Crieff-based Anna Malyon runs Coppertop Croft, producing a range
of homeware products such as cushions and stationery with
contemporary designs for the wholesale gift and tourism markets.
Her designs and products – everything from tea towels, aprons and
coasters to cards and bags - are stocked by the National Trust for
Scotland and many independent retailers throughout Scotland.
Anna also sells her products through her own website,
She set up her business last year and heard about community-based enterprise support organisation GrowBiz through social media. She signed up to GrowBiz’s monthly newsletter and then attended a Women’s Enterprise Network event in Highland Perthshire.
It was Anna’s love of design that got her started in business.
She lived in Sweden for a number of years where she fell in love with many of the Scandinavian mid-century ceramics and textiles. On her return to Scotland she studied printmaking and loved the bold graphic style of block printing in particular.
Anna takes up the story: “My creative practice had almost exclusively been painting but I started to think about running my own design-based business. I saw an opportunity to use my printmaking to pursue my love of design and have a more commercial side to my artistic endeavours.
“I wanted to design products that would promote Scotland positively and provide retailers with something different and design-led to offer their customers, be they from home or abroad and in 2018, my husband, Scott, and I worked together on laying the foundations, our first project being the North Coast 500 collection.”
The enterprise journey
Although still very much at the beginning of her enterprise journey, Anna says it has been a productive first year.
“There has been a fair mix of highs and lows and some steep learning curves!” she says, adding, “My experience in retail has helped in terms of sales and customer service and Scott’s IT and business knowledge has helped with the book-keeping and website.
“We now have more product collections, a growing number of lovely stockists as well as our own online shop.”
Anna also has a positive attitude to challenges, commenting: “I am learning that failures are the stepping stones to success!
“We have invested money and time in projects that haven’t worked out the way we expected but have learnt from the experience. There is an element of trial and error required as we test out markets and designs and grow our customer base.”
Anna has had one-to-one support with experienced enterprise facilitators from GrowBiz and has also attended networking events where she has met with other rural business owners.
She says: “These have been so beneficial in many ways. Just knowing you can reach out, ask questions and be guided gives you strength to work through the challenges.
“GrowBiz has been so responsive to my need to get support. I have to wear a lot of different hats so I am learning how important it is to stay on task for each job and prioritise. I can have a load of ideas, tasks and plans spinning around in my head which can slow me down.
“I was feeling overwhelmed with everything and felt the benefit of reaching out almost immediately. Everyone was so friendly and I was able to get one-to-one support in place really quickly.
“Everyone at GrowBiz has a genuine desire to help. They have been able to identify the most pressing areas of support and have given guidance and support over and above what was ever expected.
“There are an amazing number of innovative small businesses in rural locations that could benefit from getting that initial support when starting out.
“GrowBiz also recognises the need for the continuation of support and the importance of facilitation through arranging networking events to bring rural businesses together.
“This encourages shared experience, peer support and collaborations that wouldn’t happen otherwise. It enables businesses to thrive which creates further opportunities for employment and builds resilience and capacity in rural communities.
“I would encourage anyone thinking about setting up their own business to seek advice from the GrowBiz team, attend local networking events, and don’t be afraid to look for support.”
Looking to the future
Anna wants to continue to build the wholesale and retail elements to the business, as well as grow the design side as well.
She is currently working on creating a portfolio of designs that can be part of the website
and available to view by art directors for commission and licence opportunities and says it would be great to get to the point where there is a Coppertop team.
“There are many tasks that I have to take care of that take me away from spending
time on the design process. It’s my hope that someday designing will be the main role for me.
“At the moment, my biggest achievement has to be the days that I manage my time effectively, tick things off the to-do list and still have time for helping with homework, getting dinner on and spending time with the family. When you hit the flow and balance - those days are sweet!”