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Definition of Scottish-ness

Visitors’ requests lead Scotland’s Trade Fairs to open social media debate

 

What are Scottish gifts? That’s what Scotland’s Trade Fairs has been trying to discover through social media posts after visitors to the trade shows emphasised their wish for more of them.

Asking if they mean products made in the country, by a Scottish person, products with tartan, or Highland cow mugs and stag portraits, show organiser Springboard Events has had a range of replies on Facebook from people who attend the spring and autumn fairs in Glasgow.

“Made in Scotland preferably with a Scottish theme or Scottish twist – doesn’t have to be all tartan and highland coos,” was the comment from Eleanor Barron, of Elba Artisan Gallery in Milngavie, which showcases the work of around 100 Scottish artists.

Above: Scotland’s Trade Fairs got the debate going on social media
Above: Scotland’s Trade Fairs got the debate going on social media

Lisa Arnott, who runs Aden’s SilverHub Jewellery School & Studios, said: “Made in Scotland by local craft artists who are resident in Scotland and produce their goods in Scotland. Who show a high level of creativity, craftsmanship, quality, skill and uniqueness.”

Candy Coated Accessories owner Fiona Ross, who sells her own lambswool items online from her base in north-east Scotland, stretched the definition slightly: “Ideally more products made by a Scottish person in Scotland, but I know that’s not always possible. Traditional Scottish gifts have their place, but they’d be better if they were made in the UK as opposed to elsewhere. The more Scottish and UK-made products the better.”

“It means made in Scotland, simple as!” was the succinct comment from Nottingham-based Emma Ball, who has a deep affinity with Scotland and regularly exhibits at the Glasgow events with her greeting cards and gifts featuring her hand-painted original artwork including 13 different Scots regions and subjects.

Scottish artist Zoe Scott added: “Made in Scotland but also something that people can take to friends overseas that represents modern Scotland. Playful twists on Scottish classics.”

It’s products that are designed and made in Scotland, for Dunblane-based glass artist Elin Isaksson: “Many are designed here, but made overseas and then branded as Scottish which is confusing for customers. Hence quality-crafted gifts that are made here are seemed as too expensive. Why are so many focused on coos, thistles and stags? It’s beyond me, seems very narrow minded and money-focused.”

Above: Emma Ball has a Scots flavour to many of her regional cards
Above: Emma Ball has a Scots flavour to many of her regional cards

With many comments on similar lines, Scotland’s Trade Fairs followed up with a second post: “Huge response! It was made abundantly clear that Made In Scotland is what constitutes a Scottish product – but now that begs the question, what does Made In Scotland actually mean?”

Ian and Ellen at Gamries Candles & Cards, in Garmond, which incorporates 100% Handmade Cards, spoke for the vast majority of respondents with the comment: “Made in Scotland from scratch, not something just put together almost like a ready-made kit.”

But Darlington-based exhibitor Tracy Ridley, who runs Created By The Ridleys making many gifts using scraps of definitely Scottish Harris Tweed, raised the burning issue: “If everyone wants only made in Scotland products, are 98% of us non-Scottish traders wasting our time and money in exhibiting?

“If the show is to be only open to people who live, design and make their products in Scotland then I’m afraid there wouldn’t be enough to put on a show and Scotland’s Trade Fair would cease to exist.”

Scotland’s Trade Fairs, where the show director is Mark Saunders, responded: “Glad you commented on this as it’s really important to emphasise that we are using our socials to start conversations. You’re right, our visitors are looking for products from across the UK – but there will always be a special interest in Scottish products, being Scotland’s Trade Fair it’s our USP.”

Above: Handmade in Scotland cards from Gamries Candles & Cards
Above: Handmade in Scotland cards from Gamries Candles & Cards

And Candy Coated’s Fiona backed that up: “The most important thing above all else is the quality of the product. Made In Scotland/Made In Britain is ideal but, really, what’s important is how it’s made, where do the components come from, is it from a business who have ethics behind them, a passion for what they do, etc.

“Let’s just have a show full of fantastic companies, with a focus on Made In Britain and Made In Scotland, but not overlook someone who perhaps doesn’t fall into these categories but has a wonderful good-quality product. I think visitors want a good diverse show with a good mix of products.”

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