Project helps North Connel skincare company

Moira Newiss of North Connel

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A new Argyll-based skincare company has received support from a business network helping female entrepreneurs based in rural areas.

Moira Newiss, of North Connel, launched SKIRR Skin Ltd earlier this year and has received advice from a project called W-Power established two years ago.

W-Power is part of a European Union programme delivered locally by the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

One part is an online network to help overcome ‘remoteness and rurality’ faced by women-led businesses in sparsely-populated areas.

It has 50-plus member businesses locally which have been working creatively to find new ways of trading during the pandemic.

Moira Newiss found the support from W-Power valuable during lockdown.

It was only this year that she launched her first product – an eco-friendly sports balm that uses zero-waste packaging. The aim is to  prevent chafing and blisters in athletes.

The product was tested out by volunteers in January’s gruelling Tyndrum24 Ultra, a winter trail race.

Moira took part in the W-Power ‘virtual innovation pitching’ competition and won 2,000 Euros towards the launch of the product.

It allowed her to visit Swedish Lapland in November 2019 where she connected with a skincare company and visited other female-led businesses.

Moira also received support from HIE’s Innovate your Business programme. Support included one-to-one advice for developing new products.

Cathy Higginson, W-Power project manager at HIE, said: ‘The online nature of the W-Power network has proved extremely valuable in supporting members such as Moira across Argyll. We are really pleased that it  is playing an important role during this extremely difficult period.’

Moira, a former NHS business manager, is also a trained nutritional therapist. Skirr, an old Scots word, means to ‘glide or move faster’.

She said: ‘W-Power was instrumental in helping me set up my business both with financial support as well as building my confidence and as a result I have made connections with key people that I may not have done otherwise.

‘The support I have received from HIE through Innovate your Business has also been excellent and it helped me get my product ideas and designs off the ground.’