A YOUNG Thornton businesswoman has been named as the winner of a prestigious tourism award.
Kathryn Neale (29) who runs ‘Glass by Kathryn’ was the winner of the Personal Growth and Development award at the annual Moffat Travel and Tourism Awards held at the Blythswood Hotel in Glasgow, run by The Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust.
Now into her fifth year running her shop on Thornton Main Street, Kathyrn says that business is better than ever, despite her reservations when she first started out.
“It took a lot of persuasion and encouragement from my mum and dad, and in particular my grandfather, before I decided I would try it,” she said. “I didn’t really know anything about going into business.
“But just four months after leaving art college I did a trade show and got lots of sales so that helped me to make up my mind. Now I supply over 300 shops and galleries.”
After receiving help and advice initially from Business Gateway in Glenrothes Kathryn was put in touch with The Prince’s Trust who helped in getting her name known, as well as giving the royal seal of approval.
She said: “They were fantastic in taking me to events where I would get to meet people and potential customers. I’ve now met Prince Charles on four separate occasions who was very encouraging. The publicity alone from events like that is really helpful.”
Glass By Kathryn offers a whole range of glass giftware, clocks, candleware up to large sculptures.
“Whatever you want, I’ll do it!” said Kathryn. “My prices range from around £350 up to £2000.”
At the Tourism Awards Kathyrn was praised for her “passion and positive impact” and says winning the award meant a lot.
“I am absolutely over the moon,” she said. “Especially as it was for representing Scotland.
“It came about because I was asked to do a range of Scottish products which I must admit I wasn’t too sure about, but I went ahead and did it and it flew off the shelves. So now I’m run off my feet!”
Kathryn is particularly pleased that her business is booming during a recession. She said: “I was asked at the awards ceremony what my greatest achievement has been, I said ‘still being in business’.
“Unfortunately I know a lot of people whose businesses closed, especially in the last two years, so I’m delighted that I’m still able to keep going.”
Despite the gloomy financial outlook across the country Kathryn said that going into business at a young age is the best time to try and has a message for other young people who are thinking of branching out on their own: “Go for it.”
“I just thought what have I got to lose? I was still staying at home so I wasn’t going to lose my house or anything. Also the over 30s don’t really get the support that younger people do, so just give it a try. I did, I do everything myself and I absolutely love it.
“What have you got to lose?”