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The brainchild of two Scottish entrepeneurs, dedicated women’s outdoor wear shop, Beinn Nibheis, is set to open its doors later this month in what is widely regarded as the outdoor capital of the UK, Fort William.
Founded by Lochaber native Eilidh Cameron-Sykes and Glasgow artist Alice NicBhatair, its thought that the women-owned store will be the first of its kind in the UK.
The store, located in the Scottish Highlands, aims to get more women outdoors by offering advice and guidance as well as a dedicated range of women’s outdoor wear.
Fluent Gaelic-speakers, Eilidh and Alice were keen to incorporate an element of their heritage into the business, and the store is named in the Gaelic language after the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. As well as a range of women-specific outdoor wear from a number of trusted brands, the store will offer guidance for women with an interest in the outdoors and will also have a woman-owned bike repair service, Bike As You Are, on site.
Most outdoor sports catalogues provide about a 70% male-focused offering and many unisex products are designed for men first
A lifelong outdoor enthusiast herself, co-founder Eilidh saw a gap in the market where dedicated women’s stores were concerned, and a disparity in the availability of women’s outdoor wear compared to men’s. The initially crowdfunded concept secured a business loan as part of a scheme launched after a review found that on average, female-led start-up businesses launch with half the capital of male-led equivalents, funds were used to secure premises, stock and fittings. Eilidh hopes to expand the business in the coming years, with plans for a second site in Aviemore in the Cairngorms, where she plans to begin production of Beinn Nibheis’ own brand of outdoor wear too.
‘We feel the outdoor market for women is really lagging behind,’ Eilidh explains. ‘Most outdoor sports catalogues provide about a 70% male-focused offering and many unisex products are designed for men first. We believe that women being less catered for in the market contributes to many feeling that there isn’t a place for them in the outdoors. We want to break down these barriers and encourage all women to get involved in the outdoors.’
Co-founder Eilidh Cameron-Sykes says women shouldn’t have to compromise on quality when it comes to technical outdoor wear.
Eilidh believes that women are often forced to compromise on quality or function in order to find active and outdoor sportswear that fits their form correctly, and this is something that Beinn Nibheis aims to change. The store’s LGBTQ+ inclusive, women-focussed ethos promises to create a safe space for women and ultimately be a driving force behind other brands expanding their womenswear ranges.
‘We want to see more technical outdoor wear for women that is both high quality and well fitting,’ says Eilidh. ‘There is a myth in the market that women will settle for less in technical-wear, which leaves them with little choice in sports such as ski-mountaineering and mountain biking. The market is still very heavily male-led, but we hope that by providing a female specific space we can encourage brands to improve their female offering.’
The Fort William store will also have a woman-owned bike mechanic concession on site.
Eilidh and team are currently putting the finishing touches to the flagship store in the run-up to its opening in the coming weeks. Beinn Nibheis is set to be a unique addition to Fort William’s high street, catering for beginners and pros alike in an inclusive, friendly environment, with a view to breaking down barriers and encouraging more women to access the outdoors and all its benefits.
Thinking of heading for the Highlands? Check out Alex Metcalfe‘s write-up for BASE on a first winter season living in Scotland here.
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