Your year in lockdown: Kirkcaldy giftware business optimistic as restrictions ease
One Kirkcaldy company is looking ahead with optimism after weathering the storms of lockdown.
The family-run Just Slate Company makes hand crafted gifts - you’ll see their work outlets from Rejects to John Lewis, as well as in restaurants and hotels across Scotland.
Its products, which have a distinct Scottish heritage, also appeal to the tourism market, and sell well in Europe.
When lockdown hit, they took stock and, in the words of owner, Donny Carstairs, worked harder and longer - and tapped into a new way of getting their products to customers.
Trade shows across Europe which formed a part of their annual calendar were cancelled, and with retail closed, they looked to online and saw the potential of drop shipping websites.
We’ve all used them throughout lockdown- they are sites which let us browse products from a range of companies, and everything is then delivered to our door.
Mr Carstairs said: “Buying habits changed, and there is more confidence shopping online - people are used to deliveries arriving at their door now.
“We have 20 lines in John Lewis stores across the UK. They are now closing stores, but, with drop shipping we can still have that plus another 40 online ready to go, and John Lewis also increases its product range without having to increase its stock.
“Retail bought high volumes. That will change.. It is now about value added service, and that gives power back from the High Street to the manufacturer, and we can invest more in products and creativity.”
By August, the company was back to full production, and this month it launched its 2021 range.
The absence of trade shows abroad didn’t impact - “people were still buying while not going to the events” - , and the “bump in the road” of Brexit has been negotiated.
And that European market is important.
“Last year we sold more on the continent than previous years,” said Mr Carstairs
“Our products sell well alongside UK and Scottish products - there is an appetite for what we do out there.”With business gearing up for a long-awaited return, Mitchelston based Just Slate are looking ahead with confidence.
“We can see things starting to bubble up. Demand is picking up and people do have money to spend. We are pretty optimistic.