Iain Mckellar of Bute has been selling seaweed over the internet for 10 years, and now he has opened a shop on Rothesay’s front.
Just Seaweed is on Argyll Street, where Iain Mckellar sells the edible seaweed on which he has founded a successful online business, as well as offering seaweed ‘tea’ – alongside regular coffee – and spa and bath treatments.
Iain formerly worked as a truck driver throughout England and Scotland, as well as a tanker driver for the old Rothesay Creamery, but redundancy years ago meant he had the chance to take the plunge into a new venture.
He realised that the abundance of seaweed on Bute wasn’t being taken advantage of, and saw an opportunity to sell local produce with a difference.
Years before, his mother had taught him how to collect seaweed, as she had done during World War Two, when it was used in camouflage netting.
So in 2007 with the help of seaweed experts in America, Iain built a business hand-picking different varieties of seaweed from the shores of Bute and selling it online to customers across the world, including in Australia and South Africa, as well as Michelin star restaurants.
Iain harvests about 12 kinds of seaweed on a regular basis, and ships it fresh or dried.
When his former premises started to need repair, he moved his operation into an empty store on Argyll Street last September.
Iain told the Buteman: “I was just processing the seaweed in the back really, and the shop front had been empty for years. Recently I started thinking that I could do something with all the space, and make it a place for people to come and try what we do, so we opened it up again as a shop.”
Thought to be the UK’s only dedicated seaweed shop, Iain hopes it will become a tourist attraction, with visitors trying the different types of seaweed and taking some away with them.
“I said after I was made redundant that if I didn’t take a chance on this seaweed business, I never would,” he said. “Making the website business work has been hard work but it pays for itself now, and hopefully the shop can be a success too in time.”