INTERVIEW WITH WBM 2019 AwardS winner
"Clydach’s journey began when I was 13, selling eggs to friends and family. I soon realized that if I was to hatch chicks instead I could sell both eggs and chicks at the local markets."
Your background and journey to this point?
Clydach’s journey began when I was 13, selling eggs to friends and family. I soon realized that if I was to hatch chicks instead I could sell both eggs and chicks at the local markets. Any spare time I had outside of school was spent preparing the chickens, and I saved up to buy an incubator. A £55 investment led to the hatch of hundreds of chickens and then Clydach Poultry was born. In 18 months, I was breeding over 3,000 chickens a year and converted one of the stables on our farm in Wales into what became a buzzing Chicken food and supplies shop.
In 2015 I wanted to take everything to the next level, so I studied livestock nutrition in depth for months to create my own recipe of chicken feed, and Clydach’s Natural Layers Pellets was born! The product was very popular and it became apparent that the nutritional aspect of the business was by far the most scaleable. I was in a great position to begin developing food for other animals and started with dogs. I had a network of free-range, Welsh and British farmers, which meant I could source high quality and fresh produce to make an exceptional range of foods.
Clydach is now thought to be the fastest growing brand of natural pet food in recent times!
"In 2015 I wanted to take everything to the next level, so I studied livestock nutrition in depth for months to create my own recipe of chicken feed, and Clydach’s Natural Layers Pellets was born! The product was very popular and it became apparent that the nutritional aspect of the business was by far the most scaleable."
How does it feel being a young entrepreneur?
I’m really happy to accomplish what we have here at Clydach Farm Food for Dogs. When I started this phase of the business five years ago, I was well aware that I was only 15 years old and it would be difficult to get potential customers to trust me and treat me as a serious and viable business person. But after a few years into my business journey the reception I receive is so different. I am treated as an equal. I think young entrepreneurs are far more accepted now than ever before. There’s nothing to stop someone starting their own business, and age should never be a barrier. Ultimately you get out what you put in, whether you’re a teenager or an established entrepreneur. It’s about the right attitude and hard work.
What have you discovered about yourself and what lessons have you learnt about leadership?
We're lucky to have an exceptional team at Clydach that have won many awards for customer service, I've learnt that you have to really involve them on the journey with you, develop and coach; and with a shared end goal, it can make your vision happen.
What is special about your products, why do your customers choose you?
Clydach Farm is a different kind of dog food brand. We create healthy, natural and grain free recipes in small batches packed up in recyclable bags. We use ethical, British producers to deliver free range and organic foods direct to your door or to be picked up from one of our lovely stockists.
We operate from several sites across South Wales (and elsewhere) with our head office in Mountain Ash. There is a big focus on biodiversity and nature conservation, representing the very best in earth-friendly manufacturing.
Some examples of challenges you faced starting out and how you overcame them.
Gaining trust at a young age. Having people take you seriously when you’re young in business is a challenge for many entrepreneurs and certainly held back lots of progression in my company. I built trust by knowing my facts, understanding my product and making sure I believed in what I was doing – with that, I was able to either convince, or if not, prove that young people are capable of developing exciting, innovate businesses.
Your recent award recognitions - how did it feel to win the Wales Startup Award?
It felt amazing to win the award. It’s a true sign of how far we’ve come and a great indicator of all the hard work that goes into the business. I feel very proud!
"I built trust by knowing my facts, understanding my product and making sure I believed in what I was doing – with that, I was able to either convince, or if not, prove that young people are capable of developing exciting, innovate businesses."
Why is Wales a great place for Startups?
Wales offers so much opportunity and support for startup companies. Now there are Wales Service which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. I received business mentoring by a Big Ideas Wales Role Model which led me to get involved too. It’s been amazing speaking with people in their final years of education who might be wondering what to do next. They receive guidance and advice to get businesses off the ground. I get to go out each month to schools, universities, seminars and workshops on behalf of the Welsh Government providing practical advice to people of all ages. For Clydach, we benefit by being in Wales as we can work with the very best ethical producers for our ingredients, such as Welsh Lamb of course!
How will Clydach continue to exceed expectations in the future?
Our aim is to always remain true to the fundamentals that were lay on day one, despite rapid growth Clydach maintains impeccable customer service, exceptional nutrition and high ethical standards.