Physio’s hand­i­work cre­ates busi­ness suc­cess

Argyllshire Advertiser - - BUSINESS -

A FOR­MER phys­io­ther­a­pist with a life­long love of sew­ing has set up her own busi­ness de­sign­ing and creat­ing an ex­clu­sive col­lec­tion of hand­made bags.

This­tle Fairy De­signs has grown steadily since Shona Jen­nings first be­gan sell­ing her prod­ucts three years ago and now ex­ports 50 per cent of its unique bags to Amer­ica.

Shona de­cided to fo­cus on the busi­ness full time in July last year af­ter she moved to Oban with her hus­band.

With sup­port from Busi­ness Gate­way Ar­gyll and Bute, Shona is now sell­ing on­line via her own web­site and Etsy, to cus­tomers across the UK and Europe.

Shona is work­ing with small, in­de­pen­dent weavers who spe­cialise in lim­ited edi­tion tweed to cre­ate one-off prod­ucts giv­ing her cus­tomers a rare and spe­cial ar­ti­cle.

She said: ‘This­tle Fairy De­signs be­gan as a hobby, ini­tially sell­ing to fam­ily and friends, but through word-of-mouth, fairs and Face­book, it started to snow­ball.

‘Some­how I man­aged to con­tinue with my phys­io­ther­apy job, but when my hus­band was of­fered a new job in Oban it was the right time to turn This­tle Fairy De­signs into a full-time busi­ness.

‘I knew I had to get re­ally se­ri­ous about run­ning the busi­ness, so in or­der to up the ante I went to Busi­ness Gate­way for sup­port.

‘I at­tended a num­ber of Dig­i­talBoost work­shops fo­cus­ing on dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing strat­egy and so­cial me­dia, as well as other sem­i­nars on sell­ing on­line and en­sur­ing my web­site was fit for pur­pose.

‘This al­lowed me to in­tro­duce an on­line shop which I felt was the nat­u­ral next stop for the busi­ness.’

This­tle Fairy De­signs cre­ate a range of hand­made bags mainly made from Har­ris Tweed or the en­vi­ron­men­tally and ve­gan friendly cork leather.

With stock­ists in Perthshire, Oban and Ap­pin, Shona is keen to tar­get more sales and at­tend big­ger trade shows.

She is also open­ing the doors to her stu­dio to al­low vis­i­tors to see how she works and touch and feel the fab­rics for them­selves.

Shona added: ‘By us­ing cork leather we’re pro­duc­ing en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly bags that are colour­ful yet al­low the nat­u­ral beauty of the Har­ris Tweed and leather to be the cen­tre of at­ten­tion.

‘I had no idea that my love for sew­ing would re­sult in peo­ple in Amer­ica buy­ing my prod­ucts but it’s won­der­ful as I love run­ning this busi­ness.’

An­gela Ver­nel of Busi­ness Gate­way said: ‘Shona has taken ad­van­tage of our fully funded work­shop cal­en­dar and Dig­i­talBoost pro­gramme to learn the skills needed to run a suc­cess­ful ven­ture.

‘As This­tle Fairy De­signs grew, Shona knew she had to look at im­prov­ing her dig­i­tal knowl­edge and en­sure her web­site was suit­able for on­line sell­ing.’

For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.thistle­fairy­de­signs.co.uk. To find out more about how Busi­ness Gate­way can help you set up and de­velop your own busi­ness call 01546 808363 or visit www. bgate­way.com/ar­gyl­land-bute.

Shona Jen­nings of This­tle Fairy De­signs.

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