Former lawyer swaps oil rigs for spa oils


A former corporate lawyer has swapped North Sea oil for therapeutic essential oils with the launch of her luxury skincare company, Talla Spa Scotland.

Susan Kilvington spent her legal career buying and selling oil fields but, inspired by the Peeblesshire landscape and looking for a career change, she decided to turn her passion for natural skincare into a business.

After turning to Business Gateway Scottish Borders for advice, Susan launched Talla Spa Scotland earlier this year. With the help of her adviser she then secured funding from the Scottish Borders Business Fund (SBBF) and accessed support from Business Gateway’s Expert Help programme to launch

The e-commerce site, which is now live, will be used to help increase direct consumer sales and provide a promotional route to potential wholesale and retail stockists.

Susan, who stays in Peebles, said: “Talla Spa Scotland provides luxury, handmade and natural products that allow people to indulge in a spa experience in their own homes. After I left my law practice I re-connected with an old interest of mine - making my own beauty products. Friends who received my face masks, soaps and bath bombs as gifts wanted to buy more for themselves and their friends and that’s when Talla Spa Scotland came into being. 

“Because of my background I thought I had some experience of buying and selling, however, natural skincare products are a bit different to oil rigs! Launching my own business has been an eye-opener as I am now driving discussions and taking the lead, bringing Talla Spa Scotland products to market. It has been challenging at times but Business Gateway has been a great help and it is so exciting to be gearing up for my first year of Christmas trading. 

“I completed a number of Business Gateway’s start-up and DigitalBoost workshops and my adviser, who has been amazing, helped me with my business plan and my successful application for an SBBF grant. That funding, together with access to an Expert Help mentor, allowed me to work with a fantastic graphic and product packaging designer, buy new soap moulds, access marketing support, and invest in professional product photography.”

Wilma Norris, Business Gateway, said: “Susan understood how big business worked but needed support when launching her own enterprise. Our advice has increased her understanding of how to establish a business and helped her access funds that have allowed her to create a professional brand. Our support, which included accessing Expert Help, a programme of support funded by the European Regional Development Fund, coupled with her past experience has put Susan on the right track to develop Talla Spa Scotland into a leading lifestyle brand.”

Having stumbled upon one of the Borders’ hidden gems – Talla Reservoir – whilst out exploring the region one winter's morning, Susan felt the beauty and tranquillity of the reservoir was akin to a great spa experience.

She said: “The reservoir was simply stunning that day; the colours were lovely and it was so very peaceful. I’d been looking for a business name that represented my love of Scotland and its wonderful ingredients, and Talla seemed perfect as a backdrop for my nature inspired products in every way. Talla Spa Scotland’s current seasonal fragrances are mostly uplifting citrus and festive notes, with a floral range inspired by lush Scottish summer garden scents in development for the New Year.  I’m also looking to develop new products including liquid hand soaps and facial oils, which use ingredients found in the Borders’ like thistle oil, sea buckthorn oil and heather extracts.”

Find out how Business Gateway Scottish Borders can help your business by visiting their local pages or call 01835 818315.

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

Contact your local office

If you need advice on any aspect of starting, running or developing your business, just contact your local Business Gateway office.

Download your business plan template

Get your business plan started with this template, which shows you what to include. Download yours here – it’s free.

Download your business plan template