The one-woman catalyst for business creating a buzz in the Forest of Dean and beyond
Angharad Wrigley is a force of nature. If you can imagine all of the directions a business could take and the impact that could have – from disaster, closure, marriage break up, to growth, happiness and even wild success she has done most of those journeys.
She is currently the catalyst helping support, encourage and drive scores of other businesses in the Forest of Dean and beyond towards successthrough what most small business owners will acknowledge are far from easy times.
Her Facebook Group, Local Business Rocks, is a continual flow of inspiring, provocative, supportive, challenging, empowering posts from herself and others stimulating conversation, comment and energy. Its membership is eclectic and active and the businesses are independent.
Lauren Malone, a member of group who runs Lemon Tree Coaching and Development, said: "Angharad is selfless when it comes to her support of local businesses. She is passionate about, not just supporting the local economy and championing local talent and produce, but also the people behind these businesses.
"This isn’t just about a successful local business women supporting other businesses, this is about community. When Angharad gets her teeth stuck into something she is certainly a force to be reckoned with and you only need to speak to a few people whose lives and businesses have benefitted from her energy to see that."
Karina Methven, founder of Magic Bean Media and also a member of the Facebook group, said: "Angharad has a huge amount of passion for helping local small businesses.
"Local Business Rocks is so much more than just a business networking group, it is support, guidance, visibility, accountability, community, business education, ideas, collaborations, friendships, and has really helped me to keep myself and my business moving forward during this very trying year."Outside of the Facebook group she runs Hot Tubs Rock, a business which has seen astonishing growth this year as home-dwelling through lockdown saw people's minds turn to how they could enhance and enjoy their gardens even more.
And then there is The Hive, which she drops tantalising glimpses of onto social media from time to time – a space for business people to work, host meetings into, hire, base themselves, in Lydney.
“We have quadrupled turnover this year at Hot Tub Rocks,” she said, talking about the business she runs with her partner, electrician Joe Morgan, who also runs JM Electrical.
“It has been unprecedented (although I hate that word at the moment). It has taken the business to a whole new level.”
A new show room is currently being fitted out – and its growth is what is helping fund The Hive.
She is not showing off. It is statement of fact, as she freely adds that her other business – the one that was driving sales before the pandemic, Party Tents Rock – has suffered from the extreme social distancing measures as weddings, birthdays and other gathers vanished from the calendar.
It is the kind of experience which helps her understand the challenges many others in her community are facing currently.
She is alarmingly honest in a way perhaps our American cousins are more prone to when it comes to business - where ‘failures’ are viewed as ‘experience gained’ and career changes not indecision, but the innerentrepreneur trying to get out.
Her career path is as impossible to lay out here as she is impossible to define or pigeon hole.
No careers advisor would map the path she has taken, but she may argue herself she is exactly the sort of person who should stand before those concerned the path into work is narrow and options few.
What caught our eye here at The Raikes Journal was a post in which she talked about the shop she had owned in the Forest of Dean, a village shop she convinced the two retiring owners to sell to her and transformed into a success within a year.
Buoyed by that she invested in a former petrol station too with a view to replicating the feat – pregnant at the time as well, it all proved a step too far and she ended up walking away from both.
But not before she had convinced the community to take the village shop over and secure its future. She chose to share it to show others not just the emotion people invest in thier ventures, and the impact that has, but how when one door closes another open.
After leaving school at 15 and going straight into work, she began training as a secretary, but was poached to help look after the running of a food business near her native Abergavenny.
Married and a mother of two at 24 she had been working in Manchester - having moved there with her then husband -helping to manage teams of groundworkers, before deciding to move the Forest of Dean to be near family. Which is what bought her to her beloved village shop.
Post her excursion into retail, and in need of a new challenge, she took another left turn – talking her way onto a course that would lead her to become a qualified engineer.
She excelled, found herself signed to a major engineering firm which understood the value of an outstanding female student on its books.
And on top of that business, Mabey Bridge, paying her to study at college she also won other plaudits along the way before – on the verge of launching into an engineer career long term, deciding to take her twochildren out of school and travel abroad for a year before they reached secondary school.
While travelling she continued to help the hot tubs business she had started before leaving tick over, through social media and online.
And on her return she found herself staging a live show-case to promote the business talent in the Forest of Dean andher own party tent hire company. It proved a success, reminded her of her powers of persuasion, of the buzz she got from helping others,and helped lay the ground-work for what became Local Business Rocks.
Now she had her focus at last – her own fledgling business empire –agrasp of the many talented small businesses capable of even greater things here in the county, and a realisation of what can be achieved through supporting one another.
This year she celebrated 40 - with one of those low-key socially distanced parties imposed on everyone by the pandemic. After so much already achieved and lived there is still a sense that she is only just beginning.