 2015 by THE WELSH HORIZON
Becca Hemmings, 29, started her company Hiraeth ar y we CYF in August 2012.
In her shops Hemmings designs and offers gifts related to Wales and literature with the aim of increasing the popularity of Welsh traditions and crafts.
Enthusiasm and optimism after risk of a lifetime
Hemmings shows enthusiasm and optimism for Hiraeth ar y we CYF. However, her story is also one of what it means to take a risk.
“I used to be a web designer and online gift shop manager; designing and running online shops for other online companies,” she said.
“Then, almost three years ago, my friend and I discussed what our dream job would be. I said running my own online shop, and he asked what was stopping me…I couldn’t think of a reason why not,” Hemmings said.
She needed an idea and looked for a niche she could feel passionate about. In the end her mother’s collection of Welsh crafts inspired her to go into the gift shop market specialising in Welsh merchandise.
“When I started the site my mother and my boyfriend helped me with the orders as I still had a full time job,” Hemmings says.
When her mother’s health deteriorated, Hemmings had to decide whether to focus on the gift shop or her full time job. In January 2014 she handed in her notice and went full time with her own business.
“It was scary and exciting,” Hemmings remembered.
Self-funding and a tight budget
“I didn’t have any financial support. I funded it myself and ran a very tight budget. This also meant I was more careful with what stock I bought and how much; I couldn’t afford to make a bad decision,” she says.
Hemmings is not at the financial stage, where she is able to hire more people. Friends and family remain the main source of her help.
Besides financial issues, her work-life-balance is another difficulty. “Wherever I go, my laptop and phone come with me, even on holiday,” she said.
“I try to keep set hours and have a lunch break, but during busy periods like Christmas this is impossible,” Hemmings said. Running the website alone means she is responsible for packaging and posting the orders as well as sourcing new gifts, marketing and customer service.
However, after only one year, Hemmings says the decision to run her own company paid off.
“I love running my own company; I can make the decisions of what to sell, how the website should look and don’t have to wait for anything to be signed off by a boss or panel. I can talk directly to my suppliers and customers, and I have made some friends.”
“I’m so glad I took the risk and quit my job,” Hemmings said. “It has been the best decision ever, and I was lucky to have my friends and family who encouraged me.”
At the moment Hemmings is considering expanding to a brick and mortar shop, perhaps in one of Cardiff arcades.
By Kevin Schubert