AN entrepreneur from the Island of Lewis received a prestigious business award in Edinburgh last night.
Natalie Crayton, founder of Hebridean Sea Salt received the ‘Most Visionary Business’ award at the BT Scotland Young E-ntrepreneur Awards.
The annual business awards, organised by The Prince’s Trust Youth Business Scotland, recognise visionary young entrepreneurs who have benefitted from BT Scotland funding and have gone on to grow their businesses with the help of e-commerce.
The former marine resource management graduate moved from the Island of Tiree to Lewis in 2011 with her partner, a fisherman, with ambitions of starting her own gourmet sea salt business. In between juggling the demands of two toddlers and a five year-old, Natalie spent every spare hour researching how to harvest sea salt, and in 2011 she received support from the BT Scotland Young E-ntrepreneurs fund to start up her business.
Natalie employs two part-time staff on the island and hopes to increase this to seven by the end of this year. Explaining the process, Natalie said: “We remove the water by evaporating it slowly in shallow salt pans. This produces nice big salt crystals, which we then harvest by hand and gently heat in ovens to complete the drying process.”
She added: “Nothing is added or taken away and the end result is completely natural, crunchy sea salt flakes.”
The gourmet Hebridean Sea Salt is now sold in hundreds of independent retailers throughout the UK and Natalie estimates 60 per cent of her stockists came from trade links on their website.
Winner of the ‘Most Environmental Business’ award is 22 year-old Amy Dolan, founder of Ziggy Sawdust in Edinburgh. Amy recycles retro and vintage furniture adding contemporary appeal with a design twist. She established her business in April last year with a loan from the BT Scotland Young E-ntrpreneurs fund, and during the last ten months her business has grown significantly.
According to Amy, ten million items of furniture are thrown away in the UK every year. Three million of these items could easily be re-used and more could be repaired.
Said Amy: “The whole idea behind Ziggy Sawdust is to help stop beautifully crafted, solid wood furniture from being thrown away in favour of generic flat-packed furniture, simply because it is a little scratched, has a wobbly leg or is looking a bit out-dated.”
As well as commissions from private clients who enlist Amy’s help to source specific items of vintage furniture, Amy also customizes individual pieces for customers and her collections are also available to buy from selected retailers in Edinburgh. Ziggy Sawdust designs are also featured on www.moobi.com along with an international showcase of sustainable designs that are gaining increased recognition. The young designer is also exploring opportunities in the commercial market for a vintage and retro interiors design service. Long term she hopes to expand her design collection and open retail premises.
Three other BT-backed young entrepreneurs received awards in recognition of their e-commerce success. Fashion designer Rebecca Torres from Glasgow won the Best E-Commerce Business. She launched her own label with support from BT Scotland Young E-ntrepreneurs fund two years ago. That same year, Rebecca, 27, was one of 10 designers selected from the UK to design their interpretation of the ‘Evening Black Dress’. Her design became BrandAlley.com’s best-seller in 2011. After a further sell-out collection on ASOS.com of 2000 dresses, the Rebecca Torres label is selling well through her website www.rebeccatorres.co.uk, alongside other stockists. Last year, she was a Nominee at The Scottish Fashion Awards 2012 ‘Young Designer of the Year’. This year her designs are being showcased at the ‘Dressed to Kilt’, event in New York as part of Tartan Week in April.
Another business start-up from Glasgow was named winner of the Best Website – First Class Physiotherapy, founded by Rachel Catherwood, 24, and Jennifer Semple, 31. Both therapists have experience working in sports rehabilitation, neurological rehabilitation, respiratory, orthopedics, musculoskeletal injuries, occupational health, elderly rehabilitation and pediatric care. They established their business in September 2011 thanks to support from the BT Scotland Young E-ntrepreneurs fund.
Commenting on the importance of their website, Jennifer said: “Many people looking for a physiotherapist are keen to find out who will be treating them, what the clinic looks like and how much their treatment might cost. All of this information can be found on our website. This helps alleviate some of the worry that people in pain may be experiencing, and having that information available to them means that people are more likely to pick up the phone and call us for an appointment.”
Liz Turner, head of corporate responsibility at BT Scotland, presented the award winners with cash prizes to further develop their business. During the last 12 years, BT Scotland has invested more than £570,000 in the Young E-ntrepreneurs programme, helping 170 young people to start-up in businesses. The funding programme encourages Youth Business Scotland-backed business start-ups to embrace electronic methods of doing business and to use the internet to deliver new markets, with support through grants and loans.
Speaking on behalf of BT Scotland, Liz Turner said: “It’s been another stellar year for our long-term collaboration with Youth Business Scotland. Year in and year out we never fail to be impressed and inspired by the young people who participate in the programme – as they grow, their fledgling businesses become part of the backbone of the Scottish economy. At a time when many young people are struggling to find employment, it’s essential we support our young entrepreneurs and hone and retain their business skills to benefit our nation.”
Heather Gray, director of The Prince’s Trust Scotland, added: “Thanks to BT Scotland’s significant and generous investment over many years, we are able to contribute to the information technology start-up costs for many of the young businesses approaching us, many of whom otherwise might not have been able to take the first steps towards successful self-employment.”
Issued on behalf by PTYBS Jen Nash, Panache Communications tel. 07971 466 220 Email Jen@panachecommunications.co.uk. For further information contact the BT Scotland press office: 0800 085 0660 or Margaret Gibson at Youth Business Scotland on 0141 248 4999.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Hebridean Sea Salt Ltd
Natalie Crayton (07787 850009) email: Natalie@hebrideanseasalt.co.uk
Rebecca Torres Limited
Rebecca Torres (07944 197171) email@ firstname.lastname@example.org
First Class Physiotherapy Ltd
Rachel Catherwood & Jennifer Semple (0141 237 2721) email: email@example.com
Amy Dolan (07772 479894) email: ziggysawdust.co.uk