Ayrshire pensioner’s hobby becomes unexpected business hit

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Rowena paton

An Ayrshire pensioner who began making woollen neckwarmers as a hobby is now selling over one hundred a month to customers across the UK and beyond.

Rowena Paton, 66, retired after working at Marks & Spencer for 40 years but quickly grew bored of her new lifestyle and began making stylish neckwarmers to sell at craft fairs.

Promoting her products on Facebook led to greater demand and with support from Business Gateway Ayrshire, she set up Sew Nice Neckwarmers.

Now, her fashionable accessory is available in shops in Orkney, Moray, Aberdeenshire, Fife, Ayrshire, Northampton and Surrey, as well as selling to customers in Canada, Austria, USA and the Falkland Islands.

Rowena said: “The response to my neckwarmers has been overwhelming and I still can’t quite believe how many orders we are getting in. My idea is simple but I spent a lot of time testing materials including faux fur and wool until I had the perfect suppliers which has played a huge part in the quality.

“I can’t praise Business Gateway enough for the help I was given in setting up and running Sew Nice Neckwarmers. My adviser not only gave me confidence but took me out of my comfort zone to make sure I had an action plan in place that would also allow me to develop and grow. I also learned so much about business from the free workshops Business Gateway offer.”

Caroline Duff, Business Adviser, Business Gateway said: “Instantly I felt Rowena’s product range had a lot of potential as they were so beautifully designed and prepared. As well as giving Rowena support, it was clear she needed marketing advice and so we introduced her to Scottish Enterprise who arranged Innovation Support on market intelligence and business development, whilst our DigitalBoost programme enhanced Rowena’s use of digital media.”

Rowena’s neckwarmers are different from traditional scarves and can be worn as an accessory to an outfit as well as keeping your neck warm in winter. Currently testing out a limited summer range, Rowena is also hoping to add clutch bags to her collection later on this year.

Rowena added: “I need to keep things fresh by adding new products to my range and giving my customers options. Our customers are key to our success and it’s all down to their love of the neckwarmers that I’m in this position. But my main aim at the moment is to stockpile for the inevitable winter demand and hopefully secure some more stockists.

“I feel ten years younger since setting up the business and at my age it feels wonderful to be learning new things and doing something different.”

Find out how Business Gateway Ayrshire can help your business by visiting their local page or calling 01292 427 552.

Outwith this area? Find your local Business Gateway office or call 0300 013 4753.

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