International and local...Ragamuffin's world 

With their signature colourful knitwear and relaxed, natural clothing, Ragamuffin have been delighting locals and visitors to their store in Armadale, on Sleat, for nearly 40 years.  

Whilst owner Lesley Robertson once used to make everything herself on Skye, these days you are just as likely to find a hand-pintucked Japanese shirt or a beautiful Indian Kantha-work jacket amongst the Scottish Fair Isle and Icelandic style knits.  

"We pride ourselves on looking forward and evolving the collection year on year," explains Lesley, "I'm interested in textiles and influenced by design techniques from all over the world and the shop reflects that." 

Alongside Scottish and Irish knitwear and accessories, Ragamuffin stocks clothes from all over Europe, America, Japan and India. "We try to buy what other countries do best, Californians do effortless casual separates so well, we have chic timeless coats from Paris, hand-appliquéd dresses from Łódź - the textile capital of Poland - and intricate textiles from India's Jaipur region.  

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Broad views of sky and sea…

By Roz Skinner

What normally attracts you to a hotel?  Vanessa McPhail, co-owner of Broadford's Hebridean Hotel, says that guests often come to her for quite an unusual reason – the view from their car park!

"Our car park is one of the few places in Broadford where you can park near the water," she explains.  "We have even seen otters visit the car park!

“We also get beautiful sunsets that streak across the Cuillins and sometimes we see shooting stars or the Aurora Borealis. "  Sea views are also available from part of the dining area and many of the rooms.

Vanessa, who has been holidaying on the island since she was five years old, took over the Hebridean Hotel in 2013.  Along with her husband, Geoff, they run a cosy, family-orientated hotel.

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Lights! More lights! And action!

By Roz Skinner

Lisa Nisbett, who took over the Isle of Skye Lighting Company in February 2017, has plenty of action planned for the Kyleakin-based shop.

Part of that action involves a brand new consultation service.  Says New Zealand born Lisa: "We won't just be a lighting store where customers come to us.  I have begun offering a free consulting service for anyone building a new home or renovating their existing property.  I will come to you so I can get an understanding of what you would like to achieve, and together we can create a lighting plan for your home.  I am happy to help commercial property owners too."

Along with the new management, the shop has a brand new name and identity: Handley & Co.  Lisa's dream was to supply customers with homeware, gifts, scented candles, cushions, throws and upcycled furniture.  

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Fiona…a life amid the science and scents of soap

By Roz Skinner

What do whisky, seaweed and nettles have in common?

They are all ingredients in the beautiful soaps lovingly handcrafted by Fiona Meiklejohn, founder of the Isle of Skye Soap Company.

Fiona's shop, tucked in at the northeast corner  of Somerled Square, Portree, opened in 2001 and is crammed full of scented soaps, bath bombs and gifts.

Fiona remembers creating soap during her high school years and although she went on to work in IT, her love of crafts and chemistry never left her.  Her soap-making skills resurfaced when she became a mother as she sought a purely natural product – one that would be soothing for her children, who suffered from eczema and asthma.

“My son had especially bad asthma and I found that the less chemicals we used, the better,” explains Fiona.  “I began to look into aromatherapy and discover what plants and herbs worked best to soothe the skin.  I started selling the soap at craft fairs and the business took off.”

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Tea-time in a yurt…at Skyeskyns

By Roz Skinner

Locals and visitors to Waternish will soon be seeing something unexpected – the addition of a 24 foot yurt in the grounds of Skyeskyns.

The company, famed for its luxury sheepskins, will use the yurt as a pop-up tea tent.  General Manager, Dave Till, explains: “We wanted something in keeping with Skyeskyns – something a bit quirky.  The yurt tea room will be open April-October and will serve teas, coffees and home baking.  Visitors can relax by the stove, take in our spectacular views and sample our Highland produce from the comfort of a sheepskin-clad chair!”

The past year saw Skyeskyns add a new storage facility, which means they have a dedicated space for storage and packing.  “We really felt the benefits over the Christmas rush.  It has made everything easier and Pete and Becky, our tanners, are delighted with the extra space for their raw materials too,” remarks Dave.

“Skyeskyns has been producing Highland sheepskins since 1983.  The skins are obtained as a by-product of the meat industry and are usually sourced from Dingwall.  After being stacked in the store, they are given an afternoon and an overnight soak to remove excess salts.”

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