Spinning up a business success
A husband and wife team who use a bicycle pedal-powered loom to create a range of woollen products have taken on their first member of staff and hope to take on more in the next couple of years.
Roger and Andrea Holden set up Skye Weavers after moving to the island in 2012, and with support from Business Gateway Skye have steadily grown the business. They produce scarves, blankets, throws, wraps and more from their base in Glendale, which are then sold online and on site.
Recently, the business has started taking on special commissions for select retailers and are aiming to further establish themselves as a small and sustainable company within the network of artists and crafts people on Skye.
Andrea said: “I’m from Germany and while on a working holiday to Mull I met Roger and decided to move to Scotland.
“Roger had been working in agriculture all his life whilst I had a degree in cultural studies. On Mull, we lived next to a weaving mill and we were fascinated watching the craftsmanship of the weavers.
“Then we came across the bicycle pedal-powered loom that Harris Tweed weavers were using and we felt it was an ingenious idea to combine cycling and weaving.
“For both of us weaving was a new occupation and the learning curve was steep, but we were lucky enough in getting support and initial training from master weaver Bob Ryan. We then managed to buy a second-hand pedal loom and we moved to Skye where we set up the business.”
Over the past three years, Skye Weavers has grown and this summer Andrea and Roger were in a position to take on their first employee to help them cope with demand.
Andrea added: “We love working with wool and we hope we are making a difference in our visitors’ understanding and appreciation of small-scale textile production in Scotland.
“We’ve felt very welcome in Glendale and we’ve grown each year which
is fantastic. Now, we are passing on the skills we’ve learned to our first member
of staff. We would like to further grow
the business and provide all year round employment for two people as well
as increase our online trading to balance out the seasonal nature of business on Skye.
“When we first arrived here we took part in a series of Business Gateway workshops which helped us deal with all the initial challenges of finding the right structures, planning for the future and record keeping. More recently, we received help when it came to employing our first member of staff and the advice and support we received guided us through the various processes of becoming an employer.”
Alistair Danter, of Business Gateway Skye, said: “Skye Weavers is a perfect example of a business which has received support from us both at the start-up and growth stage.
“Initially, we helped Andrea and Roger through areas such as business planning, marketing and record keeping. But more recently, using our specialist Business Gateway advisers, we assisted with employment contracts and HR policy which enabled them to take on their first member of staff.”