Established in 1983, Skyeskyns is the sole remaining commercial woolskin tannery in Scotland. Created and developed by Clive and Lydia Hartwell the venture was a dream nurtured for twenty years, ever since Clive first set eyes on the beautiful coastal village of Waternish.
Today, the second generation of the Hartwell family is helping to steer the business through the 21st Century, producing and stocking the highest quality, hand-crafted sheepskins, leather and woollen goods. Skyeskyns has become an immensely popular 5-star visitor attraction, drawing thousands of the visitors who come to the Isle of Skye throughout the year.
Over the last two years, our sales have grown by between 7 and 8 per cent annually and we have recently launched two brand new ventures. Firstly, we opened YURTea & Coffee - a yurt at the tannery/shop selling artisan drinks and the very best local baking. Secondly, and most recently (just last month), we opened a new shop in Portree, selling a range of our products and other local items.
Despite our ambitions to grow sales, we will always remain true to our ethos. Lambskins have always been a by-product of farming in Britain, where we have the highest standards of animal welfare. Skyeskyns works closely with our suppliers to ensure that all our lambskins are ethically sourced from local abattoirs, stopping them from being exported and putting money back into the local economy.
All our raw skins are carefully selected to produce the most beautiful and durable fleeces, rugs and throws. Passionate about working with British farmers and manufacturers, all but a very few products in our range are made in the UK.
Sustainability has long been something on our mind and so we are currently in the process of trialing an exciting new manufacturing approach. We are looking to move our core tanning technique away from the chrome tan and over to veg or mimosa tanning. The reasoning for this is to ensure that our process is completely sustainable and environmentally sound. Ultimately the effluent we produce will be compostable and we can spread it back onto the croft. We're designing a series of reed beds to further treat all the waste water which will also add to our story. Ensuring that our effluent is completely benign will give us the option to expand our on site manufacturing in the future.
We are extremely proud to be a local business, employing local people but selling on an international scale. Contributing, in our own small way, towards the growth of Scotland's rural economy and reputation, as well as wider sustainability, is something we shall continue to thrive on and enjoy as we grow and develop.