Enterprising Jonty weaves a whole new career

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A former heating engineer who discovered a love for weaving is now selling his handmade shawls to customers around the world.
Jonty Arnot and his wife Cat­riona set up Weaving Home, based in Tarbert, last year and, with support from Business Gateway Argyll and Bute, have steadily grown the business using Facebook as a way to engage with potential and existing customers.
Weaving Home produces hand-woven, unique scarves and shawls using a variety of yarn and colours, taking on commissions from customers from across Scotland and the UK, Bangladesh, America, Italy and Kurdistan.
Jonty said: ‘The business has progressed in a way I didn’t initially
expect, with the response and feedback being so overwhelmingly positive that we have sold a lot more of our shawls and scarves than originally envisaged for the year. We have built up a solid following on Facebook which has helped us get our name out there and connect with customers from all over the world.
‘Business Gateway’s one-to-one advice and workshops, especially the one on internet trading, were extremely helpful and gave us the confidence and the skills to set up an online business, allowing us
to potentially reach anywhere in the world from our home in Tarbert.’
Jonty, who was diagnosed with Parkinson ’s disease 20 years ago, wanted a job that gave him the flexibility to work at home while also managing his illness.
After completing a basic weaving course in Oban, Jonty began experimenting with colours and invested in a new state-of-the-art loom. Now, he is planning on buying a second loom for Catriona to work on, as well as adding smaller products to their range, including multi-media framed art and cards.
Later in the year, they will attend their first trade show in the Scottish Borders with the aim of increasing the number of commissions received.
Jonty added: ‘I find weaving very therapeutic and working from home gives me peace of mind that if any of my symptoms flare up, I can take a rest. I’ve always been creative but now I really get to explore that side of me, playing around with colours and yarns. I’m finding it very enjoyable and when I finish a shawl or scarf, I do have a great sense of achievement.
‘The plan is to get Catriona more involved in the weaving process, which would double our output, as well as opening our workshop to the public during the tourist season. All of this will hopefully help us increase our sales and in particular the amount of commissions we get which would be fantastic for us and our business.’
Donald Melville, a business adviser for Business Gateway, said: ‘By accessing both our expert advisory support and our fully-
funded workshops, Jonty made sure he was best placed to start up his online business by learning new skills and gaining the knowledge needed to succeed.’
To find out more about how Business Gateway can help you set up and develop your own business, call 01546 808363 or visit www.bgateway.com/argyll-and-bute.