Wednesday 21. December 2022

Three UW students get funding for sheep skin business

When it was announced recently who would receive the annual grants from the Westfjord Development Fund, there were quite a few UW affiliated names on the list. It shows that our current and former students, as well as staff, are incredibly innovative and enthusiastic about contributing to the communities in the Westfjords, as a result of coming here to study and work at UW.

This year two ideas from students received funding, The Arctic Fish Midnight Special bike race received 700,000 ISK and Frá Landinu, an artisanal home accessories business received 600,000 ISK. Furthermore, two current staff members received funding for their projects, Catherine Chambers for her SeaGirls photo exhibition and Ingibjörg Rósa Björnsdóttir for Laupurinn, a raven themed visitors' centre.

Ainara Aguilar is the woman behind the grant for Frá Landinu – Artisanal home accessories but her business partners are Emily Péjic and Holly Solloway. They are both second year students at UW but Ainara has just finished her first semester. 

Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Ainara Aguilar, I'm a marine biologist from Spain but I was established in Chile before I arrived in the Westfjords last August. I'm currently doing a master's degree in Coastal Communities and Regional Development and I'm planning to take it easy and graduate in 2024

What is Frá Landinu and how did the idea come about?

The project consists of making Chilean-inspired slippers and rugs from discarded sheep skin from the farming industry. I had this idea in mind since last year when I saw the large sheep industry in Iceland, the limited offer of sheepskin products and the cultural aspect of walking shoeless inside the houses. Being new to the country, I didn't know where or how to start to make this idea possible. Living for more than a year in the Westfjords gave me the tools to find some opportunities like Uppbyggingarsjóður (Westfjord Development Fund). Although the idea was mine, we are actually three partners in this project: myself, Emily Péjic and Holly Solloway who, unlike me, are enrolled in the Coastal Marine Management master’s program. I am very grateful and happy that they share this enthusiasm for my crazy idea, have supported me from the beginning and that we are making this important project a reality. I also want to mention and thank all the help we have received from the community: Freymar and Freyja from Eysteinseyri farm in Tálknafjörður, Hjalti from Staður farm in Súgandafjörður, Grétar, Dani and everyone who has made everything easier and possible. There is a very beautiful community here in the Westfjords that we are very happy to be part of.

What does it mean for the project to receive this grant?

We had already started working on the project and were going to do it anyway. Receiving this grant makes a big difference to us and to the future of the company. It means that we will be able to develop a solid business plan because we will be able to hire an expert who will help us from the beginning to create a successful business.


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