Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your brand?
I was brought up in a wonderful valley deep in rural Wales. My father was the village headmaster and he was a passionate naturalist. He passed that passion for the natural world on to all the children who attended his school and a few years ago one of his ex-pupils described it as a ‘school without walls’.
My interest in developing an organic product grew from my understanding of how lightly we all need to tread on the earth, and Abaca fully reflects those values.
What gave you the courage to start up your own business and what advice would you give to anyone thinking about doing the same?
Starting a business is relatively easy, it’s keeping them going that’s the problem! To get through the hard times you need commitment, a willingness to sacrifice time that you previously spent elsewhere, and most of all you need to be fiercely passionate about your product and your brand.
There is nothing as satisfying as seeing a business you’ve created grow and flourish, but very few businesses grow in a neat curve, so you have to be prepared to fight for work when there are downturns.
What process do you go through when creating new pieces?
We have a very creative team at the Abaca workshop, and any new ideas get shared and discussed and prototypes commissioned. Some of these make it on to our web site, others don’t because they are not commercially viable. Before any new mattress is launched one of the team gets to try it for a couple of months just to make sure that it’s as comfortable as we hope.
We only work with certified organic materials so are somewhat limited by that but given the high quality of these materials, it’s no wonder that our team brings new ideas to the table on a regular basis.
Where do you look for inspiration?
Our Abaca customers are inspirational. Working in the organic sector means that the people who contact us often have health issues of one sort or another, and it’s a huge pleasure being able to supply a customer with a product that isn’t going to add anything unpleasant to their home environment.
On a personal level, I draw comfort and inspiration from the world around me. I’m lucky to live in a beautiful part of Wales and have easy access to both the mountains and the sea. I want every product we make to embody a sense of purity and access to the natural world.
Human beings, by default, had slept on natural organic materials for all of our existence until 80 or so years ago, now very few people know what they’re sleeping on or what effect the fire retardants and adhesives that are commonly used may be having on their health.
What are your future plans for developing your business?
Businesses have to adapt to survive, and the pandemic has highlighted that in no uncertain terms. We have had several different business models over the last 18 years, but currently, only sell directly to the customer. We are now cautiously seeking partners who embody our ethos and whom we are confident will sell our product in a constructive and knowledgeable way.
A little story or an anecdote you would like to share?
I have worked in this industry for over thirty years, and not long after I started I was invited to a rather grand party. I got dressed up and spent a very pleasant evening chatting with people I hadn’t met before. There was one gentleman who caught my eye and who eventually worked his way over to me.
After some general chit chat, he asked me what I did, and I replied, ‘I make beds’. With a glint in his eye he leaned over and smiled and said ‘Ahh … a chamber maid’, needless to say, I went home alone!
Your favourite quote?
There is a Canadian writer called Louise Penny whose books I very much enjoy. Her main character is a Chief Inspector and he strives to teach his workforce that humility is an important asset for any human being. Being able to say the four things that he believes to be most crucial isn’t easy, but we become far more considerate and confident characters if we’re able to do so.
“The four sayings that lead to wisdom:
I was wrong
I don't know
I need help”
Based In: Tycroes, Ammanford, Wales
Product Range: Luxury organic mattresses, bed frames, bedding.
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"HANDCRAFTED ORGANIC PIECES CONTRIBUTING TO THE WELLBEING OF YOUR HOME AND THE WORLD"