Ffion Goes to the Extreme to Find Success in Fashion; BUSINESS PROFILE Snow Boarder Ffion Jones Tells David Jones Why Global Warming Steered Her toward a New Career in Sport Retail
Byline: David Jones
GLOBAL warming put the skids under one business run by an entrepreneur from North Wales but slipped in an idea for another.
Ffion Jones had worked as a ski guide and snow board tutor in the French Alps before setting up her own business shooting videos for professional snowboarders.
She had spent the winters working in the mountains and the summers travelling the world -Australia, Japan and other far flung places -surfing and indulging her passion for extreme sports.
But the gradual rise in temperatures due to global warming meant there was no escaping the fact that the skiing and snow boarding season was shortening year by year.
``When I did my first ski season 10 years ago we started in November and finished at the beginning of May,'' said Jones.
``Now it is more like January through to March. From a global environment point of view it is worrying -you can just see the glaciers melting away. So I had to think about something else I wanted to do.''
That something brought her back, after eight years working in France,to her roots in North Wales where she has been able to transmute that inclination towards extreme sports into a successful retail business. Her 7 twenty shop in Ruthin sells top branded equipment, accessories and clothing for snowboarders, skateboarders, long boarders and mountain bike and BMX enthusiasts. It also stocks a range of men's, ladies and children's clothes and shoes.
Jones dipped into her savings to help launch the business last year but was also helped by her parents -her father is a farmer and her mother runs a bed and breakfast -the bank,The Prince's Trust, Finance Wales and Denbighshire Enterprise Agency.
The Welsh Development Agency's Graduating to Enterprise programme, which helps aspiring entrepreneurs set up in business on leaving college or university,mapped out the support available to her. Jones knew what she wanted to do but a G2E business mentor helped her crystalise her ideas,enabling her to draw up a business plan,prepare cash flow forecasts and obtain marketing advice. Coleg Llysfasi provided a business course.
She now acts as a role model for young people, visiting high schools and colleges around North Wales through the WDA's Dynamo Project to tell young people about how she returned to the area to live and start a business. ``The idea is to get more young people to consider starting their own business and to realise that they do not have to move away, to London for example, to do that.''
Menter a Busnes, which promotes entrepreneurship among Welsh speakers,and the G2Eprogramme also call on her services as a role model for what can be achieved with a little bit of imagination and determination.
``I have always wanted to work for myself. When I came back to North Wales two years ago a did a lot of market research before launching the business,'' she says.
``I went around youth clubs and schools and asked them what they would like to see in the area. I saw there was a need for something for youngsters in Denbighshire interested in mountain and BMX biking and extreme sports.
``There was a gap in the market for this type of shop -there wasn't another extreme sports retailer within about a 30 miles radius of Ruthin.''
Ruthin as a base for the operation offered numerous obvious advantages. Jones observes: ``I am from the area and know it well. I also knew there was a lot of help I could call upon. It is good to have the support of your family. …