Leona Rawlinson was delighted to open her ‘Tweedtastic’ shop in Stornoway this summer taking her online business on to the ‘High Street’.
And already the Church Street shop is proving popular – as are Leona’s exclusively designed Harris Tweeds.
“The first roll of my ‘Taihla’ Harris Tweed, a pink and grey shadow check, sold out within ten days,” said Leona. “It was such a great surprise!”
Since designing ‘Taihla’ earlier this year, Leona has not only most recently stocked up on a new roll, but added to Tweedtastic’s exclusive tweeds with a sumptuous deep purple and turquoise check and a second, more intense, pink shadow check.
“I was like a kid in a sweetie shop at the mill when I was asked to design a tweed,” Leona said. “I love designing it, but it also leads to weeks and weeks of nerves – you have all these threads in your hand and an idea in your head but then you have to wait and see once it’s woven if it all turns out as you’d planned.”
The Harris Tweed industry has been a mainstay of Leona’s life since childhood, with her father working at the Mackenzie Mill in Stornoway for over 20 years.
A few years ago Leona began selling Harris Tweed online, building up a dedicated clientele, before taking the next step this summer to secure a stock deal with Carloway Mill and open the Tweedtastic shop at 19 Church Street, Stornoway.
Offering a large variety of different Carloway Mill tweeds for sale by the metre, including the Tweedtastic exclusive designs, Leona’s new endeavour also presents a variety of wares like scarves, cushions, purses, plaids and cloaks, all hand-crafted by Leona; as well as Harris Tweed crafted and inspired gifts from several suppliers, both local and mainland based.
There are gifts for all occasions with a number of homeware items, ornaments, hand-made candles, fine art works by local artists and photographers, jewellery, tweed trinkets, and local music CDs.
“I love making my own products and having the shop also lets me tailor gifts to the customer,” said Leona. “Someone might come in a want a cushion but in a different tweed – give me an hour and they can come back and collect their order, all made-up on the premises.
“A lot of our suppliers are things that aren’t found anywhere else on the islands, so we’ve a lot of products that no one else has and I love to be able to offer something new to my customers.
“And if any local musicians want to drop in their CDs, I’d love to hear from them also.”
And there’s more as the Tweedtastic shop also houses Stornoway Vintage Tweeds, run by Leona’s partner Martin Flett.
Selling new, nearly new, and vintage Harris Tweed jackets, Stornoway Vintage Tweeds offers an unrivalled selection of nearly 200 men’s Harris Tweed jackets – ranging in size from 36 to 58, with larger jackets (sizes 50 to 66) available on order – as well as a number of ladies Harris Tweed jackets and clothing.
“Some people will look down their noses at ‘second hand’ clothing, although most of them will drive second hand cars and live in second hand houses!” said Martin.
“We think of it differently. We are recycling Harris Tweed, the most iconic cloth in the world, and making Harris Tweed more affordable for many people.”
“And we’re particular about only retailing the very best quality and try to secure tailor-made or designer names such as Mario Barutti and Hugo Boss.”
Leona added: “The feedback we’ve had at Tweedtastic has been amazing and so many people have been so supportive. I’m delighted to have the shop open and am looking forward to making even more customers Tweedtastic-ally happy!”