SHE is the business graduate who wasn’t afraid of hard work. And now her commitment has paid off as she has risen through the ranks to become the first female boss of a Borders country clothing store.

Established more than 90 years ago, A Hume is part of the fabric of Kelso life and is a tradition in the town with loyal customers.

However, in an ever-changing world, the country clothing firm has had to adapt and never more so than this year.

Leading its transformation and online expansion, is 29-year-old Rachel Thomson who has taken over as managing director.

Read more: Bullied and taunted for the way they looked: brave youngsters speak out to make a difference

And she has not hung about in taking the business forward with the recent launch of its first catalogue and digital expansion.

The country wear independent was bought by the Nuttall family earlier this year. They also own shares in Hawick-based knitwear producer William Lockie where Mrs Thomson’s father David Nuttall is the managing director.

“Dad always said it was a business he would love to buy and when the opportunity came up, he said it would be me that was going to run it,” said Mrs Thomson. “That was quite scary. I did think to myself how on earth am I going to be able to do that. It’s been a massive learning curve since I joined nine months ago.

“I felt under a huge amount of pressure but I was hugely excited. It was far more appealing than being just involved in manufacturing which is where I had been for many years. It was daunting as I am so young. I know manufacturing inside out, I didn’t know retail, but I am learning and here I am now.”

She was the brains behind the retailer's first ever catalogue which went to print last month and has been well received, particularly amongst the younger clientele.

Read more: Chaotic Scot Travel blogger hit by covid restrictions brings scents and aromas of Scotland to life

“I am very keen to keep the core values of A Hume but at the same time grow. We have had really positive feedback about the catalogue," added Mrs Thomson. "Nobody in the country clothing game has produced a catalogue like this. I wanted to give it that coffee table feel which people would want in their homes. I might not have the long-established connection with A Hume but I do have that same passion for quality manufacturing, the Scottish Borders countryside, lifestyle and its people which is what A Hume stands for.”

A Hume was founded by Archie Hume’s grandfather, Arch in 1929. Archie took the reigns in 1987 and continues as the face of the business. His wife Karen, who is credited for successfully growing the retailer’s online platform, retired last month.

Born and bred in Hawick, Mrs Thomson spent four years at Edinburgh University studying psychology. With a desire to earn money and to afford to buy a car, she approached her dad to ask if there was any jobs at the mill.

Mrs Thomson added: “Dad warned me it would be hard work. I didn’t care as I had been a student for so long I really wanted to start earning. It was 7am starts in the yarn store hoisting yarn around. I did this for two and half years, learning every single job in the factory.

“I then moved into the office which was meant to be a sales role but it was such a male dominated area. It still is. There are hardly any women in this industry in the Scottish Borders. I could see we weren’t doing any marketing at all, so I kind of carved a role in that department doing more social media, a catalogue and started to build relationships of my own.

“My father was the best teacher. The way he’s adapted over the years, his openness to change. He allowed me to modernise the brand, opening up into younger and more appealing markets. It was around this time I also met my business mentor, Phil Morris.

“Phil and I met in the gym a few months before and it was only when I went to a business seminar about business growth that I realised he was the person that was doing the talk about ‘growing your business’. It was quite funny actually. He has helped me grow and helped us grow our business. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be where I am.”

In just a few short months the business is already seeing gains despite being in the middle of a pandemic.

Mrs Thomson, who is married to former Melrose rugby captain now Gala head coach Fraser, added: “In October we were up 65% online on last year and we have big plans including a European website. We hope this will lead to employment growth in the Scottish Borders.

“We also plan to increase digital training for our staff, allowing them to thrive and grow and get experience that is difficult to get in the local area without going to the cities. We also plan to add new quality country clothing brands to our collection. We want to be the go to for country lifestyle. I would also love to dive into country home wear and have a home store.”