A FORMER award-winning journalist has turned her journalistic tenacity to the world of business with a little help from some farmyard friends.

Mari Jones, who worked for over 20 years as a reporter in Conwy was let go from her newspaper job in the middle of the pandemic.

But Mari, who was the 2018 Wales print journalist of the year, did not allow this to be a setback and instead set up her own business turning the iconic goats of Llandudno into a brand for the town.

The Colwyn Bay mother-of-two started to create gifts based on the well known goats who became a global internet sensation during the first lockdown.

A familiar sight to visitors to the Great Orme in the town, the goats made the deserted streets of the town centre their own as people stayed at home during lockdown.

Footage of the goats walking the streets spread like wildfire across the internet and were even featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Taking inspiration from this, Mari created a line of merchandise including, mugs, tea towels and tote bags featuring caricatures of the animals.

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Mari said: “Lots of news stories attracted negative comments but I noticed whenever I wrote a story about the goats in Llandudno the story would fly and lots of the comments would be positive.

“And people really love those goats. During lockdown they really became superstars and went viral. You had Ellen DeGeneres speaking about them on her show.

“They cheered people up when they needed cheering up, whenever I go somewhere I like to buy something that reminded me of that trip and I just thought – there’s an opportunity. Because no one was really doing it at the time, creating nice quality gifts to take home. And I just thought the goats would be a good idea so I try and keep it as local as possible.”

It was pride in her home county that drove Mari as a journalist covering her home patch, and pride in what Wales has to offer visitors has been an important part of her success as she tries to source locally.

The National Wales: Mari pictured above Llandudno Mari pictured above Llandudno

She said: “I try and keep the price as low as possible but I do try and support businesses like Peris and Corr who hand screenprint all of my tea towels and tote bags.

“I use organic cotton, the person who illustrates for me is a school friend from Colwyn Bay so I try and keep it as Welsh as possible and it’s slowly growing. I’ve now got it in lots of shops in Conwy and online as well. I send the products all over the world.”

And for Mari, one thing that the goats of Llandudno have achieved themselves is to bring a smile to people’s faces during difficult times.

“The reaction has all been really positive, people smile when they see them. I do the Colwyn Bay artisanal market and you hear people going ‘Look at the goats’ and it just makes people smile which is really nice.

“It’s a good export for Wales, Llandudno has always been known as the Queen of Welsh resorts but now it should be known for the goats, we should make the most out of them really and get people in,” she said.

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