“FROM coal beds to needles and thread” is how former geologist Alanna Dale describes her career trajectory, but what might seem a colourful journey from soot-filled mines to sewing machines wasn’t quite the about-turn one might imagine.

It was while Alanna was working as a planning and environmental manager at a surface coal mine in Ayrshire when a lifelong love of design was reinvigorated within her, after noticing Ayr College was accepting new students to study the art of soft furnishings.

Fatefully, these inspirational lessons coincided with a move to the picturesque countryside of South Ayrshire - and it was the practical necessity to create new interiors for her home which fully reignited her early passion to create.

Having taken up geology to escape the mundanity of a desk job, Alanna soon realised she had a gift for needlework – first using leftover material from her new property's renovation to create a unique rugby balls pillow, which was a design inspired by her family’s love for the sport.

“Being a supporter of rugby and with most family members playing the sport, it was a natural instinct to design the cushion with the leftover tweed from our new home. When I was younger, I really wanted to study at art school but, ironically, didn’t think there would be a career at the end of it.

“After taking the course and creating the rugby balls, my husband and I talked about what I really wanted to do with my life – and the idea for Lazy Pheasant was created in 2013. It took a few more years of refining what the business would look like and in 2018 I took the leap of faith and officially launched the brand.”

Lazy Pheasant now have a number of premium stockists for their bespoke products across Scotland, such as Gie It Laldy in Glasgow and Many Thanks in Mauchline, but most business is done primarily though the firm’s website at www.lazypheasant.com, where homemakers with an eye country style can pick an colourful array of handmade goods - ranging from the firm’s famed rugby ball cushions, lambswool throws and attractive purses, all inspired by “lazy country living”.

All entrepreneurs need assistance in starting out, and in 2018 Alanna was fortunate enough to attract the keen business eye of none other than Sir Tom Hunter, and was invited onto his acclaimed West Coast Accelerator scheme. The Hunter Foundation project provides mentorship and offices in Dundonald – and, most importantly for Alanna, the inspirational benefits of a kinetic, enthusiastic atmosphere which is invoked by the fellow Scottish entrepreneurs she works alongside.

“Sir Tom has been so encouraging, I really can’t thank him and everyone on the Accelerator scheme enough. It’s been so good for my confidence to have such an endorsement of the initial Lazy Pheasant concept and it’s deeply inspiring to be surrounded by so many great people. The energy at the Hub is phenomenal.”

Having successfully tested the market and seeing increased potential to expand the Lazy Pheasant brand, Alanna took the decision at the start of this year to scale up the firm and allow for growth.

And, despite the decision coinciding with the Covid-19 pandemic and global economic turbulence, Lazy Pheasant is continuing full steam ahead with its growth plan – in the hope the brand will come out in stronger position then competitors when retail picks up and poised to take full advantage of the anticipated continued demand for buying online.

Alanna concluded: “We are so enthusiastic and excited about the future at Lazy Pheasant – we are now involved designing new collections and sourcing a manufacturer to make the products in Scotland.

“An important part of our brand ethos is trying to source our materials and manufacturing within Britain and using local suppliers whenever possible. We can’t wait to show our loyal customers what’s coming next.”