Success looms for former Heriot-Watt student
In three years, Vicky Swales has gone from being a student at Heriot-Watt, to a janitor, to a bespoke designer and manufacturer of quality scarves in her workspace in Selkirk.
Vicky, 25, left her home in Dunfermline to study at Heriot-Watt University, where she straight away knew what she wanted to do.
She said: “I started weaving in my first year and I fell in love with it.
“I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I graduated, and started off working with a 150-year-old loom in the Mac Arts Centre in Galashiels in exchange for doing janitor duties – letting people in, locking doors and stuff.”
But she knew she needed help to get where she wanted to be – with her own business, based in the Borders.
She said: “There’s so much textiles history and tradition here, everyone I have met has some link to a weaving mill.”
Looking for support and advice, she contacted Business Gateway.
She said: “They put me in touch with Tara Bolland of the Prince’s Trust, who guided me through the application process for a £5,000 loan for my loom – and I was awarded the money.
“Then I moved to Dunsdale Properties in August 2014, to this spacious room, that’s full of light.”
Now, Vicky is about to launch a new range of high-quality cotton scarves – which are all handmade and cost between £50-100.
She says of the range: “It’s a traditional process, but using contemporary design.
“I’m inspired by architecture ... using patterns from parts of buildings that most people wouldn’t notice.”
She said the Prince’s Trust is a valuable resource beyond the funding.
“I’m in touch with Tara quite often and she gives me a lot of support and advice, and she has given me a lot of opportunity to display my business to the community.”
Vicky is showing off her historic craft in a living history weekend in The Haining, Selkirk, in May.
For more information, visit www.vickyswalestextiles.co.uk