30 Jan

A 17-year-old after-school entrepreneur from Cardiff is to expand his stationary side hustle business, just months after he received a notable Welsh language award.

Currently a year 13 student at The Bishop of Llandaff CiW High School, Gwilym Morgan has been designing and selling bilingual travel-inspired notebooks and worry diaries on his Amazon sub-site, GM Notebooks, since 2021.

Gwilym, from the St Fagans area, had never dreamt of becoming a part-time entrepreneur at the age of 15, and it wasn't until his younger sister began struggling with anxiety that he ventured into creating his very first worry diary.

His bold business move comes just months after he earned Eisteddfod yr Urdd's Welsh Learner's Award, which is in recognition of his passion to learn Welsh as a second-language and his natural use of it from day-to-day.

Gwilym said:

"My mum had heard of the benefits of journaling online and was looking for one for my sister, but all the worry diaries she had spotted were really expensive, so I had a go myself. Using Canva, I designed the worry diary to my younger sister's taste and filled it with sections that were beneficial to her, including spaces to log her weekly worries, daily thoughts and long-term goals. The worry diary really helped my sister manage her anxiety which gave me the idea to start selling them on Amazon."

Gwilym is also soon set to publish a first-of-its-kind Welsh-language worry diary, which he hopes will make Welsh speakers feel supported in practising mental wellbeing and mindfulness in the language most comfortable to them.

Speaking about why it's important to add more Welsh to his business, Gwilym explained:

"I'm surprised that there aren't more Welsh worry diaries and stationery as a whole. I'm a huge advocate for supporting people who want to utilise or practise their Welsh in every aspect of their life."

Gwilym's business also aligns with the Welsh Government's Cymraeg 2050 strategy, which sets out a vision to see the number of people able to enjoy speaking and using Welsh reach a million by 2050.

The student's products have reached all across the world

Alongside worry diaries, the 17-year-old sells his own travel-inspired notebooks with photographs taken from his own travels, of which have captured the interest of buyers from as far as Italy and America.

A big part of GM Notebooks' launch was thanks to the support of Big Ideas Wales, a Welsh Government-funded service that aims to support anyone between the age of 5 and 25 to develop a business idea as part of its commitment to the Young Person's Guarantee.

Gwilym stumbled across the service in October 2022 when attending a career day hosted by his school. After approaching Big Ideas Wales' stand and mentioning his business, he was put into contact with Business Advisor, Jason McLoughlin, who has been on hand to support Gwilym with every step of his business journey so far.

Jason said:

"It's brilliant to see students like Gwilym building their own businesses, simply to benefit those around them. It can be stressful to run a business alongside completing your A-Levels, but that's why we're here. To support anyone, no matter their age or circumstances, to build a thriving business from their budding idea."

Alongside releasing more bilingual notebooks and worry diaries online, Gwilym is currently in discussion with independent shops across the Welsh capital to begin stocking the notebooks. 

On the success of his stationary business, Gwilym added:

"GM Notebooks started as a way of saving money and supporting my sister, and quickly became a fun after-school project that has the power of encouraging more Welsh-speakers to utilise their Welsh. Jason and Big Ideas Wales have been a great support system and are always there to help me develop my ideas. They've made managing school and running a business so much easier."

To get involved with Big Ideas Wales, visit its website HERE.

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