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COVID-born business marks sales boom by opening first store at Y Shed

Meg Roberts

A SELF-MADE businesswoman who started a business during the COVID-19 pandemic has opened her first shop.

22-year-old Meg Roberts, a former student of Liverpool’s John Moores University, launched Grumble Studios a year ago at the height of the pandemic.

Meg began making tie-dye socks from her home in Rhyl under her Grumble Studios brand. As the cottage business grew, so did Meg’s ideas. Socks were joined by a range of tie-dye hoodies and t-shirts with jewellery and homeware next.

Fast forward 12 months and after testing her goods at artisan markets in North Wales and the North West and through online shop Etsy, Meg, who has a first in business and finance, has opened her first boutique at Y Shed in Meliden.

A converted railway goods building, Y Shed, the brainchild of charitable housing association Grwp Cynefin, and Meliden Resident’s Action Group, opened two years ago with a café, heritage exhibition, meeting room, space for artisans and units for start-up businesses.

Meg Roberts with some of her handmade wares

“Y Shed is the right next step to grow Grumble Studios,” said Meg.

“I wanted Grumble Studios to offer bright and bold products, and it has certainly lived up to that. In my first year, I’ve sold 3,000 items through Etsy alone. I’ve always been creative and had my first business at 14, selling jewellery online.

“Y Shed feels like a good place to start with a shop in a location as unique as my business. The last 12 months have been non-stop; I’ve now got a commanding online presence; one where leading fashion influencers want to be seen wearing my designs. Opening a shop is the icing on the cake.”

A grumble is the name of a collective group of pugs, and Meg’s three – Buddy, Bea, and Winnie – are usually alongside her when she’s tie-dying at home. Demand for Meg’s clothing is so great she’s installed a second-hand bath in the back garden of her parents’ house to help meet demand for the bright tie-dye clothes.

“My mum and dad have been very understanding,” added Meg. “My tie-dye takes up the whole house, and dad has been giving up his evenings weekends to make me a counter and displays for the shop as well as supporting me at weekend markets.

“Mum is my inspiration – she started her own nursery business at 23 so, as a family, we’ve a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Grumble really took off during lockdown with sales flying online. The shop feels like a natural next step for me and is targeted at people who like to shop in a physical store.”

Meg’s quirky clothing has already been picked up by leading Instagram fashion influencers boosting her online credentials. Major retailers, including website clothing and accessory giants ASOS are also stocking her garments. As a result, Meg’s tie-dye hoodies are in demand worldwide and have even been shipped out to South Korea. The opening of the Meliden studio will be followed by a two-week pop-up retail display in Liverpool ONE’s Japanese-style Kenji store.

It’s businesses like Grumble Studios, says Grwp Cynefin’s Head of Community Regeneration Mair Edwards, which are a perfect fit for Y Shed.

Mair said: “Y Shed and Grumble Studios are a great match. Both are bold and ambitious and making their mark in North Wales and beyond. Y Shed launched to help start-ups with a wraparound package of affordable space and in-house complimentary business and marketing support to help get them off the ground.

“The idea is to support businesses to grow and expand and make way for another start-up to begin their journey. Opening the shop is the next step for Grumble Studios, a very worthy addition to the team at Y Shed.”

Based on the upstairs mezzanine of Y Shed, Grumble Studios sells everything from clothes to jewellery, candles, wax melts, other unique homeware, and ranges of cards designed or made by Meg herself. Grumble Studios is open Tues-Sunday from 9.30am.