I started my own business when l was 18 – a peedie while ago now! I was blessed with entrepreneurial parents who brought up our family with a strong work ethic and a confidence that we could succeed in whatever we chose to do in life. My twin sister Jane Glue is a very well-known watercolour artist, my brother Donald runs the family market garden business, Wellpark Garden Centre, and Gus, my oldest brother, used to run The Oakwood Restaurant outside Inverness at Dochgarroch.
In 1979, I moved into my existing premises opposite St Magnus Cathedral in Broad Street, Kirkwall. It was originally Orkney’s first supermarket and had been empty for two years. My father said I was crazy to take on such a large shop but I was young and full of energy and nothing was going to stop me succeeding, which was just the way we had all been brought up.
I then started making my own Orkney knitwear designs as I always loved colour and texture and have always been very affected by Orkney's landscape, history and light, which I wanted to translate into my designs. I’ve been lucky over the years to have had a great team of knitters and finishers behind me, but sadly these days they are hard to find and handmade knitwear is a dying art.
A few years later, I began selling online and Orkney Hampers was born. We now stock a huge range of produce in both my Inverness and Orkney shops and online sales are very important to us.
In 1988 my daughter Annie was born. She is now a knitwear designer living in Orkney and you can see her collection here online or in my shops.
In the 1990s, I opened two shops on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh which proved to be very successful but far too expensive to run! So I decided to concentrate my efforts closer to home. By this time, my second child Sam was born and I was keen to spend more time with him.
My husband David and I became partners in the business and we both felt the time was right to open our Inverness shop at 15 Bridge Street. Two years later, in 2011, we opened our Real Food Cafe in the back of our Orkney shop, which concentrates on cooking local Orkney produce.
My ethos has always been to support my local community by selling produce made within Orkney and the Highlands and Islands. Today, over 60% of our business turnover is locally-made products. These days, with large supermarkets and shopping centres, it’s hard to find something that’s truly different. I hope that we succeed in doing this while offering our customers original choices that are local, handmade and unique whether it is food, jewellery, textiles, stationery, clothing or gifts.
I very much hope you enjoy looking at our website and manage to visit us in Orkney and Inverness in the near future.