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Cta Man

WELAN

Island grown fashion that's breathing life into old traditions and reaching customers worldwide.

Sustainable and ethical life and work choices

Set up by Jason and Yvonne Lancaster in 2019, WELAN is a slow fashion, eco-conscious business based on the Isle of Tiree. They make handmade hats from the fleece of their flock of orphaned sheep using traditional methods, with sustainability at the heart of their business.

Lots of people dream of packing in the rat race and moving to a remote island – Jason and Yvonne actually did it. In late 2018 they moved from London, where they ran a successful consulting company, to the tiny island of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides, drawn by the stunning landscapes and the hope of a better and more sustainable life.

A friendly cup of tea with a local crofter led to them adopting their first lamb – and before they knew it, they had a flock of 13 orphaned lambs and a fledgling artisan slow fashion business. WELAN was born: an ethical, local, sustainable business making handmade woolly hats from their flock’s essential summer haircuts. 

Sustainability, traditional values and locality sit at the heart of the WELAN ethos, and every decision is based on these. They use wool from their own sheep and they make everything from scratch, with love, effort and time.

10% of their profits go to Tiree Made, a fund they’ve set up to help more orphaned lambs as well as to support other people who want to move to their own inspiring life on Tiree. 

WELAN Yvonne Holding Adrian 6166
We constantly analyse every part of the chain, and every aspect of what we do, to have less impact on the world.
Yvonne Lancaster, WELAN

Welan Farm Tiree owners crouched in grass with sheep

Ethical development

Jason and Yvonne realised that every year thousands of fleeces are shipped off Tiree. They wanted to find a way to keep them on the island, reduce the carbon footprint, and make the most of what they have.

They developed a method for making woolly hats that embodies their ethical, local, lasting thinking. They collect the plentiful rainwater to cold wash the newly cut fleece, and air-dry the fleece in the plentiful wind. If they dye the fleece, they don’t use any nasties. They hand spin the batt into a two-ply yarn. They produce only to order.

The WELAN flock of sheep is also less hard on the environment. They discovered that if sheep feed on seaweed, it reduces their methane production by 80%. They also feed the sheep a nutritious mix of garlic and a variety of herbs, massively reducing any need for chemical or medical interventions.

They use the traditional way of shearing sheep, which means there aren’t many waste by-products – and what there are compost down. However, they’re also currently exploring how they could use the by-products to create packaging.   

Looking after the present and the future

Jason and Yvonne are eager to use local produce and support the fragile, remote community of Tiree which is home to around 650 residents.

They’re also keen to help create industry and good jobs on the island. They plan to sustainably scale up by setting up a mini-mill, which should have a lasting impact on the island’s economy and population.

In addition to their own investment in the creation of opportunities within WELAN, they put 10% of our profit into their Tiree Made island fund. 

The fund is intended to enable people and places which:

  • Create island-centric projects that serve as a catalyst for positive change
  • Support people in remote communities
  • Evolves environments for a sustainable future

Skills

Jason and Yvonne hope to create skilled jobs for people already on the island, encouraging them to stay, and to help attract new people to the island.

A major part of what they want to achieve is to create jobs and support the fragile and declining population, with the aim of supporting a thriving economy on the island for both locals and like-minded new people.

They are keen to breathe new life into traditional skills and support traditional methods and values - including shearing, spinning and drying the fleeces.

It’s early days, but with both the mini-mill and the Tiree Made fund, they hope to help more people to have the chance to escape the city and live a more balanced, sustainably lifestyle.

Our Little Flock In The Garden WELAN
You can decide to change your life and make it work – we want to inspire and support others to do the same.
Jason Lancaster, WELAN

Pathfinder Accelerator

Jason and Yvonne took the opportunity as part of our Pathfinder Accelerator programme to develop their unique start up business with expert advice. And, at the same time, link into an network with other entrepreneurial business participants.

Pathfinder Accelerator

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