ENTREPRENEURS have lightbulb moments in the most unexpected places. Just ask Clemence Cocquet.

The businesswoman was on a solo cycle around Iceland’s most remote region when she came up with the idea for Scapa Fest, an annual sustainable living event that takes place on the banks of Loch Fyne.

“It was a very powerful moment,” she says. “I cycled 932km over eight days which was hard, but I also realised how tuned into the environment I was. My body and mind were at peak fitness. Everything came together in that natural environment. When I came home to Glasgow I wanted to find a way to harness that feeling, to share, celebrate and nurture it. That’s how Scapa Fest was born.”

It took Ms Cocquet four years to bring her event to market and this year almost 500 people from as far afield as Oregon and Scandinavia took part in the hands-on workshops and sessions in yoga, outside education and adventure, aimed at helping people find greener, healthier, more creative ways to live.

“We’re a zero-waste festival that helps people harness the power of nature,” adds the 39-year-old, who moved to Scotland from northern France 15 years ago to study at Glasgow School of Art. “When you connect healthcare to planet-care you create a special dynamic that can change people’s lives in different ways.

“Around 60 per cent of our attendees are families with young children. Over three days spent outdoors with nature, they learn creative rather than destructive ways to interact with the planet.”

The 2019 event, held at Ardkinglas Estate in May, saw numbers and revenues double. But developing a green business requires a careful approach, admits Ms Cocquet.

“We have some room to grow in Scotland, probably to around 700 people,” explains the entrepreneur, who lives with her partner and two sons between Glasgow and Mull. “People come to us from all over the world, which is great, but we don’t want them to fly in. We’d like to take the concept to them, especially in locations and communities that have common interests with Scotland.

“I’m currently developing Scapa Fest France 2021 and looking at Finland, too. The vision is to build an ecosystem where Scapa Fest people can share ideas and create their own dynamic.”

Ms Cocquet, who has a branding background but also worked in the NHS as a physiotherapist, says a strong concept is vital to any start-up.

“You have to hone your vision so you have a strong foundation. You need the clarity to be able to pitch to others at every step of the journey.

“And you also have to be open to embracing ideas. Don’t be scared. I see this entrepreneurial mentality on the Scottish islands all the time and I love that aspect of island life.”

She also advises an honest appraisal of skillsets before launch. “I needed to know and understand my weaknesses so I could surround myself with people who could help me build what I wanted,” she adds.

“Be honest with yourself so that you don’t waste time. Bring in people who have the skills you need, rather than trying to learn them yourself. As you accept your weaknesses, you get to know your strengths.”

Joining the RBS Entrepreneur Accelerator scheme was another good decision, says Ms Cocquet, who describes the business landscape in Scotland as “incredible”.

“The scheme has empowered me. Building a business can be very lonely but having regular meetings with my mentors has kept me on my toes in a gentle and nurturing way. They test your business and give invaluable constructive feedback. Every business needs that.”