Beinn Nibheis, the Gaelic version of Ben Nevis, was launched earlier this year by Eilidh Sykes, a keen hillwalker who says she spotted a gap in the outdoor clothing market for women, and wanted to tackle this by opening an online shop and bricks-and-mortar store in Fort William.
She approached Business Gateway, and consequently accessed its start-up services including one-to-one support from a dedicated business adviser, and advice on her business plan, marketing, and funding that helped her receive a start-up grant from Highland Council that helped towards the costs of opening the store, which is claimed to be the first of its kind in Scotland with an offering including female-owned brands.
Business Gateway also signposted Ms Sykes to the Highland Council Coastal Communities Digital Grant, which is only available in Lochaber, and enabled her to access a high-end software system crucial for integrating her website, which launched on October 25, with those of the other brands she sells.
Through Business Gateway, Ms Sykes also attended a webinar dedicated to running and starting a rural business. Strong social media content was identified as essential for launching, which the entrepreneur was also able to develop through a one-to-one surgery she attended via DigitalBoost, Scotland’s national digital upskilling programme, delivered by Business Gateway.
The Beinn Nibheis director now plans to manufacture her own outdoor clothing range for women, also stating: “The outdoor clothing market for women is lagging behind and, having been involved in the outdoor industry all my life, I really wanted to tackle this issue by opening my own shop.
“I felt supported throughout the whole process [by Business Gateway] and have really developed my business knowledge and confidence. The skills I have developed through webinars and surgeries gave me the skills required to consider a physical shop as well as an online presence.”
Emma Lawson, adviser at Business Gateway – which is delivered by Scottish local authorities – said: “Supporting female-owned businesses, especially in rural communities, is something that [we are] passionate about. We were able to support Eilidh through a range of our start-up services, so it’s great to see this support helped to successfully launch Scotland’s first female outdoor clothing shop.”