A chat with Aaron

Etch & Pin

Hi Aaron, and thanks for sharing your experience with Covzero.org. Do you want to tell us a bit more about yourself?

Hello! I’m Aaron Ashmore, a local business owner who is Coventry born and bred! 

I live in Cheylesmore with my wife Sarah and two boys, Oscar and Caleb.

I’m passionate about the city and look to celebrate what is brilliant about Coventry through my businesses.

My working background is in marketing and communications having worked for the NHS for over 10 years before starting a new chapter in 2017 where I decided to leave the corporate world and set off on my own direction.

*Etch & Pin; a business that looks to celebrate the city of Coventry in the form of pin badges, card games, jigsaws and sticker albums, etchandpin.co.uk 

*Watches For Weddings; a wedding giftware business which provides grooms with pocket watches gifts to give to their best men and ushers, watchesforweddings.com 

*Zapped Marketing; a marketing business which provides marketing support to small and growing businesses in the city. zappedmarketing.co.uk 

Etch & Pin is perhaps what you are most known for. What is it about?

So, Etch & Pin is my Coventry giftware business which I started in 2018 with the release of a series of pin badges!

Recognising that Coventrains were now shouting they were from the city, rather than whispering it, I decided to release a series of monthly pin badges featuring the small things that make the city, our city. The badges include Lady Godiva, Three Spires and Coventry Cathedral and can be seen proudly displayed on many Coventry coats, bags and lanyards!

After releasing a full year of 12 pin badges, I decided to branch out to other products which look to promote pride in the city and I have since released The Coventry Sticker Album, a range of jigsaws, the CovTrumps playing card game and more recently two children’s books.

Wow that sounds great. Can you tell us a bit more about the book as they have been extremely popular!

So, early in lockdown, I challenged myself to start and complete a brand-new project as a way to manage the uncertainty of the current situation and released my first ever book ‘Lady Godiva’s Birthday Suit’ which re-tells the story of Lady Godiva’s brave ride through the city.

Lady Godiva is Coventry’s best-known icon and telling the story to a younger audience who may be aware of the statue, but not the story behind it, is vital to keep her legacy alive.

‘Lady Godiva’s Birthday Suit’ recounts the story of the Coventry icon’s famous ride through the city and “Coventry; The Phoenix City” recalls the Coventry Blitz and the destruction and rebuilding of Coventry and Coventry Cathedral!

We have been fortunate to be able to provide every primary school with free copies of the books to help keep Coventry on the curriculum and keep the history of the city alive.

Schools have praised the book for providing a gap in the school’s curriculum and has increased the children’s civic pride. I’ve been invited to host Zoom calls with the classes to live read the book and share my passion for the city. 

I feel it is important to support the community and I donate a portion of sales to local charities and community groups with over £5,000 donated to date. In 2019, I was awarded Role Model of the Year at the Midlands Business and Charity Awards for the work in promoting the city and supporting local charities.

How has COVID-19 impacted your business?

As we are primarily an online business (although you can find our products in other places across the city including Coventry Cathedral and Herbert Art Museum), we have seen an increase in sales as people have been turning online for gifts for loved ones with the shops being closed.

We found that our jigsaws and CovTrumps playing card game proved especially popular with people looking for things to do in the home to help pass the time or bring the family together.

Fortunately, we are a home-based family business, so we haven’t had premises or staff to consider during the past year. I have really felt for our local businesses who have been so heavily impacted by lockdown.

Another of my other businesses is pocket watch wedding gifts, so this has obviously been heavily impacted with no weddings taking place over the past 12 months.

This is the most typical interview question, where do you yourself in 5 years’ time?

I will hopefully continue to champion the city in various ways!

In the coming months, we will be launching our second set of Coventry pin badges. We already have the first six badges designed and made – we were initially hoping to launch them this time last year but decided to hold off launching whilst we were in lockdown and our city centre stockists were closed.

I will also be releasing further Coventry children’s books – I am currently working on the third book and will hopefully be releasing a full set of books telling the history of the city.

I always have ideas swirling around my head for future products but with the challenges of COVID such as juggling home-schooling and running our businesses, I have knowingly tried to hold off doing too much at once.

Hopefully when things return to ‘normal’, I will have the headspace to focus on new products! 

What do you think about the City of Culture 2021, are you excited about it?

Being City of Culture is a huge deal for the city, one which I hope will have long-term benefits for Coventry even when the curtains close on the amazing events and community schemes. 

I have always felt that Coventry has been portrayed as being in the shadow of neighbouring cities however the spotlight is certainly shining on the city now. 

I cannot begin to imagine how COVID has impacted the 2021 plans but with the programme of initial events being published this month, it has been heartening to see that there is still a wealth of activity being delivered by the City of Culture team.

After largely being stuck inside for a huge portion of the past 12 months, I am eager to attend as many events as I can possibly get to!

What is your message to the people of Coventry for this 2021? COVID has impacted every single person in the city in some way but there is light at the end of the tunnel. I hope to bump into many of you over the next 12 months at the various City of Culture events but in the meantime, we should keep looking out for and supporting each other as much as we can!

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