Pitch Up event
Women offer ‘tsunami of creativity’
Boost for start-ups
In the week when International Women’s Day was celebrated globally, an online business came calling in Edinburgh to attract small bespoke entrepreneurs and found that women are at the core of its success.
Self-employed Scottish ladies came out for a Pitch Up event organised by Notonthehighstreet.com brand which offers marketing and website wisdom to small businesses and sole traders.
Notonthehighstreet.com, now trading for ten years, is backed by venture capitalists Eight Roads Ventures, Index Ventures, Greylock Partners, Venrex Investment Management and Industry Ventures, to small businesses.
The brand arrived at the Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh for its first visit to the city and found that women juggling family commitments, aged parental responsibilities and balancing the weekly budget came out in force to make their pitch.
The trader supports more than 5,000 small businesses, with 20 of these turning over in excess of £1million in 2016.
Sally Bendelow, the creative product director, said: “It’s been amazing, absolutely fantastic and a wonderful chance to meet people and products face to face.
“We have witnessed a tsunami of creativity here. What is interesting is diversity. We have people coming straight out of college and we have second time around people going back to what they used to do.”
Successful candidates included Kim Cameron who runs Gin Bothy based in Lintrathen, Angus with a team of just three distilling a variety of bespoke award winning gin.
She said: “It’s a brilliant opportunity. My mantra is stay small but think big. We hand bottle and hand label our range of gin.”
In true kitchen sink style Kim oversaw a classic cottage industry, and was an award winning jam maker and then realised she could use the fruits of her labour to distill limited edition gins.
Her exclusive numbered bottles are thought to be game changers and she sticks true to her roots with an emphasis on fruits in season.
Gin Bothy was Scotland’s only triple award winning gin in 2016/2017 at the Taste Awards.
Another business chosen for the notonthehighstreet.com community was Lara Scobie, a ceramicist and sole creator and trader of 24 years experience who works from Edinburgh’s Adam Pottery, a hub for six artists in residence.
Trading under Lara Scobie Ceramics, she produces 30 to 70 handcrafted pieces each month.
The former design and ceramics lecturer at Dundee University kept her one woman business buoyant while passing on her knowledge and expertise to thousands of students over an 18 year academic career.
Ms Scobie, who earned a post-graduate degree in ceramics at Edinburgh College of Art, found the pitching process at the Dovecot to be a positive and encouraging experience.
“I’m part of a great community of makers and today’s success means that I have been accepted to sell on the website and I will have marketing support moving forward. It has been a great result.”
“I have regular clients who are particular about colour and particular about pattern. I take commissions and make a range of vases, jugs, mugs and bowls. My products are very practical. I also make bigger pieces for galleries.”
Lynn Mann successfully pitched for Supernature which manufactures cold-pressed rapeseed oil. She came into the business through her husband Chris, a tenant farmer at Farm Carrington eight miles south of Edinburgh.
Prior to meeting her husband-to-be two decades ago Ms Mann had a very varied career trajectory.
“I had 22 different jobs from bar work to selling water filters. I went into the television industry directing children’s programme FOT and NB, an early evening arts and currents affairs programme. Then I fell in love with my farmer Chris and decided to move in and stay on his farm.”
When her two children, now aged 19 and 7, were younger she also trained as a psychotherapist at Telford College and then Edinburgh University.
While on a child care career break in 2011 she realised that while her husband was growing barley, wheat and rapeseed he was looking for ways to diversify.
“I researched it for him. We now have black and white truffle oils in Harrods and we export to Dubai, Hong Kong, France, the Czech Republic and Borneo.”
The couple now have three full-time and two part time employees with annual output at 20,000 litres of product and a turnover of over £200,000.
She said: “Now that we have been approved by NotontheHigh.Street.com we will expand.”