Hebridean Reeds

James Mackenzie, Hebridean Reeds (photo credit Murdo Macleod)

A Highland Bagpipe chanter reed-maker has launched on the Isle of Lewis following support from Business Gateway (Opens in a new window or downloads a file), Scotland’s national business advisory service.

Hebridean Reeds, based in North Shawbost on the west of the island, produces bagpipe chanter reeds using arundo donax cane grown in plantations in northern Spain to create vibrant and stable reeds with a refined tone.

Each reed is handmade by business owner, James Duncan Mackenzie, who takes great care in each stage of the manufacturing process to ensure consistency in all of his products.

James, a successful competitive piper and professional musician who has toured internationally with critically acclaimed folk band, Breabach, had gradually built up a collection of reed-making tools and equipment after relocating back to his native Isle of Lewis from Glasgow in 2020.

During the pandemic, he began making reeds for himself using basic hand tools and soon realised there was a gap in the market for top-of-the-range bagpipe reeds made in the Hebrides.

Having identified an established consumer base of pipers and instructors on the island, across the UK and around the world, James approached Business Gateway for advice on how to develop his idea into an operational business.

Through Business Gateway’s start-up services, James accessed one-to-one support from a dedicated business adviser, as well as advice on developing a robust business plan.

James also benefitted from grant funding through the Comhairle’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Grant Scheme (CERGS), as well as grant funding through the Outer Hebrides Young Enterprise Support Scheme, which is fully funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and delivered by Business Gateway. This funding was essential to help James purchase additional equipment, as well as converting his workshop space to get the business off the ground.

James has enjoyed ongoing success since launching his business, with customers from across Scotland as well as Australia, New Zealand, United States, Canada and Germany.

James Duncan Mackenzie, owner, Hebridean Reeds, said:

“Business Gateway has been a fantastic support in the run up to launching my business. The funding and advice has been a crucial part of getting Hebridean Reeds to the place it is currently and after only three months of trading, I am looking forward to what the future has in-store for my business. Prominent pipers from across the globe are already playing Hebridean Reeds and the reeds have been played on some of the biggest stages in Scotland, including the OVO Hydro in Glasgow and at performances during Celtic Connections 2023. I’d recommend Business Gateway’s services to anyone looking for support.”  

Fiona Chisholm, Business Gateway adviser, said:

“Hebridean Reeds fill a real gap in the market, and it’s been fantastic to watch the business grow since launching. We were able to support James through a range of our start-up business services, which have helped him get his feet off the ground.”

To find out more about how Business Gateway can help your business, visit the Business Gateway (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) (Opens in a new window or downloads a fiwebsite.