It's time for some more Gold Nuggets where we talk with some of our most loved makers, founders and do-ers. Digging into their stories to reveal tips, precious wisdom, and even some music to get your under-the-desk feet dancing.
We sat down with our long time friend Hilary Grant to pick her brain about running her knitwear business and what she's learned about running her business in Orkney.
Tell us about yourself and your business
I run a knitwear company under my own name Hilary Grant, on a remote island off the North Coast of Scotland called Orkney. I started my business 2011, designing scarves and knitting everything myself on a hand-operated knitting machine. We're now a 2 person business, with my partner Rob joining me on design and running the online shop and all our knitwear is now produced with a knitwear manufacturer in Scotland. We sell our knitwear online and to department stores and design-led lifestyle stores in over 5 countries.
What’s the one thing you wish you knew in your first year?
Have goals and celebrate smashing them. Learn from mistakes.
When you're a small company, you sometimes don't have the time or even notice when you're achieving things - you're always moving on to the next task. It's good to celebrate when good things happen, it gives you the motivation to move on and allows you to take stock of your achievements.
Top 3 tips for growing a brand in a remote location
Social media is basically a lifeline for our business when we live in such a remote place. But having really brilliant content is what makes people stick around. It can genuinely be an isolating experience, running a business in a remote place but Instagram allows you to build a little world around yourself with people who support what you do and meet other businesses and creatives who inspire you and you can support in return.
Physical face-to-face events are so important for us as it gives us a chance to meet the lovely people to support us online. It also gives you the opportunity to make chance encounters with all sorts of people outside our social media circle. We do a lot of pop up shopping events in winter and I think it really means a lot to people to be able to touch our knitwear and feel it before making a purchase. Our knitwear feel so soft and tactile - one thing you can't show people through the internet!
Instagram has been a brilliant driver for us, but we don't want to rely on it too much. Kaye has been quite evangelical about newsletters for quite some time and we're ready to jump in with that now.
What was the best bit of advice you were given and who gave you it?
Make a plan and stick to it. We worked with brilliant woman called Kirsty Scott to help us build a growth strategy. It was the best thing we've ever done for our business.
What’s your ambition for your business?
We like being small as it offers us flexibility. For us the driver for the business really comes from the creative side - so we think about other products we'd like to make, techniques we'd like to develop and figure out how to reign it in to be commercial and accessible to people. We'd love to start working with more interior designers on bespoke projects and large-scale pieces.
What song motivates you in the studio and why?
It's hard to choose just one song. If I need to concentrate I'll listen to Disasterpiece. On Friday afternoon, when I'm trying to wrap up everything for the weekend I'l make a point of listening to Yo La Tengo's cover of "Friday I'm in Love". It's good for a Friday dance around the studio and getting into the weekend spirit!