Candle company on the scent of international growth

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Candle and home fragrance company Essence of Harris has set its sights on international growth after registering with the Bank of Scotland’s International Trade Portal.

Created by Jamie and Deenie McGowan, Essence of Harris is a family-run business that makes hand-poured candles using 100% soya wax and home fragrance products. The products are both inspired by and named after the Isle of Harris’ world renowned beaches and scenery.

Essence of Harris has two shops – one on the island, in Tarbert, and another in Inverness Airport.

From its factory on Harris, the company also supplies 46 retail outlets across the UK and two abroad – one in Thailand and another in North Carolina, America.

The company, which won an Entrepreneurial Spark award last year, employs nine people on the Isle of Harris and in Inverness and has recently hired two US based sales reps – one in North Carolina and one in South Carolina.

Essence of Harris now aspires to significantly increase its exports to America and to begin exporting its products to Germany.

The company has used Bank of Scotland’s online International Trade Portal, which helps Scottish businesses identify and prioritise the best overseas opportunities for their products or services, to navigate the next stage of its exporting growth.

To support its exporting ambitions, the Bank of Scotland provided Essence of Harris with a £15,000 funding facility, allowing it to invest in stock and attract new customers.

Jamie McGowan, Director at Essence of Harris, said: “As the popularity of scented candles increased, we saw a gap in the market as no one was producing anything locally.”

“We started out by experimenting with natural scents, mixes and ingredients in our kitchen. Now we’re looking to sell our creations on the other side of the world – it’s an exciting prospect.

“We’re proud not just of the products we make, but also of the employment we have created for a small island economy.

“Exporting to new markets is the next step for us to keep the momentum going. Most of Harris’ tourists come from Germany and America so these countries are an obvious choice for us – they have a natural affinity with our wee island.”

Lindsay MacLeod, relationship manager at the Bank of Scotland, said: “We’ve known Essence of Harris since it first embarked upon its business ventures in 2015.

“The company’s success with its bespoke, high-quality products coupled with its energy and drive, make it an ideal candidate for exporting.

“Essence of Harris registered with the International Trade Portal earlier this year and have quickly taken full advantage of it in exporting to Thailand.

“It’s been wonderful to see this authentically Scottish business develop and I look forward to seeing it explore new territory.

“Essence of Harris is an excellent example of how, with a good idea, ambition and the correct guidance, Scottish businesses can achieve their goals.

“The Bank of Scotland is committed to helping Britain prosper through supporting SMEs like Essence of Harris fulfil their potential.”