Siobhan Mackenzie: Siobhan Mackenzie Limited

The fashion entrepreneur discusses designing for Miss World, using exhibitions to test the market and Prince's Trust support

Name: Siobhan Mackenzie
Company name: Siobhan Mackenzie Limited
Location: Scotland 
Date launched: 30/11/2014

Tell us what your business does:

Bespoke and contemporary kilts. My aim is to bring Scottish dress into the 21st century by breaking the rules of tradition.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

As part of my BA degree I researched into the history behind my Highland roots and my own family name, Mackenzie. I then proceeded to design and manufacture a collection based on my family’s heritage, but added a modern luxury twist.

How did you know there was a market for it?

The demand for my product became apparent through the feedback I had when I showcased my kilts at exhibitions and fashion shows throughout my course; it was just extraordinary and I knew I had to go for it.

What were you doing before starting up?

I was in full time education and graduated with a first class honours degree in Fashion Design and Production.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Eventually, yes. However, I had always imagined I’d work my way up in fashion and then branch out on my own but I spotted a demand in my product and so decided to grab the opportunity.

How did you raise the money?

Initially it was all self-financed, I have always been good at saving so I worked tirelessly until I had the finance to start. Once I had a business to showcase I then got approved for a Prince’s Trust loan.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

It is a bespoke luxury design service; the customer meets with me for a consultation to explore design solutions to create their perfect kilt, jacket or full kilt outfit. By contrasting various tartans, tweeds, velvet, wool and any other fabric desired, I create one-off pieces that are unique to the customer.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

I have found it difficult managing finance, specifically having enough money to do what I ideally want to do with the business. Yes there are plenty of grants out there however there are so many eligibility clauses such as being unemployed for six months in order to get them.

I think there is a lack of support in terms of grants for recent graduates who have a great business idea and who haven’t had years to save enough money to invest in their ideas.

What was your first big breakthrough

I designed and manufactured Miss Scotland’s national costume for Miss World 2014, which was televised worldwide and has given me great coverage as a designer and therefore been beneficial to my business.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Follow your dream and take the risk no matter how afraid you may be. You may not be able to achieve everything you aim to straight away but if you can achieve one thing at a time you will get there. Sometimes growing organically can give you time to learn about business more thoroughly and make mistakes early rather than being overwhelmed later down the line.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

In five years I would like to have stores in Scotland, London and ultimately New York. My aim is to have a ready-to-wear collection for men and women on my e-commerce site and to be stocked in luxury department stores; however I need to be realistic as to what a new business can afford therefore this is all just in the pipeline right now.


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