Country Bazaar…Small is Beautiful in the Highlands of Scotland
The Beautiful Business project has profiled a significant number of small and medium sized businesses, and each has its own special and unique contribution to make. It was the great E.F. Schumacher who coined the phrase small is beautiful. Don’t let anyone tell you that bigger, louder and more is in any way better. This profile is a beautiful micro business, based in the beautiful highlands of Scotland; this is Country Bazaar.
As the smallest business unit (which the EU defines as less than ten employees…ten is big!) many micro businesses often go unrecognised for the amazing and inspirational work they do. As Hayley Chalmers of micro business Short Couture quipped, “We’re not ignored by government, we are invisible to government”! Micro businesses need our support. Values formed at home, often not considered as newsworthy as the grand CSR pronouncements of the corporates, the micro business is delivering sustainable, local initiatives reflecting local values, skills and inspiration. In this case, the essential qualities of the Scottish Highlands.
Though the seeds for the business were sown more than a decade ago, Country Bazaar was formed in February 2012 by Anne Omand, a multi-talented, multi-tasking sole proprietor/maker and designer. Based in the beautiful Highlands of Scotland, Anne shares her wee cottage, with her son and two cats, Cookie and Binka.
At Country Bazaar, Anne designs and makes a range of women’s accessories – brooches, scarves, hats, bags and a small selection of exclusive decorative items for the home. This is a business as much part of the local landscape, as a reflection of it. A business reflecting and supporting local skills and the local community. Taking her inspiration from the natural environment, all her accessories are strongly influenced by the Highland landscape and colours that surround her. Accessories built upon her principles and values, the premise for choosing raw materials is that they should support small scale producers, they must be natural, and where possible naturally dyed, organic or Fair Trade. All packaging is bio-degradable or can be recycled. Anne explains her supply chain rationale…
When sourcing raw materials I start in the middle of my circle and work my way out, by firstly buying locally if possible, then from the UK and finally if materials come from outside the EU, I purchase Fair Trade from a trusted UK supplier.
In crafting her designs, Anne strives to re-use vintage cottons and pre-loved felted woollens in her work From raw materials to the finished product, the core value for her business is the impact that production has on people and the environment – it must be of mutual benefit.
The Scottish element is very strong in her designs. She says…
I use Harris Tweed for my signature T’wee’d birds. I get this direct from the mill on Harris and I use the Harris tweed yarn in my knitted pieces such as bags. Harris Tweed is the only cloth protected by an Act of Parliament and as a result is still woven in the homes of the weavers using pedal power!
Her knitted designs use artisan yarns from around Scotland and the Islands. One of her favourite’s is the wool from North Ronaldsay, where the sheep have been grazing the island’s beaches, eating seaweed, in much the same way since the Iron Age, and produce one of the warmest wools she says she has come across.
Anne’s designs, skills and materials reflect a deep respect for place, history and heritage. Knitting and wool are a large part of Scottish culture and heritage, and a large part of what Anne produces as a maker. She says…
I have been passionate about knitting and wool since I was around seven years of age and my mother taught me to knit my first stitch and took me with her to mills and shops filled with woolly treasure. I think what makes my business special is the care that goes into choosing the fabrics and yarns, the origin of those materials, whether that be; natural, naturally dyed, Fair Trade, organic, vintage or up-cycled, and finally my own unique designs reflecting my Scottish connection.
Finding this level of connection in large businesses is rare. It’s time to support the small, the smaller and the micro business like Country Bazaar. If you want to know more about this beautiful business or want to say hello, you can find more at the Website: http://www.countrybazaar.weebly.com or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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