Founder Marie Gillies, ScentiNess

A new home fragrances business has successfully launched on the Isle of Lewis after the owner accessed £4,500 with support from Business Gateway.

Founded by Marie Gillies in April 2021 after she converted a shed at her home into a workshop, ScentiNess produces candles, wax melts and reed diffusers. Customers are also given the option of personalising products with their name or dates important to them.

The business initially began as a hobby, with Marie starting it alongside her full-time job as a Harris Tweed weaver. However, the national lockdown in 2020 gave her time to develop her spark of an idea into a business, and she approached Business Gateway for support as she set about launching ScentiNess.

By working with Business Gateway, Marie was able to access 1:1 advisor support, advice on her business plan, webinars on starting a business and was signposted to funding opportunities.

Following this, Marie was awarded a £2,500 grant through the Outer Hebrides Young Entrepreneurs Start Up Scheme, which is fully funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and delivered by Business Gateway.  Marie also accessed a £2,000 loan through the Comhairle’s Revolving Loan Fund, also delivered by Business Gateway. This funding enabled her to purchase vital equipment and convert her shed into a bespoke workshop.

Marie said, “Business Gateway’s package of start-up support has been vital for me as I’ve set about turning my hobby into a business. Through them, I was able to gain access to the wider business support network in the Western Isles and Scotland. This funding was critical to helping my business get off the ground and scale up from my kitchen table. More generally, while I’m comfortable with the day-to-day aspect of running a business, building a brand is new to me, and the advice and resources have helped me identify gaps in my knowledge and build my confidence, particularly across social platforms. 

Marie also accessed support through DigitalBoost, Scotland’s national digital training programme, delivered by Business Gateway and attended webinars on social media and customer retention. Using this knowledge, Marie recently launched a new website and social media pages for ScentiNess to increase brand awareness and reach a wider market.

Marie said, “Through DigitalBoost, I was able to access a range of national webinars from my own home, which has been a huge help as I’ve focused on digital upskilling and how to sell my products online. I’ve now recently utilised my skills and launched a website for my business, alongside new social media platforms to help me reach a bigger market.”

Fiona Chisholm, Business Gateway adviser, said: “For many new businesses, funding and grants are vital to ensuring start-ups can purchase vital equipment that will help them get off the ground. Our advisers are perfectly placed to support this, boasting connections with a variety of business support organisations across the country and knowledge about potential funding options. For Marie, this has meant a successful launch for ScentiNess, with the opportunity to pursue a new career direction. “For anyone in a similar position as Marie, or perhaps if you are holding back because of challenges around start-up costs, please reach out to your local Business Gateway office to see how we can help.”