A group of enterprising teens from Rhondda, who launched their own children’s publishing business last year, are set to unveil their second book following the continued success and growth of the start-up.
Katie Burgess, 16, Seren Collier, 16, Zoë Gable, 17, and Megan Thomas, 18, are the brains behind Lemonêd Publishing (Cyhoeddiadau Lemonêd) – an educational children’s book publisher which aims to encourage young people to open up and get talking about mental health and wellbeing.
The youngsters decided to set up the firm in 2019 after being inspired by their own experiences with mental health and bullying. The group wanted to raise awareness of these issues and educate children on the personal challenges they can face growing up.
The company focuses on creating accessible picture books for children featuring simple, yet impactful illustrated storylines exploring a range of personal wellbeing topics including bullying, confidence and self-care.
Initially starting out as a small project between the four learners, the idea quickly grew into an established publishing business with the help of the Ynysybwl Regeneration Partnership, a trust dedicated to supporting and developing regeneration projects in the local area. The trust assisted the team to source printers for their products, provided mentoring and helped create an ecommerce platform for Lemonêd to generate sales across the local community and further afield.
Lemonêd published its first bilingual book, ‘The Story of Lemmy the Lemon (Stori Lemmy Lemwn)’ last year. Designed, written, and published by the talented young team, the book tells the story of character Lemmy, who experiences difficulty making friends in school due to his ‘sour’ nature, exploring the topic of bullying and teaching the importance of kindness and acceptance.
Since its release, the book has been well received by the local community, being sold in a number of shops in the area including Siop Y Bwl in Pontypridd, ARTtic in Treforest, and Pontypridd Market. It is also available on online retailers including eSpace Wales, an online platform for local businesses and services.
Following the success of the first book, the young co-founders are now looking to grow the businesses further, enlisting the help of South Wales college, Coleg y Cymoedd, to achieve this. The company is receiving tailored guidance and support from the college’s Enterprise and Employability Hub.
As part of their support, Katie and her team are receiving one to one mentorship from Peter Wright – the Chair of entrepreneurship charity Tafflab – who has taken on the position of Entrepreneur in Residence at Coleg y Cymoedd to support new businesses with their development and growth.
One of Lemonêd Publishing’s founders and current Coleg y Cymoedd learner, Katie Burgess, from Pontypridd, said: “The team and I have our own experiences with bullying and mental health. Growing up, we felt that there should be more awareness of these issues, and that’s what led us to create Lemonêd Publishing.
“We want to create books aimed at young people that have simple but impactful storylines that can open up conversations about mental health and wellbeing.”
The company is currently working on its second book, Witch’s Socks, which explores the topic of self-confidence, and is receiving advice from Coleg y Cymoedd on how best to promote the book, maximise sales and craft a business plan to help support the company’s wider expansion plans.
Katie added: “The positive response from the local community has given us such a big confidence boost and we’re excited to bring more of our ideas to life. With the support and mentoring offered to us by Coleg y Cymoedd, especially the Enterprise and Employability Hub, we’re now on the path to developing our business model and growing Lemonêd Publishing even more.”
Coleg y Cymoedd’s Enterprise and Employability Hub was created in response to the pandemic as a ‘one stop shop’ for learners to access guidance, events, mentoring and training to help them develop professionally and kickstart their own businesses.
Lesley Cottrell, Enterprise, Skills and Employability Manager at Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “My role is to support learners to develop the personal skills and confidence they need for a successful future, both personally and professionally. I want to ensure that learners like Katie and the team behind Lemonêd Publishing have access to key resources that will enable them to succeed with their business ventures.
“It has been a pleasure working with Lemonêd so far and to witness the journey the company has been on. We’re so proud to see such amazing talent in the college and we’re excited to see Katie and the Lemonêd Publishing team continue to grow and thrive.”
Lemonêd Publishing is set to launch its new book exploring the topic of self-confidence ‘Witch’s Socks’ later this year.