Taking that big step to establish any new business can be a daunting task, but it is certainly proving worthwhile for well-known Aberdeen-Angus cattle enthusiasts, Ian and Marjory Davidson, who over the past year have ventured into making prize-winning rosettes and ribbons.

As stockpersons for Robert McNeil for more than 15 years, the prospect of no home and no income was a real challenge when the decision was made to disperse the Kincardine Castle Angus herd, from Auchterarder, two years ago. However, after numerous sleepless nights, life is now better than ever for the Davidsons, who are now working for themselves and their new business – Direct Rosettes (Scotland).

One year on, not only do they have a new home based just outside Muthill, Crieff, but their business has virtually doubled.

“We knew in 2017 that the herd was going to be dispersed and that we would have to find a new job and home, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2018 that we heard Sheila Atkins, from Gargunnock, was looking to retire and sell her Direct Rosettes business,” said Marjory, is a keen seamstress – to such an extent that she made her own wedding dress.

Six months later, with advice from GrowBiz, a local government-funded body offering free business support, training and mentoring, and a few days tutorial with Sheila, and Marjory is now at the forefront of a flourishing business, with Ian helping out when required alongside local tailor, Jill Graham.

A year on and not only is Marjory looking to expand the business further, she is planning world rosette domination!

“Rosette domination is the way forward,” grinned Marjory, who has been working seven days a week either from her workshop base at Glenruthven Mill, Auchterarder, or at home, to get the business up and running.

Ironically, having spent the past 20 years aspiring to win the top rosettes at both local and national agricultural shows and sales, it is Marjory who is now at the forefront of making these ribbons. The couple's contacts from such events has enabled the business to grow, with their first major coup being making all the rosettes for last year's Stirling Bull Sales.

Add to that the agricultural shows that were already on Direct Rosettes’ books and several others attained through word of mouth and last minute orders, and there has been a fair old roar coming out of the machines at Glenruthven Mill.

“We’ve been able to pull in a lot of business by offering sponsorship in the form various rosettes free of charge and through sending out samples of our various types of rosettes to most of the shows and auction companies,” said Marjory.

“We’ve also pulled out all the stops for last minute orders as people had forgotten to order them, which we are hoping will help future sales,” she added.

Such has been the expansion, that the business now makes all the rosettes for several breeds and companies to include the Aberdeen-Angus Society; Blackface Sheep Breeders’ Association; North Country Cheviot Sheep Society; Highland Cattle Society, United Auctions along with prize winning rosettes and sashes for numerous agricultural events.

We’re not just talking about agriculture either, the business has also diversified into making rosettes for equestrian and horticultural events, dog, pigeon, ferret and canary shows, to football clubs and even hen and political parties.

Investing in a hot foil printing press and a digital printer also means they can personalise rosettes and sashes enabling wedding favours, birthday and anniversary gifts and even funeral memorials to be made.

Most orders are for 200-300 rosettes, with first to fifth, champion and reserve winning ribbons, with prices ranging from £1-£12 per rosette, depending on the quality and the size required.

While the business offers two different types of ribbon – standard and premium – there are four different pleatss, including box, Elizabethan, and two knife pleats. All pleating is done in house, by Ian, while Marjory and Jill sew most of pleating to individual rosette templates and glue on all ribbons and centres.

All different sizes of rosettes are available too, from two up to nine tier and with the ribbons able to be foil embossed with any message, rosettes can be made unique and personal.

For example, Marjory has made up individual rosettes for the birth of a new baby to feature the weight, date and time born on the ribbons, to a special wedding anniversary including the date a couple were married and number of years married.

With each rosette hand-sewn and some individual orders of more than 1000, fulfilling such bookings can be a laborious task, but that is when Marjory calls on a couple of local seamstresses to assist in the basic make up of the first to fifth prize rosettes.

Direct Rosettes is a completely different way of working for the Davidsons, being inside all day and away from what they had been brought up with – livestock – but they are enjoying life more than ever and with a few Aberdeen-Angus on the side!

“Life is certainly different compared to what it was. Life is more of a challenge, but it is also better. We have our daughter, Chrissie Davidson and her partner, Glen Thomson’s small Barnsview Aberdeen-Angus herd based just outside Crieff, to help out with should we ever need to get back to the cattle for a while,” concluded Marjory, adding that visitors are always welcome to the workshop in Auchterarder.