Seeds of business sown at university

Launching his own coffee business may seem a world away from Music and Media Management, but James Rhys says the skills he learned at university have proved vital in his new venture.

James chose to study at the University of Gloucestershire in 2009, as he was far enough away to live independently, and close enough to friends and family in the valleys of South Wales. “I was also really impressed by The Park campus and Cheltenham,” he added.

James graduated in 2013, but says the bonds he developed while studying have continued to grow stronger over time.

“I have a great support network around me that I met while at university, who have been a massive help in navigating the world post-graduation,” he said. “This includes my former lecturers, such as Bob Gorznynski, who has been a continued source of friendship, support and advice, 10 years on from my first lectures.”

James has now established his own business, Farm Boy Brews, which he set up after moving to Scotland several years ago. His new coffee brand, launched in Dumfries and Galloway, combines his passion for good coffee and an aim to support mental health charity, Tiny Changes.

James went into farming after leaving university, but after a particularly challenging lambing season, decided that he needed a fresh start.

Although he still has a few sheep, he launched Farm Boy Brews on Mental Health Awareness Day in 2019, with a percentage of profits going to charity.

“The business management and marketing tools I learned on the course are coming in really handy now that I’m starting a new business!”

And James would also recommend throwing yourself into university life.

“Looking back on my time at university now makes me realise how much I did learn, the great memories and friendships I have come away with, and new skills I developed (like picking up a new sport in lacrosse).

“Also, I would say get out and get any and all practical experience that you can in your chosen field. Coming out with a good balance of a good degree and practical experience will stand you in good stead for the ‘real world.’”