“Every little girl plays at making perfume with rose petals and water in a jam jar”, at least that is the childhood memory of soap maker and owner of the Isle of Skye Soap Company Fiona Meiklejohn. Inspired by the natural scents of flowers and herbs, combined with a desire to create aromatherapy products which are kind to sensitive skin, Fiona started her soap business in 2000.
Using pure essential oils to create latea-tree scented soaps, Fiona began by selling her products at craft fairs in Portree. As demand for her soaps grew, Fiona used knowledge from her background in IT to launch an online business and created a website to sell to clients at home and overseas. Within a couple of years the business had grown significantly with boutique retailers across the country selling Isle of Skye Soap Company products and with an international client base which extended across Europe, America and Asia.
Shop in Portree:
In 2002 Fiona opened a shop in Portree and has since continued to expand her range to include a variety of aromatherapy products, lotions, candles and other gift items for the home. Over the years the company has been recognised for their soap, receiving a number of awards including ‘Scottish Gift of the Year’ with Made in Scotland, ‘Best Stand’ at Country Living shows and a nomination for ‘UK Gift of the Year’ with the Gift Association.
Every soap is wrapped by hand and then tied with an individually stamped tag, giving the soap a hand-crafted look which is a key element of the brand. The intention was to create Scottish gifts which presented an image of Scottishness without branding the product in tartan. Fiona says, “We won Scottish gift of the year because we don’t have any tartan on it…we’ve got heather & myrtle soap… it’s very Scottish but it’s not tartan”.
Skye the island:
Being based on the Isle of Skye has been hugely important to the company from the beginning. The island has been inspiring to Fiona, both for it’s natural landscape and and also for the mentality and outlook of the people living there. These are people who often demonstrate a rootedness to the land whilst looking to wider horizons and possibilities. Fiona’s success has also encouraged another local business to start up, the Isle of Skye Candle Company.
On the mainland, Fiona had a corporate, 9 – 5 job but living on Skye gave her the impulse to set up a business which allowed her to be flexible and to follow her passion. 15 years on and Fiona makes up to 20 logs of soap a day at the premises in Portree which produces over 100,000 bars a year. The company has succeeded in creating top quality, hand-crafted products using the finest aromatherapy oils to soothe or invigorate mind and body. With increasing online sales and an ever expanding social media audience, the Isle of Skye Soap Company now has wide international
client base and the online aspect of the business has never been more important.