Lewis Mackenzie is on a mission – to harvest the culinary riches of the Minch and to run a diverse, satisfying and year-round business built on the sea.
Unafraid of hard work, Lewis has been building his popular boat charter, Hebrides Fish ‘n’ Trips, at the same time as diving for scallops, cutting seaweed by hand and carrying wildlife surveyors out on carefully planned research trips.
Now he’s seeing success with the latest addition to his portfolio, Hebridean Wildfoods Ltd (HWL) – and it’s taking him into the kitchens of Michelin-starred restaurants and into the company of world-renowned chefs.
Within two hours of opening their booth at NY Now, the largest wholesale trade show in the USA, Essence of Harris were already taking orders.
The Tarbert-based candle company were in New York City in February to share their brand and products with the biggest home and lifestyle buyers in the country, flying the flag for the Isle of Harris and their growing range of hand-poured candles, fragrances, and island-inspired products.
“It’s been such a great journey,” says Jamie McGowan, Managing Director and Co-Founder, who was spreading the word about Essence of Harris in Manhattan alongside Beth Shannon, the company’s Marketing and Communications Manager. “I walk past here and go ‘Gee whiz, that’s our booth! There are our products here in the middle of New York.’”
If you've ever enjoyed a drop of Harris gin, there's a fair chance you've savoured one of the first island flavours distilled by apothecary Amanda Saurin.
Amanda's name is on the tiny bottles of aromatic water, distilled using sugar kelp gathered by wild-food harvester Lewis Mackenzie and ready to be dropped sparingly into the island's own gin. Her connection with Harris started with that aromatic water and with the creation of fragrant apothecary skin products such as hand-wash, bath salts and a weather-defying balm, all made with plants that grow wild in the Outer Hebrides.
But for the whole of six years creating the intoxicating sensory treats, Amanda has been just a regular visitor to Harris. Her business, A S Apothecary, is based in Lewes, in East Sussex, where she distils roses, lavender and other plants grown onan 80-acre organic farm. Even going back to all that, she's suffered many a regretful departure from the shores of Harris.
Tarbert, Inverness, Aberdeen…and now Glasgow. Wednesday October 30th was the latest great day for the rapidly growing Essence of Harris brand as they opened the doors of their latest store in Princes Square in Glasgow.
Company founders Jamie McGowan and Deenie Macleod, along with one of their new employees Caris, were on hand to welcome their first customers from 10am.
Jamie said: “We’re thrilled to be in Glasgow, and proud to have been able to expand the Essence of Harris team with seven new staff members.
Jamie Hepburn MSP, the Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills officially opened the new Loomshed Hebridean Brewery in Tarbert, Harris on Tuesday 27th August.
The opening of the doors to Harris’ first brewery marks the culmination of 18 months of planning, already creating two new local jobs, with more to follow.
After cutting the ribbon, Jamie Hepburn MSP said, “It’s encouraging to see another new business launch in Harris, and the launch of Loomshed serves to reflect the growth and increasing confidence in the local economy.