Textile designer scales up business with help from DigitalBoost

Fiona Thomson, owner of Candy Coated Accessories, has benefitted from the Business Gateway DIgitalBoost programme.jpg

A FRASERBURGH-based textile designer has successfully grown her business with the launch of a new online shop, after accessing support through DigitalBoost, Scotland’s national digital upskilling programme delivered by Business Gateway. 

She is now getting ready to expand her business by working with a new manufacturing partner, based in Fife.

Owned by Fiona Ross, Candy Coated Accessories specialises in the creation of high-quality textile products which includes luxury knitted scarves, mini hot water bottle covers and cotton baby accessories.

Fiona started her business in 2003 after graduating from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design. She worked on her business part-time as she gained experience working as an accessory designer for well-known Scottish manufacturer Johnstons of Elgin, then as a merchandise buyer at BrewDog. However, at the end of 2019 she decided to take the plunge and work on her business full-time.

She started working with Business Gateway in 2020 where she was accepted for a Business Boost programme and received 1:1 support from a business adviser. She received a strategic review of her operations, which helped her rebrand the business and increase her product offering and started manufacturing out-of-house in Shetland.

Fiona also received support from DigitalBoost which included 1:1 support from an adviser who reviewed her website and provided support as she built and launched an online shop. This has helped Fiona reach new customers and supported her applications to Christmas markets in Aberdeen and Dundee, which has increased her direct to customer sales by 30%.

Fiona said, “Working with Business Gateway gave me the confidence I needed to grow my business and make it a success. Through the Business Boost programme, I received 1:1 help, had regular catchups with my adviser, and met other people in a similar position through virtual workshops.

“By working with DigitalBoost, I’ve been able to upskill and learn how to make changes to my website. Before, I wouldn’t have been confident switching up the front page, but now I have the knowledge to make technical changes. The whole package of support has helped push me forward and I’m not sure I’d be in the same position I am now without their support.”

Fiona is now developing a new product with another manufacturer based in Fife and hopes to scale up her operations further by working with a variety of Scottish-based manufacturers to help her meet customer demand. She is also aiming to take on her first part-time employee this year.

Fiona said, “I’m passionate about keeping manufacturing in Scotland, and next year, it is my goal to work with other businesses across the country who can help me create my products and designs. This will give me time to grow my business and scale up my operations further.”

Catherine Homewood, Business Gateway adviser, said, “By working with our team of advisers, Fiona has been able to focus on where she wants to take her business and it’s placed her in a strong position for growth. 

“Nobody immediately knows how to run a business, and while Fiona now has all the tools to achieve her business objectives, I’m confident Business Gateway will remain a vital resource for her as she moves forward.”

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