North Wales gift company went from garage in parents' garden to selling 200,000 products online - North Wales Live

Summary

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A gift company set up in a garage in the back garden of the parents of one of the founders is now employing 14 workers and sells all over the world. Gafyn Owen and Sean Nelson set up MijMoj Design Limited in 2012. They initially worked out of workshops next to Gafyn’s parents’ Bed and Breakfast business in Llanfairfechan.

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A gift company set up in a garage in the back garden of the parents of one of the founders is now employing 14 workers and sells all over the world. Gafyn Owen and Sean Nelson set up MijMoj Design Limited in 2012. They initially worked out of workshops next to Gafyn’s parents’ Bed and Breakfast business in Llanfairfechan.

While they started out selling bespoke furniture at craft fairs they spotted a gap in the market for high-quality, personalised gifts, This has seen the company grow into a thriving gift business which has sold more than 200,000 products online. Its products are featured prominently on Notonthehighstreet.com and Etsy.com and one of its most popular items was showcased on ITV’s This Morning.

Ten years after forming, the company now employs 14 staff at a 4,000sqm unit at Flint business park, with the latest woodworking machinery. Gafyn, who went to Ysgol Tryfan in Bangor before studying Project Design at Loughborough University, said: “When I first started out, I was working alone and learning the ropes as I went along. But those first years really helped me to think about where I wanted to go and how I wanted to develop the business.

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“I met Sean, who is also from North Wales, at university 25 years ago and I knew that he and I had a shared passion for excellent design, so in 2012 we agreed to combine our design skills and established MijMoj Design Ltd. Since then, the company has gone from strength to strength and we’re proud to be celebrating 10 successful years in business.”

Sean said: “Gafyn and I felt that by working together we could create really innovative products without compromising on quality. So, after a lot of discussion I gave up my full-time job as a design manager to join him in establishing MijMoj Design Limited. We now offer a wide range of items including bookends, watch stands, whiskey tumblers and chopping boards, all made from solid hardwoods crafted in our dedicated Flint workshop. Everything can be personalised and delivered next day.”

The turning point for the firm came in 2013 when they started getting noticed online with retailer Notonthehighstreet.com Gafyn said: “We developed a strong working partnership with Notonthehighstreet which meant we were able to expand MijMoj and develop our product range. Having the backing of such a prominent retailer allowed us to create a range of personalised goods combining the beauty of real wood with the appetite for new technology, such as bespoke watch stands, tablets and phone holders.”

Having established the company in the UK gifting market, MijMoj has also expanded internationally, selling on overseas platforms. Nearly 10,000 positive online reviews from customers all over the world are a testament to the quality of the pieces produced. The company has also been nominated for several awards and won the Small Business award at the Daily Post Business Awards in 2017.

But, as with all companies, the last decade has also brought challenges as well as successes. Gafyn said: “We have had to navigate a lot of changes and unforeseen issues during our 10 years in business, which has caused its fair share of headaches. Moving premises, Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic and intellectual property infringement have all caused difficulties, but we have managed to ride the wave and come out stronger.

“We remained open throughout the pandemic with a team of skeleton staff and we even made protective face visors to donate to the NHS during the initial stages of the virus when PPE was scarce, using the machinery we had.”

Sean added: “Surprisingly, our sales increased during lockdown, as physical stores were forced to close and consumers turned to online platforms to buy their gifts to help stay connected with loved ones. The past few years have tested us, but our ability to bring products to market quickly and react to customer demands and shopping patterns is a big advantage.

“Being able to design new and innovative products which are made here in the UK is fundamental to us and to futureproofing the business, especially with the increased logistical problems other retailers are experiencing when importing goods from overseas.”

Gafyn added, “We’ve come such a long way in 10 years. I can’t wait to see what the next decade has to bring,”

North Wales gift company went from garage in parents' garden to selling 200,000 products online - North Wales Live
Photo Credit: North Wales Live

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