Young Welsh entrepreneur to launch bilingual book subscription service
A young entrepreneur from North Wales has drawn from her own personal experience to develop a bilingual book business that offers mental wellbeing support for people across Wales.
Siwan Jones, originally from Bangor, is preparing to launch her bilingual book subscription service and monthly book club, Swyno, with the support of Welsh Government’s youth entrepreneurship service, Big Ideas Wales.
Launching this month, Swyno encourages young people to explore their mental health by immersing themselves in relatable, bilingual literature.
Each month Siwan carefully handpicks an English and Welsh read featuring key themes that she hopes people of all ages can relate to.
Swyno was developed in response to rising suicide rates, particularly amongst men, across Wales during the pandemic. During 2021 there were a reported 347 suicides in Wales alone.
Siwan was graduating from a counselling degree at Bangor university at the time, where she dedicated her alternative therapy module to bibliotherapy.
Siwan said: “I remember looking at my beautiful hometown and thinking if there’s ever a time when people need more support, it’s now. I truly believe everyone need new outlets to understand their mental wellbeing.
“Bibliotherapy allows us to bring difficult topics to the fore and break taboos without having to personalise our experiences. Also, it’s a dependable form of therapy that can fill the widening void of support caused by the current living crisis.”
Bibliotherapy is close to Siwan’s heart, having experienced its benefits as a form of therapy and solace when, at the beginning of 2022, she developed Hyperemesis Gravidarum – severe nausea and vomiting – while pregnant and suffered a miscarriage.
Over the last year, Siwan has been receiving support from Big Ideas Wales, part of Business Wales, and funded by Welsh Government.
Siwan has been making use of Bangor University’s M-Sparc workshop suites, where she’s been developing Swyno alongside Kath Lewis, Graduate Start-Up Coordinator and part of B-Enterprising, Bangor University’s service to support students and graduates to develop their own businesses or freelance careers.
Kath referred Siwan to Big Ideas Wales business advisor Niamh Ferron.
Siwan said: “I have had a whole army of support from the moment Swyno was a small spark of an idea. I can’t thank Kath enough for constantly pushing me to produce new ideas and think outside of the ‘Swyno’ box.
“I’m also so grateful to Niamh who was by my side to offer support and advice as I filled in complicated paperwork and applied for invaluable funding while going out of her way to introduce me to inspiring Big Ideas Wales Role Models and literary business owners who have been pivotal in helping me to grow my business.”
Niamh said: “It is inspiring businesses like Swyno, that set out to support local communities and make a difference in Wales that really make our job worthwhile. In order to build a business that can truly make a difference to other young people, Siwan has had to seek support herself.
“She has utilised all of Big Ideas Wales’ support, from applying for funding to meeting with Role Models. I believe I speak on behalf of both myself and Kath when I say it has been a pleasure to support Siwan in launching her business, and I can’t wait to see what the first Swyno box looks like.”
Starting from £29 a month (which includes free postage) and designed to help readers immerse themselves in the book, the Swyno Box features their chosen book alongside personalised items that relate to key topics and moments within the book itself.
Some of the first Swyno boxes will feature ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens and Tu Ol i’r Awyr by Megan Angharad Hunter for all Welsh-speaking subscribers.
Swyno’s launch will be celebrated during the very first digital Swyno book club meeting, a monthly event that she hopes will act as a hub for young book lovers across Wales.
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