What inspired you to launch The Ministry of Tartan?
It was half a decade ago when I was at an Remembrance Sunday event. A lot of my friends and family have fought in different regiments and I’m so proud of our armed forces and our history. I was never brave enough to sign up but I wanted to do something that gave back and supported the forces so every time The Ministry of Tartan sells a scarf, a percentage of the sale is donated to the M.O.D Benevolent Fund.
Tell me more about the Fund?
The M.O.D Benevolent Fund goes right across the tri-services and has three areas – army, navy and RAF. It’s where those in the forces can make applications and gain access to funding if they are in need of help.
What has the response from the armed forces been like so far?
It’s been fantastic – they’re so pleased with everything we do and the products are held in high esteem. They love the quality and the sentiment behind the brand – the reason why I picked the scarf as the product was to symbolise all the brave men and women who have put their necks on the line. It is a business, but it is a business with a heart.
Your stock is manufactured in the UK – is this something that you’re particularly passionate about?
The Ministry of Tartan is all about promoting the brave of the UK. We have our Keep Calm and Carry On scarf which is all about maintaining the British stiff upper-lip when you're going through tough times. I’m very proud to do what I do because these are world exclusive tartans and I’m proud to be based in the North East.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I look at the historical or significant colours attached to each regiment. Tartan is the oldest British design since 300 AD and every tartan is a Great British design. It’s not just a scarf – it’s the DNA of our history. I’m proud of all the scarves but I’m particularly fond of the suffragette scarf. If it hadn't been for the suffragettes, I wouldn't have been allowed to be in business.
This month marked 100 years since the end of the First World War. Do you have any products that commemorate this occasion?
We support the services all year around but the Remember Me scarf is the one that celebrates the iconic poppy. If your regiment of choice isn't currently covered by The Ministry of Tartan, the Remember Me scarf covers any person who has ever fought in war. We’ve got more regiments coming on board in 2019.
Where would you like the brand to be in five years time?
To be an established, British brand of worth.
You are from Northumberland originally. What would you say your favourite thing is about the North East?
The people, without a doubt – their attitude, their sense of humour. We’ve had tough times in the North East and nothing keeps us down.