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Business group western island women celebrate first meeting

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When Uist business owners Lindsay Robertson and Sharon MacRury worked together this summer, the seeds of a new network of support for local women were sown.

At the time, they didn’t realize what their encounter would entail.Robertson of Long Island Retreats, who hosts influencers to promote his business, has partnered with other local businesses. I was looking for

One of them was MacRury’s party planning business, Island Dreams.

“Let’s get it out now”

“After the visitor left, we both sat down,” recalls Robertson.

After working together again a month later, the two decided to “just put it out there” to see if there would be any interest in broader cooperation between businesswomen on the island.

As a result, a group of women representing “from hoteliers to yoga instructors to photographers to pastry chefs” gathered at Benbecula’s Dark Island Hotel.

In addition to running Long Island Retreats & Larder, Lindsay Robertson also runs her own photography business.

This was the first official meeting of the Western Isles – Women in Business group.

This group aims to share experience and expertise to address some of the issues that arise when doing business in the small scattered islands of the Outer Hebrides.

The first meeting included a presentation from Joanna Peteranna, Highlands and Islands Enterprise Area Manager, Outer Hebrides.

She said, “It was truly amazing to spend time discussing business with such a talented and enthusiastic group of women.”

“You don’t have that network around you”

Because the business is so dispersed, Robertson says, “We don’t always have the same opportunities to come together as we do on the mainland.”

Furthermore, many of the businesses on the island are ‘micro-businesses’, often run by women themselves.

Sharon MacRury is the woman behind the party planning business Island Dreams.

“You don’t have that kind of network around you,” she says.

So it’s no surprise that interest in the Western Isles – Women in Business group has grown rapidly since its launch just two weeks ago.

“Can I go virtual?”

Both Robertson and MacRury are based in Uist, but there is interest from across the island.

“Lewis and Harris contacted me once and said, ‘Can I participate online?'”

In the future, we hope to host online sessions that anyone can attend, as well as island-wide events.

Besides providing an important social hub for local businesswomen, it also has practical benefits.

Founders say it’s more important than ever to work as a team to share business skills and advice.

Joanna Peteranna.

Between recovering from Covid and facing a cost of living crisis, businesses everywhere are struggling.

However, MacRury noted that the remoteness of the Hebrides presents unique challenges.

“We rely on ferries,” she said, noting that the ongoing disruption was a big problem for local business owners.

“CalMac put a big question mark[on local businesses],” she says.

“Many challenges lie ahead for businesses on the island.”

“Press the reset button”

For MacRury, the group is about “hitting the reset button after a tough summer” and “being able to see ahead.”

“Our main purpose is to help people come together and work together so they can be in a stronger position,” she said, adding that the group will be a place to share support, advice and ideas. Offers.

And she hopes that their first meeting will be the beginning of something bigger.

One of the purposes of this meeting was to collect ideas for future meetings. This ranged from inviting speakers from all over Scotland to gin tastings and Christmas parties.

“This is just the starting point,” says Robertson.

“We just want people around the table.

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[Western Isles Women in Business group celebrates first meeting]