Success is all sewn up

Clare O'Neill with some of her Harris Tweed creations

Clare O'Neill with some of her Harris Tweed creations

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A fledgling Fife textiles business is already supplying its products to over 30 retailers in some of Scotland’s most popular tourism destinations.

Clare O’Neill, of Cupar-based Clare O’Neill Textiles, produces bags, accessories, home wares and children’s clothes, using iconic Harris tweed fabric.

She’s been given a helping hand by Business Gateway Fife, which has supported her as she grows her venture.

“I started out in January 2013 and became very busy, very fast,” said Clare.

“While I have lots of office management experience, and I’m usually very organised, I was so busy fulfilling orders that I began to let that side of the business go.

“Business Gateway Fife has been a fantastic support mechanism and my business adviser, Sam, who I now look upon as my mentor, came out to see me and help me get back on track.

“Sam helped me access support through Fife Council’s Expert Help Programme, which provided me with an expert to advise on my businesses finances, plus he sign posted me to the various sources of funding available.”

When her husband was first posted to RAF Leuchars in 2010, Clare, a mother of one, had no idea that their move to Scotland from RAF Honington in Suffolk would also mark an exciting new chapter in her career.

“I’d been working in human resources for a few years but prior to that had graduated from art college with a degree in textiles,” she explained.

“My plan was to start designing again when we got here and I soon developed a love for Harris Tweed and began making my own designs.

“I began by exhibiting at a few craft fairs, and then attended bigger shows such as the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate and the Scottish Trade Fair in Glasgow.”

Clare was then contacted by a buyer from Kiltane Retail Ltd., a company which owns several shops in Edinburgh City Centre.

After placing several large orders, they have now appointed her design maker for their Harris tweed handbag collection.

For more information on Clare O’Neill Textiles, visit www.clareoneilltextiles.co.uk.