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Bothy Stores

Bothy Stores, who design and manufacture inspirational, prefabricated modern cabins, received a £50,000 loan from SIS to facilitate starting up the social enterprise trading arm of the Bothy Project.

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Iain Macelod and Bobby Niven. Image Credits: Brian Sweeney

The story of the Artist Bothy, Bothy Stores’ main product, began back in 2011, when artist Bobby Niven and architect Iain MacLeod teamed up to work on an idea for a remote residency space in the Scottish Highlands. The simple shelter they designed was installed in a traditional woodland area in the Cairngorms National Park. It has since welcomed many artists looking to experience off-grid living in a spectacular and isolated setting.

That initial structure marked the beginning of the Bothy Project – a charitable organisation that operates a network of unique residency spaces created in collaboration with artists, designers and makers.

The customisable Artist Bothy offers a stripped-back shelter that recalls the simplicity and authenticity of traditional mountain bothies. The compact prefabricated cabin is easy to transport and install on any site – instantly introducing a space for creativity, relaxation or exploration that is immersed in its surroundings.

The team at Bothy Stores is also committed to using sustainable, innovative materials and streamlined building techniques to create their products. Fabricated using a digitally manufactured building system, developed in collaboration with BlokBuild, this cabin is a pioneering piece of low-impact architecture designed to enhance the experience of spending time in nature all year round.

In 2017, Bothy Stores approached SIS to explore their funding options to take the organisation to market. Working with their Investment Manager at SIS, Bothy Stores secured a loan of £50,000 for three key actions.

Firstly, they required funding to create the first prototype of the Artist Bothy. Secondly, Bothy Stores required a Sales and Marketing Manager to ensure the successful launch of the product. Lastly, the SIS loan has helped in funding initial operating costs while the business becomes self-sustaining.

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Artist Bothy installed at Balcaskie Estate.

Bothy Stores have made good use of the network of support within the social enterprise and Scottish business network. In addition to working with SIS, they have also worked with a business advisor and Scottish Enterprise, ensuring they can access as much appropriate support as possible.

In addition, the founders have been clever in growing strong partnerships from the beginning. For instance, they have developed relationships with a reliable and capable delivery company, an innovative ground foundation systems manufacturer and stylish accessories brand to ensure simplicity and quality is at the forefront throughout their customers’ journey.

With Bothy Stores being a forward-thinking and constantly innovating social enterprise, the team at SIS look forward to seeing future iterations of the Artist Bothy popping up across Scotland.

 “The SIS loan enabled Bothy Stores to secure grant support from Scottish Enterprise and to construct a prototype of the Artist Bothy. The SIS funding was vital in launching Bothy Stores, providing time and resource to establish the company identity and develop the group structure with parent charity Bothy Project.

The team at SIS have been extremely supportive through the launch process, providing regular discussions and reviews to help us along the way. The understanding of the challenges in the first year of trading and the willingness to assist with overcoming hurdles has been invaluable.”

Bobby Niven, Founder, Bothy Stores

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Artist Bothy installed at Balcaskie Estate.