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There are some days in your working life that stick out. Last Friday was one of them. It was our Brand Labs 2021 shortlist interview day.

Shortlisting for Brand Labs is always solid. Every time we read an application we’re like, ‘yep! That’s it! That’s the one!’. But it is a competition, and they can’t all be ‘the one’ — so much like any other application process, we have the difficult task of choosing the three most promising, interesting, exciting, and deserving.

So what made last Friday so f’ing fantastic?

Although completely different, our shortlisted applicants had a few things in common. They were deeply passionate about their business; they had an inspiring vision; they had heartwarming and impressive stories to tell (personally and professionally); they give back to people and communities; and they are truly awesome people.

For the first year ever, we could see ourselves working with every one of them. Our values aligned, we believed in what they were doing, and we could tell that they believed in us too.

When the interviews were over, we felt like the lucky ones. Getting the chance to meet and listen to up-and-coming Welsh businesses of this calibre is beyond cool.

We’ll be revealing the winner on Thursday, but until then, here is the Brand Labs 2021 shortlist. Please check them out on social media.

Badass Mother Runners

Online sportswear brand and global community

Instagram: @badass_mother_runners_club
Twitter: @mother_runners

Badass Mother Runners (BAMR) is a sportswear brand targeted at mums who run. Originally founded as a ‘side-hustle’ by marketer and mum of two, Beverly, the brand now boasts an extensive award-winning product range. Over the last year, BAMR has seen exponential growth, has been shortlisted for and won numerous awards (honestly, loads) and has hit some serious milestones. It is now a global online community platform where women support women every day. With a commitment to quality clothing and a belief that we should stand together and inspire each other, BAMR is a real sign of empowerment, self-belief, and celebration. It’s a reminder that we are all badass and actually, are often doing a much better job than we think we are.

Discover Cymru

Travel, tourism and outdoor brand

Instagram: @discovercymru
Twitter: @DiscoverCymru

Discover Cymru is a platform dedicated to promoting Wales as the adventure, culture, and tourism capital of the UK. Growing up in Brecon, founder, Ed, was stunned by how little Wales was in the spotlight for its beautiful landscape, independent business scene, and adventure spots. So with a fiery passion for Wales and a smartphone, Discover Cymru was launched. What started as a Welsh landscape Instagram account has quickly grown into a giant online platform that not only promotes Welsh beauty and local business, but inspires travellers, tells stories, and raises money for numerous charities. With exciting plans on the horizon, this is just the beginning for Discover Cymru and a huge opportunity for Wales.

Nexus Education

Community enterprise in the education sector

Instagram: @nexus_education
Twitter: @NexusEdUK

Nexus Education is a community enterprise that presents schools with reliable solutions to problems they might be facing (e.g. digital learning, health and wellbeing and more). As governors in schools, Damien and Michael found that staff were spending too much time on mundane and time-consuming tasks instead of focusing on what they do best — giving children better futures. Nexus Education identifies common issues in schools and brings them together to attend a sort of, ‘speed dating’ event with providers that can help. It’s fun, it’s informative, and it’s no obligation. But it doesn’t end there — a percentage of the money they make from provider fees goes back into schools and so far, they have donated almost £100,000.

And there you go! Thank you to everyone who entered Brand Labs 2021. The winner will be revealed this Thursday 16 September. Stay tuned.

Meet Abbie Lawrence, founder of Consumer Insights Lab and winner of Brand Labs 2020