With Autumn well and truly in full swing, we’re gravitating towards all things cosy, so we were thrilled to catch up with Emma Macdonald, founder of The Tartan Blanket Co, creators of beautiful woollen goods. Emma tells us all about how The Tartan Blanket Co came to be and her favourite things about business life!
Introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do
Hi, I’m Emma Macdonald the CEO and Co-founder of The Tartan Blanket Co. We are on a mission to create a better future by sharing warmth and supporting people to care for each other and our planet. From our Edinburgh studio we design sustainable woollen blankets, scarves and gift boxes that give back with our Positive Impact Pledge, where we’re committed to giving back 2 % of all purchases to charity.
Tell us about why you started The Tartan Blanket Co
I used to work in the fashion industry and have a real love for product design and creating something beautiful that people love. However, I really didn’t enjoy a lot of what happens behind the scenes in fashion: both with how they worked with their suppliers and the harm a lot of the materials have on our planet.
So I wanted to set out to create a brand that could have a positive impact on society and our planet. I really wanted to make people feel great when they shopped with us, not just because the product themselves looked and felt amazing and brought warmth to those who received them, but also because they knew that by shopping with us they were contributing to something positive.
What do you love most about what you do?
I can’t possibly choose just one thing, so here is my Top three!
At The Tartan Blanket Co. I love that we create products that bring so much warmth and comfort to people. People have often described receiving one of our blankets or scarves as a hug in a box, which is just the best feedback.
As a CEO I love that I get to work with the most amazingly talented people and bring them together to create something really special. The brand we have created today still blows me away and is so much more than I ever dreamed it could be. Every time we bring out a new collection or I see an image of our products in a magazine or in Liberty or Selfridges, it really is a pinch me moment.
Lastly, the Positive Impact we have through the charities we help or the new ways we are able to make our products more and more sustainable is so rewarding. Hearing the stories of how ours and our customers’ donations has helped is just incredible. We are also in the final stages of our B-Corp Certification which will be one of our greatest achievements to date, as it recognises and holds us accountable to be part of creating a better future for society and our planet.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I don’t think there is such a thing as a typical day as a CEO, but generally my month will consist of; strategy meetings with different teams working on plans for everything from new collections, photoshoots, trade fairs, website changes to new logistics systems. When I am not working with the teams in the business, I will be out at events with other business leaders learning from each other and finding new ways to challenge ourselves to be better leaders and push the business forward.
What do you do to switch off?
I love to go for a run or walk with the dog to switch my brain off and use up any excess energy. I have also recently started doing more strength training which I have really been enjoying as a way to challenge myself and become physically stronger, as I struggle with sitting at a computer too much due to back pain from hypermobility.
What stationery item can you not live without and why?
I really struggle to retain information unless I physically write it down so I am always carrying a notebook for any notetaking emergencies!
Tell us what Martha Brook item is at the top of your wish list right now?
I love trying to be as productive as possible, but I really struggle to stay organised with 3 small kids, a dog and the business, so I think the Life Planner would be a must have right now!
You recently opened up your first physical store in Edinburgh -congratulations! What has been the biggest challenge there in comparison to selling online only?
Thank you! We were so excited to open our first The Tartan Blanket Co shop in our studio in Leith, Edinburgh to showcase the brand and the full range of products. The best thing has been getting to meet so many amazing customers and hear all their brilliant feedback. It also helps us visualise what our collections look like in our wholesale partners stores and improve the experience for them and our customers who shop with them. The biggest challenge has been all the different processes needed, like shop stock management, order processing etc. It has been a bit of a learning curve but so worth it!
If you had to choose a favourite item from the Tartan Blanket Co range, what would it be and why?
I have just bought this scarf from the new collection and it is such a lovely colour combination and the houndstooth weave creates a gorgeous, cosy texture. It is perfect with my navy winter coat so I am sure it will get a lot of wear!
What’s next for The Tartan Blanket Co?
We have just launched into a number of new wholesale partners in the US including Anthropologie with an exclusive collaboration collection which is very exciting! We have also had an amazing reaction from the Australian market this year, who have been loving all our bright colour combinations and we will be doing our first trade show over there next year. So expanding our presence in these markets is going to be key for us next year!
Best bit of advice you would give to someone else looking to start their own business?
I think the main thing is to just start. It’s really easy to put things off until you think it’s perfect, but honestly the quicker you can take action, the quicker you can learn and the quicker you will get better and grow. Also, accepting that you WILL make mistakes along the way, everyone does and that is the only way you learn. So accepting that inevitability early on will give you the strength and resilience to keep going and not be afraid of failure but embrace it.
Do you have a life mantra or favourite saying that you live by?
“Failure is a part of the process. You just learn to pick yourself back up.” ― Michelle Obama
P.S Don’t forget to enter our Martha Brook x The Tartan Blanket Co giveaway to be in with a chance to win one of our personalised 24 Days of Stationery Advent Calendars and a beautiful Tartan Blanket Co lambswool blanket scarf! Giveaway closes Friday 11th November and you can enter here.