An independent outdoor lifestyle shop has opened in Abergavenny, thanks to funding from the British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme.
The Living Mountain stocks sustainable outdoor lifestyle products for a diverse range of pursuits from mountaineering, trail running and camping, to tree planting and gardening.
The shop’s founder, Jonah Silver, says the shop is an inclusive space intended to serve the community’s outdoor needs: “The idea of being in, and appreciating the outdoors, is the most important thing regardless of what activity you’re partaking in. It’s important to me that the shop helps show people that you don’t have to be into mountaineering or camping to enjoy the outdoors, it’s just about being outside.”
Jonah, 33, left his job in architecture in October 2022, after deciding that he wanted to pursue his passion for outdoor pursuits instead of working a nine-to-five office job.
With a small amount of savings, he applied for a £25,000 Start Up Loan, which enabled him to put a downpayment on the shop’s lease, complete the fit-out and purchase his initial stock, before opening The Living Mountain’s doors in May this year.
“It was really exciting to be able to bring this idea to life so quickly.
“To think that within just a few months I have gone from working a 9-5 job that wasn’t making me happy, to setting up a business that is now self-sustaining and will be paying my salary is remarkable and I couldn’t have done it without the Start Up Loan”, Jonah said.
The shop’s location in Abergavenny means it attracts an active community of outdoors enthusiasts who pass through the town as a gateway to the Brecon Beacons.
It is the only independent outdoor lifestyle shop in the town and stocks harder-to-find, high-quality brands such as Snow Peak, Topo Designs, Klättermusen, Gramicci and Epperson Mountaineering, that Jonah carefully curates through extensive research.
One of the brands it stocks is Dryad, an independent and sustainable women’s activewear company also based in Abergavenny, that has previously received a Start Up Loan from the British Business Bank.
The British Business Bank Start Up Loans programme provides government backed loans of up to £25,000 per individual, up to a maximum of £100,000 per business, facilitated through delivery partners in Wales like Business in Focus based in Bridgend. In addition to finance, successful applicants receive free mentoring, access to resources and advice.
As well as functioning as a shop, The Living Mountain hosts community events and roundtables, with a focus on appreciating and caring for the outdoors and the environment.
Upcoming events include a roundtable session with Roo Williams, founder of the product and service design lab, Feral, discussing community agriculture and permaculture, as well as a regular coffee brew bar with Abergavenny-based roastery, Rate Of Rise.
Jonah said: “Providing a physical touchpoint for what is a vibrant and lively outdoor community here in Abergavenny is what The Living Mountain is all about. There are so many brilliant ventures going on nearby, aimed at social and environmental good, and we want to bring people together to draw attention to them, allowing people to partake and share ideas.”
The Living Mountain has recently expanded its offering to include an online shop, which Jonah hopes to grow. Longer-term, his aim is to turn The Living Mountain into a brand in its own right, with the development of a capsule collection of outdoor lifestyle products, produced using local designers and fabricators.
Jessica Phillips-Harris, Senior Manager for Wales at the British Business Bank said: “The British Business Bank is passionate about helping entrepreneurs like Jonah, who are focused on sustainability and setting up a business in the area they live in.
“Empowering potential business owners to take the leap to start a business borne out of their passions, is the reason the Start Up Loans programme exists. It’s truly heartening to see The Living Mountain quickly develop in the way it has because of our finance and support.”