Network ROI sponsored the Local Hero Business Award at the Midlothian and East Lothian Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards.
For the third year running, Network ROI sponsored the Local Hero Business Award at the Midlothian and East Lothian Chamber of Commerce 2016 Business Excellence Awards.
Following the event, I met the Local Business Hero Award Winner and founder of Black and Gold Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil, Louise Elder. I was curious to know what made Louise a local business hero, something that became apparent as soon she welcomed me into her home and made a lovely cup of tea.
Louise is perhaps one of the friendliest people you could ever hope to meet. Her warmth, intelligence, and enthusiasm is nothing short of infectious. A passionate advocate for marketing East Lothian as a world-class food producing region, Louise was instrumental in East Lothian becoming the first food and drink Business Investment District (BID) in the world – a significant achievement.
Louise started her cold pressed rapeseed oil business, Black and Gold in the harvest of 2010, selling her first bottle of oil at Haddington Farmers Market. Within six weeks, Black and Gold oil was being used by the Head Chef at Harvey Nichols in their 4th Floor eatery in Edinburgh. When I asked if she had advice for budding entrepreneurs on how to get such a prestigious brand to take note of their products, her answer was simple – just ask.
East Lothian has gained a lot of momentum in the food and drinks sector recently. There is an exciting movement that consists of local bakeries, dairies, farms, brewers, distilleries, coffee roasters and more who are keen to see their products taken to market under the brand of ‘East Lothian, Scotland’s Food and Drink County.’
Louise spoke about how businesses within the BID pay a small levy to join and also spoke of the benefits to smaller businesses of being part of a larger collective. Working as a collective can bring economies of scale, open the door to joint funding opportunities, can protect margins, spreads the risk – it also provides a local platform for sharing ideas, knowledge, and information.
A key element of the East Lothian Food & Drink BID is a collaboration with Queen Margaret University that gives each member the opportunity to record a podcast and other high-quality marketing collateral that would cost significantly more if produced by a professional agency – a positive outcome for everyone involved.
In her ‘spare’ time, Louise is Chair the Knox Academy Parent Council and represents the Knox community at the local Haddington & Lammermuir Area Partnership and in their Children and Youth subgroup. Louise has also given talks to local community groups such as the Federation of Small Businesses and the Scottish Women’s Institute and can be seen helping Blooming Haddington around the town.
Finally, I asked Louise if she could offer any tips for budding entrepreneurs, to which she replied: follow your gut, don’t be afraid to ask, work hard and don’t let money be your sole motivation – do it for the love of your product.
And with that, Louise furnished me with a bottle of Black & Gold oil, and I made my way back to the office, knowing I had just met a worthy and deserving winner of the Local Business Hero Award.
Black and gold website
Food and Drink East Lothian website
East Lothian, Scotland’s Food and Drink County website