Herring Girl Collection

A Hebridean knitwear business has developed its marketing strategy after working with Business Gateway.

Herring Girl Collection- Margaret Anne

Based on the Isle of Barra, Herring Girl Collection’s creative team of knitters use traditional patterns and styles first developed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, to produce long-lasting and stylish garments, including hats, scarves, and gloves.

Inspired by the hard work and tenacity of the traditional Herring Girls, who spent months away from home following shoals of herring around the British coast, the knitwear range pays tribute to the time the girls spent knitting designs such as anchors, ship’s wheels, and hearts of marriage lines.

Each unique product Herring Girl Collection’s team of knitters creates is given a name and registration number of a fishing boat that is historically linked back to the Herring Girl era.

Although the business, which launched in 2019, was performing well, owner Margaret Anne Elder knew that the pandemic would impact her sales performance. She was determined to upskill and improve her overall marketing strategy to ensure this didn’t happen and approached Business Gateway for help.

Herring Girl Collection Model

Margaret Anne accessed 1:1 support from a dedicated business adviser and received advice on funding, which led to a grant worth £2,000 through the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Grant Scheme (CERGS). This funding was critical for producing promotional items for marketing purposes.

Margaret Anne also benefited from a suite of DigitalBoost support, including a Digital HealthCheck and 1-1 support which helped to develop her marketing strategy, e-commerce website and plans for the future of the business.

This support has helped Herring Girl Collection expand its wholesale offering, with products now sold in a fourth shop in An Lanntair in Stornoway, adding to its existing retail outlets in Barra, Benbecula and Skye.  In addition to this, Herring Girl Collection’s products can be found in boxes from Scottish subscription box service WeeBox, which has been critical for improving the international presence of the business.

Margaret Anne Elder, Founder of Herring Girl Collection, said: “I approached Business Gateway looking to improve my marketing strategy and digitally upskill. My adviser couldn’t have been more helpful and was there to answer any questions I had.

“I have now expanded my client base and grown despite the challenges over the past couple of years. I can’t thank Business Gateway enough for the support.”

Catherine Macdonald, Business Gateway adviser, said: “Margaret Anne has taken the many obstacles that COVID presented in her stride and this approach has ensured Herring Girl Collection has grown over a short space of time.

“When faced with a difficult trading period, Margaret Anne identified areas to develop her skills and worked with Business Gateway to ensure her business is now not just surviving, but thriving.” 

For further information on how Business Gateway can help your business, visit the Business Gateway (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) website.