Case Studies

Barra business keeps age-old knitted tradition alive 

A Hebridean knitwear business has developed its marketing strategy and benefited from funding after receiving advice and support from Business Gateway.

11th March 2022

About the business

Based on the Isle of Barra, Herring Girl Collection’s creative team of knitters use traditional patterns and styles first developed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, to produce long-lasting and stylish garments, including hats, scarves, and gloves.

Inspired by the hard work and tenacity of the traditional ‘Herring Girls’, who spent months away from home following shoals of herring around the British coast, the knitwear range pays tribute to the time the girls spent knitting designs such as anchors, ship’s wheels, and hearts of marriage lines.

Each unique product Herring Girl Collection’s team of knitters creates is given a name and registration number of a fishing boat that is historically linked back to the Herring Girl era.

I approached Business Gateway looking to improve my overall marketing strategy and to develop my digital skillset. My adviser was incredibly helpful and was always there to answer any questions I had.

How Business Gateway has helped

Although the business, which launched in 2019, was performing well, owner Margaret Anne Elder knew that the pandemic would impact her sales performance. She approached Business Gateway for help to strengthen her digital skills and improve her overall marketing strategy to ensure the survival of her business.

Margaret Anne accessed 1:1 support from a dedicated business adviser and received advice on funding, which led to a grant worth £2,000 through the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Grant Scheme (CERGS). This funding was critical for producing promotional items for marketing purposes.

Margaret Anne also benefited from a suite of DigitalBoost support, including a Digital Health Check and 1:1 support which helped to develop her marketing strategy, e-commerce website and plans for the future of the business.

This support has helped Herring Girl Collection expand its wholesale offering, with products now sold in a fourth shop in An Lanntair in Stornoway, adding to its existing retail outlets in Barra, Benbecula and Skye.  In addition to this, Herring Girl Collection’s products can be found in boxes from Scottish subscription box service WeeBox, which has been critical for improving the international presence of the business.  

Margaret Anne Elder, Founder of Herring Girl Collection, said: “I approached Business Gateway looking to improve my marketing strategy and to develop my digital skillset. My adviser was incredibly helpful and was always there to answer any questions I had.

“I have now expanded my client base and successfully grown Herring Girl Collection despite the challenges we have faced over the past couple of years. I can’t thank Business Gateway enough for their support and guidance.”

Support Provided

1:1 Business Adviser or Support

1:1 DigitalBoost Support

Advice on Premises

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