Tuesday 8th March is International Women's Day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. Seems like a good excuse to tell you a little more about me, Anna White, owner and founder of ScotlandShop and a few of the inspirational women I have met along the way.
Borders born and bred I have a huge love of this rural area of Scotland that provided the inspiration to start the business. With a degree in international marketing and French, and plenty of time spent working and studying overseas, the desire to see locally produced textiles reaching every corner of the world has driven the growth of the website.
When I started Uni we had only just begun using email, so it is hard to believe that now my entire business is based on the internet. As in most rural areas businesses are small and jobs in marketing are pretty limited, so I needed to create myself something interesting to do. I love fashion, colour and texture so tartan is a dream to work with.
ScotlandShop has grown with the internet and the changes in technology continually drive change which is what makes it so interesting. Fashion changes with the seasons, web design trends change, marketing has moved from advertising and PR to social media and blogging. Video and mobile is taking over the world. We are just continually trying to keep up! We are currently looking at our branding and the website is about to undergo a facelift so these are exciting times.
We are a relatively new business and there are many women we have on our radar who inspire us when life is tough and we aren't growing quite as quickly as we think we should be. There was recently a documentary on Karren Brady who made it in the man's world of football. It was good to see behind the tough exterior of The Apprentice aide and West Ham vice-chair, to understand the strength she draws from her faith, the support of a lovely husband and the challenges that have made her what she is. Personally I couldn't manage without the support of my lovely husband, not to mention his shift as house husband from October to January when our sales reach fever pitch! Karren talked about her grandmother always pushing her to the front of the queue and saying go on, you can do it, you show them. My parents never really said no to us, but if you wanted to do it you were expected to get on and make it happen yourself. This has really helped me to be to be self sufficient and confident in my own ability to make things happen and I hope to pass the same message on to my own children.
Rosie Eribe is a lady I have always admired. She runs ERIBE KNITWEAR, a local knitwear company who have always remained true to their core values, going eco long before it became trendy and always cutting edge with their innovation and design. As a result Rosie has built a strong brand and business, using the local skills of hundreds of hand-knitters to become one of the largest hand-knitting companies in the UK and Europe.
Slightly biased in that my son and I share a love of the bike recently I have been watching another local company starting to hit the headlines. Alex Feechan has created mountain bike clothing brand, Findra, which has gone from startup to award-winning business in just over a year. Spotting a gap in the fast-growing women's cycling market for technical clothing that is both functional and looks good Alex has designed a fabulous range of kit. My favourite quote "It felt like everything that was available suffered from the "shrink it and pink it" approach, which is basically taking a man's product, reducing it in size and adding a pink flower or go faster stripes to it, which felt condescending". I totally agree and now the range is stocked on top biking website Wiggle there is no excuse not to treat myself! With a similar obsession to ourselves for quality fabrics, Findra also use local manufacturers and their mantra is a good one for all women out there:
We are free, happy, strong, confident. We are women. Out there. Liberated from the humdrum. At least for a while! Together conquering the path, the road, the hill, the mountain. Always aiming a little higher. Fulfilled, accomplished, achieving.
Whether you are on a bike, building a business or just surviving the day today let's raise a glass to all the women in the world aiming a little higher.