Black Isle tartan weaving mill vision stronger than ever as Prickly Thistle entrepreneur rides out coronavirus crisis
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THE woman behind a trailblazing initiative to bring tartan weaving back to the Highlands says the coronavirus crisis has merely served to strengthened her resolve – despite it setting back plans for an eagerly anticipated new mill on the Black Isle.
Clare Campbell of Prickly Thistle is set to breathe new life into a century-old agricultural steading to create the Black House Mill after a global crowdfunding appeal backed her vision.
With construction work still required and the global pandemic bringing such work to a grinding halt for several months, the decision to push back the opening and continue in temporary premises on Evanton Industrial Estate has not disheartened the determined entrepreneur.
She said: "It's a marathon and not a sprint. Coronavirus has just taken our passion and commitment to a whole other level. The world has not advanced by the idea of constantly creating new things just for the sake of having more things. Businesses have a responsibility to be positive activists in what we do.
"I hope during the crisis that people think more about the power of the pound or dollar they have. We as consumers affect everything. Consumers can change the world tomorrow. People are more powerful and influential than they can ever imagine. I hope people ask questions and realise they have a lot of influence.
"It's about making people think about lots of different things. It's not just clans, tourists and the Royal Mile. It's about identity and values. We are not just this wee tartan mill in the Highlands. I think a lot of people get it."
Ms Campbell has been far from idle, keeping the heritage looms she has lovingly restored in working order, progressing research and devcelopment and quietly making and donating hundreds of face masks fashioned from kilt lining material. The Covid-19 crisis has also seen her step up collaboration with students carrying out masters' degree research as she looks at particle filtration in fabrics.
Her passion for sustainably sourced and manufactured fabrics is a touchstone she returns to time and again, inviting people to check the labels on their clothes and to investigate the use of micro-plastics and modern slavery.
She sees her Highland heritage as a gift and says: "We will take all of that spirit and tenacity. It is something that is in our DNA. We have this amazing storytelling cloth. It should have a new chapter in the 21st century. Natural fabrics are part of the solution rather than plastics. We want to be working with the planet a bit more. We've had really influential people share what we do."
Whie planning her own small team's route out of hibernation, she maintains a determination to create quality jobs in the Highlands. I want to be proud of Scotland. We should be better. We will not be beaten. We never give up. We want to create more jobs for more people. We are not going away.
"The right path is not always the easy path. If we don't take the first step we will never get there."