Craft producers Orkney Tweed will receive £5,000 cash, up to £5,000 specialist support to set their idea in motion alongside support from Co-operative Development Scotland to form their consortium.
Founded by Deerness-based small holder Nancy Fergus and craft producer Fiona Mitchell - Orkney Tweed’s aim is to create opportunities for local sheep owners and tweed manufacturers by promoting and selling locally crafted products to national and international markets.
The consortium will act as a wool broker, making it easier and more economical for Orkney’s small holders to sell their fleeces. It will also lead on product development, quality control and marketing, which will benefit its craft producing membership through combined sales and the creation of an internationally recognisable Orkney Tweed brand.
Speaking of their success in the Collaboration Prize, Nancy said: “Currently, the process for collecting and processing raw wool can be difficult and uneconomic, particularly for small holders with just a few sheep.
“By joining forces, small holders and craft producers can achieve mutual benefit by creating a simple process for gathering fleeces, building a stock of quality cloth and shop-ready materials and marketing them together under a united brand.
“Our ultimate goal is to use the profit generated by the collaboration to develop processing and manufacturing facilities on the island, which will reduce costs and carbon emissions while giving members greater control over quality. Currently, the wool needs to be shipped to Shetland for processing, however, we’d like to bring this to the island and create a central hub for Orkney Tweed.
“Winning the Collaboration Prize has given us a unique opportunity to access professional help to develop our brand and make our organisation stronger. It will also enable us to create the ideal hub to support the producers and give all members a better return for their efforts. For our local community, it will aid the sustainability of Island living.”