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HIE support helps Argyll skin care company launch new products

Published: 25/06/2020

A new skincare company based in Argyll has been supported by a business network that helps female entrepreneurs in rural areas.

Moira, Owner at Skirr Skin on her bike

W-Power is a project established in 2018, which Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is participating in as part of the EU Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA) programme.

One strand of the three-year project is an online network that aims to overcome the challenges of remoteness and rurality faced by women-led businesses in sparsely populated areas.

Many of the 50-plus member businesses have been working creatively to find new ways of trading, particularly online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a member of the W-Power network, North Connel entrepreneur Moira Newiss has found the W-Power support particularly valuable during lockdown.

SKIRR Skin Ltd was established by Moira earlier this year after turning her passion for sports and skincare into a business. She subsequently launched her first product – an eco-friendly sports anti-chafing balm that uses zero-waste packaging.  The product was tested out by volunteers who took part in January’s gruelling Tyndrum24 Ultra.

Moira took part in the W-Power virtual innovation pitching competition and was successful in winning 2,000 Euros towards the launch of her first skincare product. The programme allowed her to visit Jokkmokk, Swedish Lapland in November 2019 where she connected with  skincare company c/o Gerd, and visited other female-led businesses in the region.

After turning to HIE for advice, she also received support through the organisation’s Innovate your Business programme that helps develop fresh thinking for commercial success. Support for Moira included one-to-one advice for developing her new products and help to find areas for her business to explore.

Cathy Higginson, W-Power project manager at HIE, said: “The online nature of the W-Power network has proved extremely valuable in supporting members such as Moira across Argyll. We are really pleased that it  is playing an important role during this extremely difficult period. We also recognise that during these challenging times innovation is more important now than ever. The key innovation in Moira’s business is the natural formula and eco-friendly, minimal packaging made from recycled cardboard and we are delighted to be able to support her to launch her innovative products.”

Former NHS business manager, Moira, is also trained as a nutritional therapist and her first product, a sports body balm will help prevent chafing and blisters in athletes. She said: “W-Power was instrumental in helping me set up my business both with financial support as well as building my confidence and as a result I have made connections with key people that I may not have done otherwise. The support I have received from HIE through Innovate your Business has also been excellent and it helped me get my product ideas and designs off the ground. HIE gave me the help I needed to source people with expertise, and the organisation was very supportive in helping us overcome some of the more challenging aspects of the product development process.”

As the company expands, Moira expects to take on staff to support fulfilment, marketing and distribution to meet the growing needs of the business.

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