A WOMAN from Monmouth who was made redundant after a long period on furlough last year has explained how she has transformed her life thanks to a new business idea.

Abi Banks, aged 28, who started her own business Monmouth Houseplants back in May, says she felt she had nothing to lose after struggling with the pending likelihood of losing her job as a travel agent.

“I worked for a travel agent until April last year, when I got put on furlough,” she explained.

“As the year went on it became apparent it was not a good time to be working in the travel industry.”

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In May she decided to take a leap of faith and realise a passion that had been bubbling away for some time.

“I have a two-year-old daughter and no experience in horticulture – and I started the business from my conservatory at home, so it was certainly a risk, but I felt it all aligned really and it was the best time to take the risk,” she added.

Mrs Banks’ was made redundant from her role as a travel agent in October, but by then her house plants business was well off the ground.

In July she moved into her own unit, and there’s been no holding her back since. Despite more restrictions making starting a business particularly difficult, she’s been astonished at how the company has grown in such a short space of time.

She has just moved into another new unit which she’s been busy decorating at Wyastone Business Park, not far from Monmouth town centre, and has bought a delivery van to distribute plants across South Wales, Monmouthshire and Herefordshire.

“Since I can remember I’ve loved plants, and I realised when lockdown hit that people’s interest in house plants was going through the roof,” she explained.

“We’ve been blown away by how popular it’s been – especially with the amount of people interested in coming into our shop.

“That’s gone at the moment due to the restrictions, but we’re still busy with orders every day – and my daughter is out with me all the time.

“It’s not been easy with the restrictions meaning we’re always having to diversify, but I’m proud at what we’ve managed to achieve so far.

“The thing that has stood out to me is how people really believe these plants benefit their wellbeing.

“It’s probably more important now than ever for people to make their homes as nice as they can be for our own mental health – so it’s nice to think my business is making a genuine difference to people’s lives too.

“Last year was a really scary time because I loved my job in the travel industry, and it was very uncertain for a while. But I’m loving life now too, and I’m so happy I took the risk.”