The best of Scotland’s business community travelled across the Atlantic to take New York by storm during a four-day trade mission.
Entrepreneurs from 14 innovative companies enjoyed a whirlwind trip – meeting US retailers, showcasing their products and forging transatlantic links during the Tartan Week delegation organised by Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce.
It was an energetic and successful mission with many positive connections made and it ended on a high as delegates enjoyed the amazing experience of marching through Manhattan as part of New York’s world-famous Tartan Day Parade.
“It’s been a long–time dream for me to attend Tartan Week in New York and it was a surreal experience especially being part of the show–stopping Tartan Parade down 6th Avenue,” says delegate Mairead Hume from Harris Tweed Golf Collection.
“Attending Tartan Week opened up exposure of our luxury range of golf products, handmade in Scotland, to a new audience which would not otherwise have been possible.
“We made many new friends and business associates on the trip and through nurturing, we are hoping to manifest new and long–term business prospects.”
There was unprecedented interest in the New York trip, led by Forth Valley Chamber President Lynn Blaikie, which was the first in-person trade mission from Scotland to the USA since the pandemic.
It was organised by Lynn in conjunction with international trade consultant Diana Peralta, of DP Global, and Ian Houston, President of Scottish Business Network Americas.
The mission also linked up with representatives from VisitScotland who were in New York for Tartan Week.
Lynn says: “This is the first time a Scottish Chamber has been to Tartan Weekand early indications are that it was an enormous success which we hope to repeat next year.
“We chose the city due to the strong connections between New York and Scotland and because it was the perfect time to take product and service businesses out there.
“We aimed to bring the best of Scotland across the Atlantic and we achieved that with the range of ambitious and diverse business leaders who joined us from across Scotland.
“Everyone worked so hard to make the most of our first ever in-person trade mission and judging by the buzz, energy and fruitful connections made throughout the week it was a worthwhile experience for everyone.
“We now need to build on that success and ensure our relationship with New York and the US continues to blossom.”
The mission began with an opening event at Glasgow Caledonian New York College where delegates had the chance to display their products alongside the incredible Oscar Marzaroli Art Exhibition.
Further product showcasing took place in VisitScotland’s pop-up Scotland House while networking sessions and business meetings with US retailers were an important feature of the mission.
The group also met fellow Ambassadors for the Scottish business community from Scottish Business Network Americas led by President Ian Houston who was impressed by the hardworking Scots who made the trip.
“This trade mission was comprised of a team that gelled from the start,” he says.
“It promoted goodwill, bridged relationships, deepened and created friendships and sparked momentum.
“It also helped many in NYC see what modern and valued–based Scotland is about through the collective voice of those who made the journey.”
Dr Liz Cameron CBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, praised the Mission and said it illustrates how Scotland is “back open for business.”
She said: “The resounding success of Forth Valley Chamber’s trade mission to the United States has been tremendous and builds on the long-standing economic and cultural ties between Scotland and the US.
“This mission has clearly demonstrated Scotland is back open for business.”
High-profile companies from across Scotland and from a range of sectors made the journey including Forth Valley Chamber members Angels’ Share Glass, Ochil Fudge, Mairead Hume and Amy Britton Harris Tweed Accessories.
Also on board were Courageous Spirits, Love Scottish, Ardgowan Distillery, Quirky Chocolate, Kingdom Scotland, The Drinks Bakery, Story Shop, MadeBrave, Pillow Partners and Positive Qualities.
Scott Lyth, International Sales Manager of Glasgow-based Courageous Spirits, found the mission invaluable and is now in talks to bring their brands – award-winning Glaswegin and King’s Inch Single Malt Whisky – state-side.
He held meetings with key spirits industry figures, local distillers, retailers and bartenders during the trip.
He says: “Coming away and digesting the trade mission I can say we at Courageous Spirits feel the trip was definitely worth it.
“This is down to us now being in talks with a potential partner to import and distribute the portfolio in up to 33 states – along with us getting the chance to speak with a number of people to put the Glaswegin and Kings Inch brands in front of them to start generating brand awareness not just in the US but in other international markets.
“I would encourage anyone thinking about attending a FVCC trade mission to do it. The lead up, the communication and the execution were first class.”
Fergus Aitken, Sales Account Manager of Ochil Fudge in Alloa, described the trip as a “fantastic learning experience.”
He had the chance to speak directly to US retailers and gain vital information which will help him market the fudge in the States.
He says: “It was a brilliant trip and I loved every moment of it.
“It was a fantastic learning experience in terms of finding out about the route to market for our fudge and exactly what we need to do to get it ready to sell in the US.
“Speaking to shop owners and getting little nuggets of information about how we should brand our fudge in the US and what the American consumer wants to know was so helpful and something I could only learn about by being on the mission.
“I also found the trip useful from a personal point of view by making connections with other businesspeople, listening to them and learning from them.”
In addition to networking, those on the mission had the chance to enjoy Tartan Week festivities including a Ceilidh and the Tartan Day Parade led by Grand Marshal Karen Gillan – star of Hollywood blockbusters Jumanji and Guardians of The Galaxy.
Karen Somerville and Helen Kerr, from Bridge of Allan-based Angels’ Share Glass, were delighted to meet Karen Gillan and gift her one of the firm’s signature line of whisky angels.
Mrs Somerville said: “Spending Tartan Week in New York was a dream come true and lifelong ambition for me.
“Meeting Karen Gillan made the whole experience even more memorable and she was delighted to receive one of our whisky angels saying she was pleased to have something to remind her of home.
“The entire week was organised to perfection and Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce did Scotland proud setting the bar high for future missions.
“It really was an empire task of a trade mission and they executed it professionally and with business interests at heart.”
Imogen Russon-Taylor, founder of Scotland’s first fragrance house
Kingdom Scotland was also delighted to be able to gift Karen Gillan one of her products – a bottle of Kingdom Botanica perfume.
It was Imogen’s first trade mission and provided opportunities to present her fragrances to British and Scottish government representatives as well as set up meetings to look at potential partnerships and distribution channels.
She says: “I made some great contacts and so enjoyed learning and being supported by the other Scottish businesses, the Chamber, VisitScotland and Scottish Government representatives on the trip.
“Overall, it was a great start to exploring US opportunities for Scotland’s first fragrance house – Kingdom Scotland!”