Clootie Dumpling shop

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Kirsteen Oliver, owner of online Clootie Dumpling shop and farmers' market stall, Granny Beaton's, talks to us about starting her own business as a stay-at home mum and how the Business & IP Centre at The Mitchell Library helped her achieve her goals.

Kirsteen Oliver, owner of Granny Beaton's

I studied Hospitality Management at Queen’s College, Glasgow (the ‘Dough School’). On qualifying I worked in restaurant management positions in London and Manchester before returning to Glasgow in 1989. I was employed by the Department of Residential, Catering and Business Services at the University of Glasgow as a Manager in Reith Hall of Residence. In 1995 I left to take up a position with the Scottish Prison Service as Facilities Manager at their residential training college in Falkirk and worked there until having my first child in 2005. I returned on a part-time basis, then after my second child was born in 2007 I took a 5 year career break and did not return.

What inspired you to start your own business?

Whilst on the career break, I started to think about self-employment and what I could do from home, which would fit around a young family. I’ve always enjoyed cooking/baking and this was feasible from a home kitchen, without huge risk or financial outlay. I didn’t want a full time commitment so started looking into what was involved in being a stallholder at a farmer’s market.

Farmers markets run at weekends so childcare was easy as my husband worked Monday to Friday. I started to attend Business Gateway’s, Women into Business events. Via Business Gateway I was successful in obtaining a small grant which I used to test out a range of products and establish what I was going to sell. After a Food Hygiene Report from Environmental Services, Glasgow City Council and Public Liability Insurance I was ready to go. I set up my first stall in June 2009 at Milngavie Farmer’s market, trading as Queen of Hearts, Cakes and Tarts selling a range of home baking.

Tell us a little bit about your business

I run the business as a sole trader. Over the years I’ve attended farmers markets around Glasgow and events such as Gibson Street Gala, West End Festival, Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity 10k Walk and Family Fun Day and ‘pop ups’. One of the best sellers on the stall is Clootie Dumpling. I use my granny's recipe - hence the new business name of Granny Beaton's. I thought if I could sell Clootie Dumpling online that would provide a new income stream from the comfort of home. It’s more reliable and organised, as orders are placed online and Clootie Dumplings are made to order.

Business & IP Centre

How did you hear about BIPC @ The Mitchell?

Women Into Business (WIB) events in Glasgow.

What steps did you take to get involved with the BIPC?

I spoke to the Partnership and Outreach Manager, Ruth who attended the WIB events and she explained the services BIPC had to offer. I then visited the BIPC, borrowed some business text books and enquired about the one to one sessions. I then contacted the BIPC Information Officer, Iain and arranged a one to one session.

What resources have you used at BIPC?

I contacted Business at the Mitchell (as it was then known) about 3 years ago, when I was enquiring about applying for a trademark for Granny Beaton’s. I had a bad experience a few years before, with my old business name. A company in America saw my business name on Facebook, contacted Facebook to say I was breaching their International Copyright, resulting in my Facebook page being closed down. I contacted Facebook, who advised me they would not reinstate until the complainer confirmed all had been resolved. I was advised to engage my own solicitor. I didn’t pursue it, just set up a new Facebook Page. I wanted to be sure I could use the name Granny Beaton’s before I changed the business name and set up a website. From the information and advice provided from Business at the Mitchell, I applied for a trademark from the Intellectual Property Office, awarded in May 2016. I plan to access more resources in the future.

Have you attended any events or one-to-ones at BIPC?

I’ve met with the Information Officer, Iain a few times who has explained the online resources I could access from home and those I could access from the Mitchell Library. I also attended the Inspiring Entrepreneurs live screening on 21 May 2019 – Recipe For Success.

I did enquire to attend the Entrepreneur in Residence sessions a few months ago, however they were fully booked.

How did BIPC help you start and/or grow your business?

Until I decided to embark on a website I was used to producing food, turning up at a market, selling the food, banking the money, job done! The preparation of the information necessary to populate the website was a huge task and all new territory for me. One of the sections of which I knew absolutely nothing about was GDPR. I was required to provide a Privacy Policy, along with Terms and Conditions of Sale for my website. I had no idea where to start, emailed Iain and he provided me with COBRA guides to:

  1. Guide to GDPR
  2. Legal Requirements for Business Websites
  3. Legal Requirements for Selling Goods Online

These were very helpful and also provide links to other information sources.

What have you achieved by using the BIPC?

BIPC highlighted the Aye Write! Festival and I attended two author events this year– Gabriella Bennett, The Art of Coorie and Peter Irvine, Scotland The Best. They were very interesting and provided good background, a wider perspective to Scottish food and a better understanding of the appeal of Scotland as a whole.

Working on my own, I sometimes get stuck in a rut and lack inspiration. It’s great to know there’s a resource that I can pop into at any time and ask for support. I used the Mitchell Library a lot when collating the information for my website, not just the BIPC, but to find the oldest Clootie Dumpling recipe and to look for an article relating to my Granny Beaton. The staff in the Glasgow Room, Archives and general library were so helpful and interested in what I was doing, I said I would bring in a Clootie Dumpling once the website was complete! I tagged the Mitchell Library in a Facebook post and they commented asking to sample some dumpling! I have still to do that!

I think now the website is complete, it would be worthwhile to revisit BIPC to see what resources I can utilise to promote the website.

The Future

What are your business goals for the next 2 years?

  • To develop the website
  • To make better use of social media
  • To establish links with local Scottish food networks and organisations
  • To expand the range of products available online.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about starting their own business but doesn’t know where to begin?

  • Talk to people, don’t think you have to do it all on your own, there are lots of organisations who can help
  • Business Gateway, attend events, network
  • BIPC – information and support
  • Market research
  • Unique Selling Point – what will make your business stand out from the rest?
  • Start off small, in your comfort zone, with what you know
  • Don’t be put off by fear of failure. Make mistakes. That’s how we learn

Find out more about Granny Beaton’s at