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Women  in Hume Sweet Hume knitwear workshop

Hume Sweet Hume

Family business Hume Sweet Hume in Westray, one of the most northerly of the Orkney Islands has been awarded a grant of £30,000 from the Scottish Government’s Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund.

Two women outdoors wearing Hume Sweet Hume knitwear

Support during COVID-19

Sisters Lizza and Jenna Hume started knitwear company in 1998. They had both returned home after completing their degrees and wanted to live and work in Westray doing something they loved. They started by creating knits for the home, cushions and throws, and over the years expanded into clothing which has become their main product range.

The knitwear is created in their workshop in Westray and also in the homes of many outworkers. Occasionally they also have products knitted by a company in Shetland to help meet demand.

“Our aim is to create pieces which will evoke memories of the landscape, heritage and the people or these islands”, says Lizza.

In 2012 Lizza’s daughters also joined the business bringing with them their understanding of social media and all things digital.

COVID-19 has been a very worrying and uncertain time for the family and their business. They had to close both their shops on 23 March along with fellow retailers.

We are grateful for all the help we have received, and we aim to use it wisely. The Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund grant has helped us to plan for the future of our business, our staff and our customers.
Lizza Hume, Hume Sweet Hume

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“In Orkney, as in many places, we await the spring /summer season with excitement and anticipation… we have come through winter and are ready to fly. The 23 of March changed that and the uncertainty that followed was extreme. Doors closed and income stopped. We all scrambled to figure out what we should do, how long we could exist and how we could support our staff.

“This was indeed a very worrying and uncertain time. The trade side of our business immediately shut down. Our trade orders were cancelled, with those already dispatched being returned. This was totally understandable….we were all in the same boat. However, we were left with excess stock of finished garments and yarn. The prospect of little movement in this area impacts greatly on our cash flow as the bills and monthly outgoings continue.”

“If anything, the pandemic has taught us to hold our nerve, make no rash decisions and look at new ideas and remain hopeful."

“We are fortunate to have a lovely customer base and have enjoyed support locally, nationally  and internationally over our 21 years of business. We look forward to this continuing as we move forward.”

The Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund was managed by Scotland’s three enterprise agencies on behalf of Scottish Government. There was a high demand for the fund which received more than 5,000 applications Scotland-wide. Grants totalling almost £20m have been approved by HIE to 372 businesses across the Highlands and Islands.

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Four women from famile business Hume Sweet Hume modelling knitwear in Orkney countryside