Clare Ferguson - Women of Inspiration 2016

Scotsburn Croft design and produce a range of fashion bags, accessories, home furnishings and ceramics all of which reflect the rich heritage of the Highland croft but with a tilt to the modern way of living. 

What is your current role within the company?

I am the owner/director

What is your background prior to working for this company/setting up your company?

I set up Scotsburn Croft as an alternative to working in the Oil Industry and as a diversification business within the Croft that I live on.  I have over 18 years’ experience of working in industry and 3 as the owner of Scotsburn Croft. I currently still work as on offshore chemist operator on a North Sea platform whilst running Scotsburn Croft.

What makes your company and/or your role stand out?

Answering this is very difficult. There are so many brilliant, motivated, successful business women out there and whilst I am delighted to achieve this award I am somewhat humbled. If I am brave enough to look at the person that others may see from the outside, then I could allow myself to recognise that I am driven, focused and determined but at the same time open minded and empathic.

I have found that goals are paramount but understanding that achieving them is not a straight line trajectory is important. You will always be faced with problems, be it in your working life, personal life or something out of your control. Accepting them and believing that you can find a solution is all you need. Use the network of support that you build around you during your career and your wider network of friends and family to help.

What is your area of expertise / inspiration?

I am a science graduate. My inspiring figures were inventors and scientists past and present. Reading encyclopaedias is a strong childhood memory. My career choices/changes in industry tie in closely with various milestones in my life. I began my career as a laboratory technician moving upwards to Chemist and then Quality Assurance Officer. Having my first child saw me move from this to the oil industry as I felt a change was needed. Here I started again as a technician but then moved up to Environmental Focal Point (advisor). After the birth of my second child I made the huge decision to work off-shore and go back to working as a chemist. I knew working off shore would allow me to have a good work/home balance. I have just completed a stage of my production training and am now a chemist operator as well as being part of the Emergency Response Team as a Coxswain.

I set up Scotsburn Croft as I felt the platform I was working on may have a short life expectancy and I didn’t know if there was any guarantee that I would remain in employment after it was decommissioned. As time has progressed the industry itself is now in global crisis and there is a long road to recovery. Remaining employed, whilst achievable, will be challenging.

Scotsburn Croft products are all handmade and incorporate innovative designs with bold and breath-taking colours inspired by the highland Landscape.

In the beginning I was responsible for everything. From designing the fabric and the products to understanding product protection and developing a brand. I sourced accounts and raw materials and carried out  all admin and social media management. As time has progressed I now employ 3 people and work with 2 others who are self-employed. Scotsburn Croft started in a garden shed and has now developed into a thriving online shop and retail outlet on Invergordon High Street. We have a big social media following.

 2015 was my most challenging business/career year to date. I made the decision to grow the business and employ staff whilst undergoing the biggest scale redundancy I had seen during my career in industry. Nearly 50% of my colleagues were made redundant. To remain employed, I now work a rotation of three weeks away and three weeks at home. I made the choice to stay working off shore as my platform will be decommissioned in 2017. Knowing that an end is defiantly on its way is my focus and my goal for the continuing growth of Scotsburn Croft. 

What are your plans for the future?

In 2016 Scotsburn Croft products will be available to trade. We are also looking at expanding globally. Our premises underwent a major refit in January and we now have the addition of a tea room / take away selling homemade soup and baking. 

What inspires or motivates you?

I am motivated by life and inspired by the experiences of growing up in the Highlands of Scotland, an area where real family and community values hold strong and I have tried to reflect this in all that I do.