Bonnie Bling’s Bute business boost

Mhairi Mackenzie plans to base manufacturing and distribution of her Bonnie Bling jewellery products at Brandish Bute's shop in East Princes Street in Rothesay.
Mhairi Mackenzie plans to base manufacturing and distribution of her Bonnie Bling jewellery products at Brandish Bute's shop in East Princes Street in Rothesay.

EYE-CATCHING Scottish jewellery with a fan club which now includes Sir Elton John is set to be manufactured on Bute – thanks largely to the success of an online ‘crowdfunding’ campaign.

The Bonnie Bling jewellery, made from acrylic plastic and featuring a host of weel-kent Scottish words and phrases, is the work of Mhairi Mackenzie, a former pupil at Rothesay Academy who has recently moved back to Bute.

Mhairi plans to base her jewellery manufacturing operation in Rothesay, creating two part-time jobs in the process.

The work will be carried out using a brand new laser cutter, paid for by donations to Mhairi’s crowdfunding campaign, in which members of the public were invited to contribute to the cause using social media and other publicity methods.

Sir Elton received a Bonnie Bling gift from Tallia Storm, the Scottish R&B and soul artist who was invited to support the legendary singer-songwriter at his Falkirk Stadium gig earlier this month after handing a demo CD to his partner David Furnish.

Bonnie Bling has also been sported in public by the likes of X Factor contestant Amelia Lily, singer Lana del Rey and TV presenter Laura Whitmore.

Mhairi, meanwhile, has entered into a partnership with Brandish Bute which will see manufacturing based at the marketing organisation’s shop in East Princes Street.

Brandish Bute staff will package and ship Bonnie Bling orders from there, alongside orders for arts and crafts already stocked in the shop, and in return Brandish Bute will receive a commission from sales of Bonnie Bling.

“The crowdfunding campaign lasted for 90 days and we had more than a hundred people contribute to it, online and offline,” Mhairi told The Buteman, “so we now have lots of new people who are part of the Bonnie Bling story, and I’m going to have a party in Glasgow to say thank you to everyone who contributed and to celebrate the milestone.”

Among those who read about the Bonnie Bling crowdfunding campaign were Brandish Bute director Peter Vincent and his wife Tina, who live in Rothesay – and who, as well as deciding to contribute to the cost of the new machine, also invested in the company.

That investment has enabled Mhairi to purchase additional computer equipment for the business and extra supplies of the plastic from which Bonnie Bling items are made – as well as allowing her to take on two part-time staff.

“I’ve wanted to come back to Bute for a while and see what I can do for the island,” Mhairi continued.

“I haven’t been able to work from Bute until now, but what better way to do it than to bring the work with you?

“We had a clothing shoot here last month which started me thinking about moving back here – and now that I’m here, if I can help Brandish Bute in any way, that’s a bonus.”

In fact Mhairi has already lent a hand to Brandish Bute by working behind the scenes to make the marketing company’s web presence much easier to maintain.

To members of the public, the new version of Brandish Bute’s website looks very similar to the old one - but Mhairi, a partner in Glasgow-based graphic and web design studio Mucky Puddle, has made it much easier for Brandish Bute staff and volunteers to maintain the company’s web presence.

“They wanted to make it easier to manage the content and to upload new material,” Mhairi said, “and we’ve been able to make it all very easy to use, which saves a lot on maintenance time.

“The priority was to get something cost-effective up and running where people can shop easily and which integrates much better with social media tools.”

Mhairi’s work on the Brandish Bute site was her last project for Mucky Puddle - she now plans to devote all her business energies to Bonnie Bling.