By Kristy Dorsey

A Highlands producer of luxury bedding has been awarded patent protection for her cashmere-filled duvet fabric.

Joan Johnston said the award will add significant value to her Ava Innes brand by confirming the uniqueness of the insulating fibre she has developed using cashmere guard, the long outer layer of hair that protects the goat’s soft undercoat. Making up about 60 per cent of the fleece brushed annually from each animal, cashmere guard is usually treated as a by-product because it is too straight for traditional knitting and weaving.

However, Ms Johnston has blended its temperature-regulating qualities with wool to create a fibre that provides a comforting weight of duvet that also automatically adjusts to the user’s body temperature. It is said to be of particular benefit for women who are menopausal.

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“I am thrilled to have been awarded the patent for our natural insulating fill,” she said. “It’s a wonderful product, natural, sustainable, and due to its temperature-regulating qualities, is perfect for bedding.

“I am very proud that we make all of out sustainable, premium products in Scotland and Yorkshire, and in so doing support local jobs within the UK textile industry.”

Originally from Norther Ireland, Ms Johnston has worked for more than 20 years in the textile industry. She moved to the Highlands in 2013 where she worked for Johnstons of Elgin before setting up Ava Innes in 2015 from her home in Moray.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the business has focused on direct-to-consumer online sales. However, it struck a deal earlier this year to supply its products to a major whisky brand for use in its VIP accommodation, and hopes to expand its presence among upmarket accommodation providers.

The Ava Innes range includes cashmere guard duvets, Scottish wool pillows, cashmere accessories and gifts to aid relaxation and sleep.