Established in 1983, Skyeskyns, based in Waternish on the beautiful Isle of Skye, is the sole remaining commercial woolskin tannery in Scotland. The family business has recently taken its next step towards a neutral carbon footprint, by introducing, for the first time, skins tanned using mimosa bark.
Skyeskyns is now run by the second generation of the Hartwell family who are helping to steer the business through the 21st Century, producing and stocking the highest quality, hand-crafted sheepskins, leather and woollen goods and adapting the business to fit with the highest possible environmental and sustainability goals.
The two generations of the Hartwell family share a passion for working in and with the landscape and, being mindful of their heritage and legacy, conserving and cherishing both artisan skills and the environment.
The tannery is the very heart of the Skyeskyns business, and the team of highly skilled craftsmen and women have recently taken another step along their journey of ‘treading lightly’ by moving to a new, more sustainable, tanning process which uses mimosa, the tannin extract from the bark of the mimosa tree.
The business ethos is focused not only on producing the best quality sheepskins but also on the principles of nature conservation and sustainable community development and land use. Lambskins have always been a by-product of farming in Britain, where there are the highest standards of animal welfare. Skyeskyns works closely with suppliers to ensure that all lambskins are ethically sourced from local abattoirs, stopping them from being exported and putting money back into the local economy.
Therefore, as the next logical step in the process, and after hugely successful trials, Skyeskyns introduced the mimosa bark to tan all of their sheepskins. An ancient, traditional hand crafted and natural process, mimosa tanning travels into the past to take the business forward into a sustainable future, allowing for the production of the very best quality sheepskins the business has ever produced and cementing the Skyeskyns reputation for quality. Eventually, everything produced within the tanning process will be compostable and spread back onto the Skyeskyns croft, supported, in future, by a series of reed beds.
Jess Hartwell, Marketing Director at Skyeskyns says:
“The skins we tan ourselves at Skyeskyns all come from either our own homebred sheep or from other Scottish sheep farms, minimising travel and using a waste product from the meat industry, and everything we do within the tannery and our entire process has sustainability at its core. We are now so excited to have launched a new to us, albeit very traditional, tanning process which produces incredibly soft, high quality leather in the most environmentally sustainable way possible.
“Our ethos, ever since my dad first started tanning in 1983, is about trying to effect positive change and be the best we can be environmentally and otherwise. This production change is a key step forward in fully achieving our aims and values. When you tie in all our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint, from running an electric vehicle to using recyclable packaging, we are proud of the way in which the business is moving forward both commercially and environmentally.
“We are all delighted to be working with nature in such a low impact and beautiful way. Made by nature, enhanced by Skyeskyns.”