Dragons’ Den appearance sees sales surge at Midlothian photo frame maker

A Midlothian firm which produces handmade photo frames from old whisky barrels is forecasting a record year after posting a surge in sales.

Kristen Hunter, originally from Minnesota, founded Whisky Frames with her Scottish husband in 2016. Picture: Contributed

Whisky Frames, founded by husband-and-wife team Kristen and Ross Hunter in 2016, has seen annual sales rocket from 200 frames to 20,000 in the last two years.

The Rosewell business, which employs six staff, said it has reaped the benefits of brand awareness after making an appearance on Dragons’ Den in January, although it was not offered investment.

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It anticipates sales will top 35,000 frames this year and has expanded its range, using every part of the barrel to create eight designs which can feature monogrammed rivets, laser engraving, family tartans or Harris Tweed backings.

Each frame, sold online as well as in shops and distilleries including Glenfiddich, Isle of Arran and Bruchladdich, is also numbered so that customers can research the distillery or cooperage from which the barrel originates.

As well as using recycled wood, Whisky Frames recycles waste wood to heat its drying kilns and workshops, and is currently upgrading its facilities to include energy saving measures such as solar panels and biomass heating.

It has received support from Business Gateway Midlothian to streamline production, drive digital strategy development and boost its marketing and branding.

Kristen Hunter said: “We have a great team on board who have really helped drive the business forward and also received so much help from organisations like Business Gateway Midlothian, which has been instrumental in the expansion of our business.

“We realised early on that diversifying the product wasn’t the best plan and we decided then to stick to one product and do it well, which has really paid off for us.”

Ann Marie Macaskill, head of Business Gateway Midlothian, said: “The company ethos is embedded in repurposing and sustainability with the diversification to innovative new products.

“Their growth has demonstrated the markets for this at home and abroad, and we are working closely with the company to achieve their global ambitions.”