All the world’s a stage for young Blackwood prop designer

A creative young Welsh entrepreneur has established her own business selling replica film props and cosplay items internationally, all of which she crafts by hand from a workshop in her garden in Blackwood.
Charlotte Williams, 21, a higher education student based at Coleg y Cymoedd and founder of Khepri Props, utilises her artistic flair to create replica props and costumes from iconic films, with her portfolio ranging from full suits of armour, Iron Man helmets, Batman gauntlets and even an 8ft pit wheel designed for a production at the Blackwood Little Theatre. She is a regular attendee at the Film & Comic Con events in Cardiff, often dressing in her creations to demonstrate to potential customers what she can make.
After a stint as a BBC Wales costume intern where she discovered her passion, Charlotte’s first creation was a pair of space boots, which she decided to put on online marketplace Etsy, not anticipating the level of interest she would receive. It was then that Charlotte decided to turn her hobby into a serious business venture, and over the past four years she’s seen orders for her bespoke items quadruple in size, with much of her business coming from the US.
Charlotte has received support in establishing her business from Big Ideas Wales, the service for young entrepreneurs aged 5 to 25, which forms part of the Welsh Government’s Business Wales Service, and is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. Charlotte was referred to the service by her tutor at Coleg y Cymoedd where she is studying a BA in TV & Film, and has since been receiving financial and mentoring support from the college’s Entrepreneurship Champion Lesley Cottrell.
Charlotte meets regularly with Lesley who, along with the rest of the Big Ideas Wales team, are able to offer her business advice to allow her to kick start and further develop her business.
Speaking about her work, Charlotte said: “I have always been a creative person and was accepted onto the HE course on the strength of my portfolio. Prop making is a real passion of mine and to have established a business while studying at college is something I am very proud of.
“Since discovering Big Ideas Wales, the support system they offer has encouraged me to pursue my creative ambition and supported me in establishing a business out of something I love.
“The entrepreneurship service at Coleg y Cymoedd gave me advice on how to apply for a small grant, which meant I could buy specialist tools and resulted in me winning a work contract with to make a large of gauntlets, so there really has been some incredible tangible benefits to discovering the service.”
Lesley Cottrell, Entrepreneurship Champion at Coleg y Cymoedd said: “Charlotte is a fantastic example of a student combining their own entrepreneurial thinking and studies to start their own business. Her dedication to her business is so impressive, and we’re all excited to see this business evolve and grow”.
As Charlotte enters the final term of her degree, balancing her business, studies, as well as working part time in a local shop, Charlotte has also made the decision to go onto study a PGCE in order to teach creative art skills to young people, while continuing to expand her business.
And Charlotte has big aspirations for Khepri Props, with plans to employ an extra member of staff in the near future, allowing her to take on more work and even more ambitious design projects.
Charlotte continued: “Since a young age I have always been encouraged by my parents to learn skills like cooking, woodwork or metal work, and I am reaping the benefits now that I have been able to turn those skills into a viable business venture.
“As well as progressing my own business, I would also love the opportunity to teach and encourage young people with a flair for the creative to follow their passion, while at the same time addressing the stigma around creative arts versus more academic careers.”
The Welsh Government Creative Industries Sector team also commented, saying: “We are committed to developing and promoting Wales’ creative talent, crew and services to international and national business. Big Ideas Wales has helped develop and promote Charlotte’s creative talent, and we look forward to supporting Charlotte with growing her business in Wales.”

Coleg y Cymoedd hosts Annual Learning Curve Celebrations

There was a buzz of excitement as over eighty learners from across Rhondda Cynon Taf gathered at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Nantgarw campus.

The learners and their friends and family members filled the Big Room to capacity to recognise the achievements of the learners; who attend courses at the Aberdare, Rhondda and Nantgarw campuses and Learning Curve Centres, throughout Rhondda Cynon Taf.

The Annual Presentations, to celebrate the achievements for the academic year 2016-17 included a range of part-time courses and units from the OCR Life and Living Skills qualification.

Compere for the event, Assistant Principal Jonathan Morgan, welcomed the learners and their guests and thanked the staff at the college and Nicola Richards, Day Service Manager, Learning Curve Services and her team for jointly organising the event.
Proud Course tutors introduced their learners and applauded their success, as they collected their certificates for achievement or 100% attendance.

Presenting the awards, Andy Johns, Assistant Principal at Coleg y Cymoedd congratulated the learners on their achievements and recognised the huge part played by their families and the staff. He remarked on the enthusiasm of those receiving certificates and wished them well for the future; whether it be further studies or work placements.
A special mention was given to the learners studying on the Creative Arts and Media Course Entry 3 along with fellow learners from the Diploma in Personal Progress Entry 1 course; who under the direction of Ange Martin performed a fantastic adaption of Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Nicola Richards, Day Service Manager, Learning Curve Services said “On behalf of Learning Curve Services I would like to thank tutors, support staff and Senior Managers for providing individuals with fantastic opportunities to engage independently in accredited courses via Coleg y Cymoedd. Provision across all campuses is superb with excellent facilities and resources which provide a wealth of experiences for all. We value the commitment and dedication by all Coleg y Cymoedd staff and receive excellent feedback from learners and parents/carers, which is evidenced in the Annual Awards Ceremony. We look forward to the next academic year, thank you”!

Angela Jones, who attends the Aberdare Campus added I like going to the new college, it’s a change to do something different. I like mixing with my friends and new people and learning lots”

Co-ordinator of the Learning Curve classes at Coleg y Cymoedd, Rachel Wallen, stated “It is lovely to see the culmination of the on-going team effort from the staff at the college, staff at the Learning Curve Centres and learners. The sheer delight of each learner receiving their certificates is clear to all attending the presentation event”.

Aberdare

Wellington Street
Aberdare
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF44 8EN

Nantgarw

Heol y Coleg
Parc Nantgarw
Cardiff
CF15 7QY

Rhondda

Llwynypia
Tonypandy
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF40 2TQ

Ystrad Mynach

Twyn Road
Ystrad Mynach
Hengoed
CF82 7XR

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