Most people who meet our Creative Director (Dale Evans) for the first time detect a slight accent. They are usually surprised when he tells them he’s from a small town in the heart of the Welsh Valleys. Wales itself obviously boasts some stunning scenery, friendly locals and a penchant for a welsh rarebit or two ;-) But are there any popular brands that can truly say they are Welsh? We must admit it was a tough one for us – but here’s our top 10 brands that we think are Welsh and proud...
HOWIES is a small ethical active clothing company based in West Wales. They make men’s and women’s clothing mainly for outdoor sports. Howies are known for their great quality – producing clothes made from organic cotton that last longer and are overall better for the environment. We love how they explore the world of sustainability such as taking 13 discarded wardrobes and giving them to artists to use as a blank canvas to illustrate an individual Howies’ philosophy. Also paper bags originally used for tulips were re-appropriated for t-shirt packaging.
PENDERYN WHISKY. From their own water supply from the Brecon Beacons to the barrels made of wood from sustainable American white oak forests, through to the bottling line at the distillery – Penderyn has an uncompromising commitment to quality. It is recognised worldwide as one of the finest malt whiskies. Distilling in Wales was a lost art, but in the late 1990s in a pub in a small post-industrial Welsh valley town, a group of friends drank and dreamt of creating a whisky as pure and precious as Welsh gold, represented today by Penderyn’s ‘gold seam’. Penderyn Whisky was launched on St David’s Day 2004 in the presence of HRH Prince Charles. We love the elegant and minimalist feel of the design, and the secondary packaging really heroes the golden liquid inside the bottle.
JOJO MAMAN BEBE. Despite it’s name JoJo Maman Bebe is Welsh company founded by Laura Tenison in Pontypool in 1993 and since grown to become the UK's largest independent mother and baby brand - employing over 700 people in the UK. They have 70 stores across the UK and Ireland, which is a great success story considering it all started in 1993 from a tiny shared office with the stock stored in a disused carpenter’s workshop at the Laura’s parents’ place in Pontypool, South Wales. She has never lost sight of putting people and the planet above profit and offering great service and we love the gorgeous designs and great quality of their clothing.
RACHEL’S is an organic dairy products company based in Aberystwyth, Wales. Founded by local farmers but now a subsidiary, it was the UK's first certified organic dairy. The company was born out of the need for farming diversification. When heavy snow hit Aberystwyth in 1982, preventing milk tankers from reaching the isolated farm, the Rowlands were forced to find other uses for their milk. Using an old butter churn, they made cream and butter by hand. After the snow cleared, the Rowlands discovered they had inadvertently created a market for their dairy goods and they were spurred on to extend their range of products.
HUIT DENIM. Cardigan is a small town of 4,000 people in West Wales. 400 of them used to make jeans. They made 35,000 pairs a week for three decades – that is until one day the factory closed. But all that skill and knowhow remained without any way of showing the world what they could do. That’s when David and Clare Hieatt decided to step in and create Huit Denim. The small but highly skilled workforce now makes high-end jeans, costing up to £230 for a pair of selvedge denim. Their customers include Arctic Monkeys, Jeremy Paxman, Ant and Dec, Fatboy Slim and the Manic Street Preachers. The couple explain “that’s why we have started The Hiut Denim Company. To bring manufacturing back home. To use all that skill on our doorstep. And to breathe new life into our town. So yes, our town is going to make jeans again.” What a great story!
SUB ZERO. Accoriding to Bluegg - the design agency that created the new branding, the Welsh ice cream maker needed to rebrand following a dispute over its trademark. It was decided that a whole new direction was needed, time had moved on, Mr Creemy hadn’t. They needed to attract a new, younger, more affluent audience, stand off the shelf amongst its competitors and assert itself as a major contender in the local ice cream isle. Now served in hundreds of outlets around South Wales and beyond, with its stylish black and white packaging and amazing range of flavours, the brand is almost as cool as the ice cream itself! Sub Zero can now be found in many major supermarkets.
TINY REBEL CO. These craft and home-brewed beers are making a splash in the beverage market. Started in a garage in 2008 by two lads in Newport, Tiny Rebel is the epitome of cool. They started off as a pair of self-confessed “beer geeks”, experimenting with hops and malt in a garage at the weekends. But since launching their micro-brewery, Bradley Cummings and Gareth Williams have been a Welsh business success story. For the branding the partners wanted Tiny Rebel to represent them and things that they were interested in growing up - Urban culture, 90's music, being a bit rebellious and not taking ourselves too seriously. So they created a ruffed up bear armed with a spray can who was ready to take on the world.
TY NANT. In the small hamlet of Bethania, West Wales on the edge of the Cambrian Mountains lies the celebrated spring of Tŷ Nant natural mineral water. Officially launched at London's Savoy hotel in 1989, Tŷ Nant natural mineral water took the bottled water market by storm. It has been named among the most stylish and desirable brands Wales has to offer, according to the Cool Brands annual consumer survey. While the main winners at the Cool Brands 2013 awards were taken up by huge international companies such as Apple and Rolex, it’s great to see that Ty Nant, based in Wales, was shortlisted in the drinks category. It’s distinctive blue bottles have become an object of desire in hotels and bars around the UK and beyond.
HALEN MON is a brand of salt and seasoning ranges from Anglesey. Founded by a couple who after graduating from Bangor University, had fallen in love with the island of Anglesey, and started looking for ways that would allow them to continue to live and work in that area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In 1997, the they left a saucepan of seawater to boil on the Aga in their family kitchen and as the salt crystals started to form - they knew they had struck culinary gold! The brand drums up pride of those from the area with scenic imagery on their website and headings such as ‘Taste the Landscape’. The navy & white logo is simple, and balances the traditional quality of the product with quirky illustrations and honest photography.
BRAINS – Probably the most popular Welsh brand amongst Welsh people ;-) The Brains story began on St Mary’s street in a small brewery in 1882. The Founders Samual Arthur Brain and his uncle Joseph Benjamin Brain, combined their brewing experience and financial resources to brew the first pint of Brains beer. Brains is now renowned right throughout Wales and beyond – becoming a flagship for it’s country. It has become as much of Welsh culture as the daffodil, sheep or Sir Tom Jones – even sponsoring Wales’ favourite Welsh rugby team. Simply put – it’s not Wales without Brains. We love the way the dragons' tail has been incorporated into the beer pumps, and the packaging looks simple and contemporary.