Iona jewellery business set to expand into international markets following Business Gateway support

Mhairi Killin (Aosdana)

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A JEWELLERY design and manufacturing business is successfully developing its online presence and is set to expand into international markets after receiving advice, support, and signposting to funding from Business Gateway.  

Based on the Isle of Iona, Aosdàna designs and manufactures contemporary jewellery with a Celtic influence. Business owner, Mhairi Killin, founded Aosdàna in 2003, and regularly collaborates with a range of external designers, creatives, and institutes on a variety of projects which often involve new techniques and innovations.  

Having operated successfully for almost two decades, most of Aosdàna’s sales were generated from its gallery on the island, where some of the jewellery ranges are also designed and made. However, like many other small businesses, pandemic closures and subsequent travel restrictions meant the main source of income for Mhairi dwindled.  

During this time, however, Mhairi, together with award-winning jewellery designer Maeve Gillies, won an Innovate UK award to develop a range of jewellery based on the heritage of original Iona silversmiths, the Ritchies. The Ritchies were a husband-and-wife team who founded the tradition of crafting Celtic jewellery and silversmithing on the island.  

Mhairi approached Business Gateway for support and guidance on how to reach a wider audience and generate global sales for the new range, the Kist o’ Ritchies. 

Through Business Gateway, Mhairi received 1:1 support from a dedicated business adviser, as well as advice on funding, a strategic review of her business, and signposting to a wider network. With this guidance, Mhairi was able to develop a plan to lessen the dependence on her physical shop and increase her online presence.  

Support from Business Gateway led to Mhairi receiving a Small Business Development Grant from Argyll and Bute Council. This funding has been essential for professional product photography, which will help get the new range online as soon as possible. The product imagery will feature online and on social media.  

Mhairi Killin, Founder, Aosdàna, said: “Support from Business Gateway has been so beneficial. Not only has their assistance helped me re-evaluate my business strategy, but it has also allowed me to invest in strong product photography for my website, which will help me greatly when launching into international markets later this year. I can’t thank Business Gateway enough for their ongoing support.” 

The Kist o’ Ritchies collection utilises the latest manufacturing technology to navigate the lack of metalworking skills on the island. Featuring 3D scanning, CAD and 3D printed prototyping to help preserve the key historical designs from the 19th and 20thcenturies. The modern jewellery range will launch in Spring 2023 and is expected to attract international markets including the USA and Canada. 

Angela Vernel, Business Gateway Adviser, said: “It’s been fantastic to watch Mhairi and Maeve develop such an innovative jewellery collection. I’m pleased that we have been able to support her through this exciting new stage of her business and am sure the new collection will prove extremely popular with customers from all over the world.”  

To find out more about how Business Gateway could help your business, please visit https://www.bgateway.com.         

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