The family lockdown anti-boredom project that turned into a business opportunity

A young mum from Pwllheli has fulfilled her dream of launching her own business, thanks to grants, business advice and support, and lots of hard work.

Alaw Williams was a hairdresser before the pandemic struck. Unable to go to her normal place of work thanks to lockdown, she was at home with her partner and two small children and looking for ways to keep the children entertained.

“I'm very lucky that my parents have a farm,” says Alaw. “My mum had an old horsebox in the field and I thought 'right, we're going to do something out of this!' So, we got the kids, went to the fields, and that's where we started. We took everything out, demolished the whole thing, and started from there.”

The result of the family’s handiwork was Jinsan, a mobile gin bar selling craft gins and beers from around Wales at events and celebrations.

How did Jinsan evolve from a fun family project into a business?

“I decided not to go back to work as a hairdresser after the pandemic,” Alaw explains. “I wasn't sure what to do really, but I knew that I wanted to own my own business and I thought 'what do I like more than a gin?!' I thought there's nothing like this around, it's really different, so me and my partner thought we could open a bar, and to make it even more different let's just stock Welsh-made gin and try and sell it. We wanted to support local as well, so we wanted a chance to get people's gin out there so people can try different kinds of gins.”

The gin brands currently sold at Jinsan include Afallon, Aber Falls, and pHure LIQUORS from Conwy, which Alaw says is her favourite. “They're my main ones. And every time I go to an event I get different kinds of gins in, so it's always different. I get them from Gwin Llyn mostly, so they are going to be Welsh gins.”

With a great idea, a clear vision and the determination to make it all work, the next things Alaw needed were funding and some business advice.

“I was really lucky actually,” says Alaw. “I was really fortunate to be part of Llwyddo’n Lleol’s ten-week course where we'd meet every week and they'd give us £1,000 for that ten weeks towards our business.”

She continues: “There were some chances to win some money, so we'd do like a pitch perfect thing at the end where you pitched your business idea and the winner got £1,000. Unfortunately that wasn't me! Another really great business won that. But I did get an extra £200 for people voting for me on Facebook, I got second place on that, it was amazing. And then because I did this with Llwyddo'n Lleol it opened up so many doors.”

Alaw was delighted to learn that she could also benefit from the services of a business advisor for free. “That was brilliant. He helped me with setting up and getting the business plan sorted, written down on paper, and I also got a Barriers to Start Up grant of nearly £1,500 for doing that, and that was amazing – it was enough to finish the trailer. Without them I would never have been able to pay for it.”

Despite Jinsan’s newness, Alaw already has plans to expand. “When I started this, Llwyddo'n Lleol asked us to give an aim and what our targets were. At the time my little aim was just to open this trailer, but now I have this big dream that I would like a location where I could open a little gin bar on the premises, and maybe even have Jinsan still go out to weddings and functions and stuff like that. I'd like a permanent place that I could open all year - because I have to close in the winter with the trailer because it's too cold!”

To find out more or to book Jinsan for your event, visit the company’s  Instagram or Facebook profiles.