Young entrepreneurs in Wales

This is a local Welsh newspaper article listing 35 entrepreneurs in Wales who are under 35 years of age. One of these entrepreneurs is only 18!!!!!



The pop-up crafts shop helping war-torn communities

A small shop selling work from Afghanistan and elsewhere is helping people from conflict zones make a living

From Kabul with love: Flore de Taise and Edmund le Brun at Ishkar on Baker Street in London.

From Kabul with love: Flore de Taise and Edmund le Brun at Ishkar on Baker Street in London. Photograph: Richard Saker for the Observer

From a small corner window display on London’s Baker Street, Edmund le Brun and Flore de Taisne are trying to help the victims of war. Their pop-up shop, Ishkar, which is also online, sells crafts from conflict zones. Among the items on display are gorgeous hand-blown glasses in green, lapis lazuli blue and turquoise, intricate kilim rugs, fine-woven camel hair shawls, earrings and necklaces and knives.

The husband-and-wife team, both 27, came up with the idea for the business in Kabul, where they were living when they met. Edmund was working for Turquoise Mountain Foundation, the NGO founded by Rory Stewart, now a Conservative MP, which aims to preserve and restore old buildings and businesses. Flore, who grew up in Paris, was working as a consultant for aid agencies.

“My job was to set up craft businesses and find ways to grow them, so I was working closely with local artisans,” says Edmund. “They’re highly skilled, energetic entrepreneurs, which is impressive in itself, given the circumstances. But they have very few ways of connecting to market. Ishkar is a direct response to that, connecting talented craftsmen with people who have the money to buy their products.”

‘There’s only one glass workshop left’: traditional Afghan glass.

There’s only one glass workshop left’: traditional Afghan glass. Photograph: Richard Saker

In late 2015, as a trial run, Edmund and Flore ordered a batch of cufflinks made by craftsmen in Kabul, to sell as Christmas presents. They quickly sold out, so they set about sourcing a wider range for the website and pop-up, which launched earlier this year. When we meet, they are waiting on a shipment of 4,000 more glasses, and crossing their fingers that not too many will have shattered on the arduous journey from Kabul. The glassware is emblematic of what they want to achieve with the brand.

“Glass has been made like this in Afghanistan for 2,000 years,” says Edmund. “But the country has been at war for the past 40 years, so there are zero tourists, and no local market because it has been swamped by cheap Chinese glass. There’s only one traditional glass workshop left, which is where all our products come from.” Part of the problem, he adds, is that for the local market, smooth, regular Chinese-made glass is more fashionable – and cheaper than the traditional styles. As well as supporting the craftsmen directly, a portion of proceeds from some of their lines goes to the Turquoise Mountain Foundation and other charities. They also partner with NGOs on the ground if appropriate.

“I know certain people might read about this kind of initiative and roll their eyes,” adds Edmund, “but Ishkar is the result of three years’ hard experience at the sharp end of development in Afghanistan.”

The next phase of the business will be to source products from other conflict zones. They already have a small number of items from Syria, but the civil war makes it tricky to know exactly where the money will end up. The current focus is on Mali, where traditional businesses have been hollowed out by the civil war since 2012.

“The situation there is worse than in Afghanistan,” says Flore. “Before the crisis, Timbuktu would receive 20-30,000 tourists a year. The craftsmen were relatively well paid, earning between €10-15,000 per year. But while they’re highly skilled they are not educated, so as soon as that business stopped they were left with nothing. To sustain their families, many turned to militant Islamist groups or smugglers.

‘The situation here is worse than Afghanistan’: cushions made from Malian textiles.

‘The situation here is worse than Afghanistan’: cushions made from Malian textiles. Photograph: Richard Saker for the Observer

“Another difficulty in Mali is that the supply connections are really poor, so it’s hard to get materials,” she adds. Textiles are the Malian speciality, but here, too, local demand has dropped off. “When we went to see them they were making name bracelets, which we had no interest in,” she says. “We had to ask them to show us the things they were making before: the high-quality embroidery, clothes and fabrics.”

“These places have incredible traditions of making,” says Edmund. “But their stories are not heard in the west, and people here have no access to them.” With Iskhar, he and Flore hope to help change that.


tips for Presentations

tips for oral presentations

We all know oral presentations are a big deal in year 12. Your mark makes up a significant proportion of your final study score in VCE English. Your Point of View speech is worth 40% of the grade awarded for Unit 4 alone.

Juliet Austin, lecturer at Deakin University’s Faculty of Arts and Education, and Jason Jewell, Year 12 English teacher at McKinnon Secondary College, share their top tips for nailing your oral presentation.

Research and plan

To set yourself up for success, start by conducting thorough research into what makes a great speech. This will help you ensure the script of your speech has plenty of interesting, powerful and persuasive language devices, Jewell says. ‘You should listen to speeches such as TED Talks and observe politicians in the media – all of which model effective verbal and non-verbal communication skills aimed at persuading a target audience.’

Austin suggests a great way to cut down on stress is to ensure you’re well prepared ahead of time and have a really clear understanding of the task.

‘You know your dates in advance, so check with your teacher and make sure that you’re really clear about what you have to do and what materials you can use,’ she advises.

When it comes to drafting your speech, it’s important to make sure your presentation has a structure, Austin says. ‘You really have to have your audience in the back of your mind. What’s interesting to them? What grabs their attention?’

Cue cards can be a great tool, but Austin says they can also be a major distraction. ‘Take some time to figure out if you really need every word written out or just dot points. You know how you work best,’ she says.

‘‘You really have to have your audience in the back of your mind. What’s interesting to them? What grabs their attention?’’Juliet Austin,
Deakin University

Practice makes perfect

Jewell suggests recording yourself delivering the full version of your presentation in order to identify any ways you could improve.

‘You need to practice your speech a great deal before the actual task in class, so that you do not rely on notes or cards too much and can speak directly to all members of the audience using your eyes, facial expressions and gestures, to show them how passionate you are about the contention you have chosen,’ he says.

Remember that it’s common to speed up when you’re nervous.

‘Ensure your stance is confident, including enough pauses between points, stressing words for effect, using visual materials and not speaking too quickly,’ he says.

Austin says you might also need to take into consideration the classroom you will be delivering your presentation in. ‘Have a think… do I need to project myself louder if I’m in a wider room?’

Back yourself up

We’ve all done it. The night before your presentation, you’ve dissected your work with your classmates, leaving you feeling insecure and unsure of your hard work.

‘Don’t stay up all night the night before. You need to be fresh. The worst thing you can do if you’re feeling anxious is stay up all night comparing presentations,’ Austin warns.

‘Try not to also hang around too much before your presentation with other nervous people. There’s no need. Afterwards, don’t feel like you have to engage in a deep post mortem discussion about how everyone went. Once it’s done, it’s done. No need to hash over it.’

And her number one tip? ‘Don’t forget to smile!’

Buried in schoolwork and want some inspiration for your future? Check out Deakin’s Explore tool to discover your options. 

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Juliet Austin
Juliet AustinLecturer, Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University

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