The Harris Tweed® Journal

International Women’s Day

8th March

Today on International Women’s Day, we would like to proudly introduce four ladies in four key leadership roles in our unique island industry. We believe this is the first time in history that there have been four women in these roles in what has historically been a hugely male dominated industry.

Firstly, our own HTA Chief Executive, Lorna Macaulay. Lorna has been in the post for 15 years and has over that time greatly welcomed seeing many more women enter our industry across all roles. (Left to right) Lorna has been joined by Margaret Ann Macleod, CEO of Harris Tweed Hebrides, Nichola Lockerby, MD of Kenneth Mackenzie Ltd and Carol Graham, Chairperson of the Association of Harris Tweed Weavers.

Harris Tweed International women's day

That said, back as early as 1839, our industry was largely founded upon one woman – Catherine Herbert, better known as the Countess of Dunmore. The Countess used her privilege and contacts to support the then fledgling industry on the Isle of Harris to help locals market and sell their tweeds to her wealthy friends and associates in London. The Countess is also credited for encouraging and supporting two young sisters from the village of Strond in South Harris to travel from the island to the town of Paisley in the west of Scotland, to learn improved weaving techniques from those working in the established Paisley Pattern industry and to bring these skills home to share with other local weavers. The Macleod sisters famously became known as the ‘Paisley Sisters’ and to this day there is a small, characteristically unassuming cairn marking where their home and weaving shed was located. An industry was born!

Lorna said: ‘‘I know that Margaret, Nikki, Carol and I and indeed the many other hugely talented women working with us today all share the single aim of ensuring our Harris Tweed industry is here, busy and buoyant for another 180 years and that it is able then, as it is today, to offer a sustainable high quality source of employment for future generations of young islanders – men and women. Whether your career interest is in design, textiles, finance, law, marketing, engineering, administration or retail, the Harris Tweed industry has exciting roles for everyone.‘’

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