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Graduate Grows Luxury Vegan Leather Handbag Business

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A Cardiff graduate start-up that makes luxury vegan leather handbags from pineapple leaves launches a new platform this month.

Former Cardiff Business School student Shivam Mishra (MSc, 2020) has established Ty Hedge – a website that allows buyers to create their own artisanal luxury handbags and choose handcrafted, personalised designs to adorn their purchase.

Shivam and Royal College of Art graduate Charlotte Desascoyne established Dozi Imp after Shivam completed a Master’s degree in Business Strategy and Entrepreneurship.

Set up with a £2,000 start-up grant from Business Wales, Dozi Imp uses Piñatex, a natural textile developed from waste pineapple leaves, made by UK manufacturer Ananas Anam.

Dozi Imp’s luxury bags feature unique designs by Indian craftsmen and women skilled in the art of Zardozi – a form of metal embroidery that originates in Lucknow – Shivam’s hometown.

Here, Shivam sets out his company’s journey as he launches the Ty Hedge platform following London Fashion Week.

Q: How did your experience at Cardiff University and with Student Enterprise help you to build your business?

A: “The idea to launch a start-up which is a sustainable luxury brand has its roots in Cardiff, whilst I was studying my MSc in Business Strategy and Entrepreneurship at Cardiff university.

“My thoughts were shaped by the late Professor Neil Wellard, an inspiration to many students, and Dr Anthony Samuel. They taught me about entrepreneurship and its value to society through personal stories and real-life examples. Their initial teaching helped me develop confidence in myself.

“Support from the Cardiff University Enterprise team, especially from Claire Parry-Witchell, shaped the idea into a reality. The Enterprise team guided me to develop a comprehensive business plan and market research strategy, which is not only the founding block of the company, but also a firm foundation for future entrepreneurial ventures.

“Guidance and motivation is most important for any student who wants to set up a start-up, and the university enterprise team has provided that guidance and equipped me with skills through workshops, which play a massive role in the development process of an entrepreneurial student in terms of taking decisions based on knowledge and evidence.”

Q: What were the biggest obstacles you've had to overcome in setting up the enterprise?

A: “Experience through failure is the biggest lesson one can learn. I started this venture, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic when global economic activity was at halt. There were no suppliers of raw material, and no local workshops or factories would agree to prepare a sample collection of handbags for my start-up.

“But continued efforts to find a way out helped us to get the collection done in Delhi, where local artisans were working from their homes.

“Originating in Lucknow, Zardozi is a traditional skill that uses gold and silver metallic threads woven on fabric. It was used on palace furnishings in India during the 18th and 19th centuries and is a unique heritage artform that makes our product completely different.

“One of the major challenges throughout this journey has been to maintain sustainability. Maintaining supply chain and the actual place of production of bags had been a real challenge: to overcome this, I have launched Ty Hedge, a personalized appointment-based site allowing customers and clients to create their own bespoke Luxury handbags.

“Our new launch will focus on local production in the UK to achieve overall sustainability, reflecting our values and commitments towards nature by moving towards a circular economy. It allows customers and clients to create their own unique piece of luxury vegan leather embroidered handbags, or to order a simple vegan leather handbag without artwork on it, creating income for handbag makers, artisans and accessories suppliers.”

Q: Finally, what advice and tips would you give to young students and recent graduates thinking of setting up their own business?

A: “Resilience, motivation, and flexibility with the idea are paramount, but perhaps the most important skill is networking

“My advice to recent graduates who want to set up a business is to have determination and faith in your ideas, as this will bring motivation and resilience.

“Failures are a lesson to develop further, and flexibility is very important for any graduate who wants to undertake a new venture. Do not marry an idea, but remain flexible to change or adapt new ideas as per the given situation.

“Above all, networking creates entrepreneurs and turns ideas into reality. Recent graduates should take up all possible networking opportunities. Thankfully, Cardiff Enterprise provides some fantastic and valuable resources for networking of graduates.”

For more information about Dozi Imp products and options, customers can visit: Ty Hedge | Bespoke Vegan leather handbags (ty-hedge.com)