The people behind the business – part 2
Continuing our series introducing the Skyeskyns team, next up is Mike, our guide and sales team manager. Originally from Yorkshire, Mike moved to Skye with his wife Hilary nine years ago this past January. And he has never looked back!
What made you want to move to Skye?
We (as a family) used to holiday a lot on the West Coast of Scotland, mainly the Outer Isles, and enjoyed it thoroughly. When our girls grew up and left home, my wife and I decided it was time for us to move and live and work somewhere else. We opted for Skye, as it seemed to offer more opportunities for us. We bought a house in Waternish, moved in January 2010 and we both started new jobs at Talisker Distillery within two months of arriving.
It was quite brave, moving here in winter, wasn’t it?
(Laughs) It was a horrible winter too and if we’d moved a week earlier, we wouldn’t have been to get out of Yorkshire as it was -15 degrees Celsius and snowing heavily there but we made it!
What did you do before Skyeskyns?
I actually trained in hotel and catering management at college. Then I joined the Fire Service and was in the service for 10 years. I left to go back to catering and work in my parents’ pub, which included a restaurant and hotel. I worked with them for 10 years (my work history seems to work in 10s!) until they retired. I then retrained and took a wine and spirits course which led me to a job with the wine merchant who used to supply my parents’ pub. Again, 10 years there until we moved to Skye. My experience in the spirits trade (the wine merchant was a whisky specialist) probably helped with my getting a job at Talisker where I worked as a lead guide until last year. And now I am here.
What do you enjoy the most about your job at Skyeskyns?
Meeting people. I am a people person, that’s what I have always enjoyed in all my jobs. Meeting new people, building a rapport, guiding them and helping them. I’m good at talking to anyone, which this job is all about.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
I like fishing, walking, cycling and travelling, as well as gardening. Our garden was built by a lady who worked at Skyeskyns until she sold us her house. We actually found some old Skyeskyns tannery tour notes when we moved into the house.
What are you looking forward to in 2019?
Professionally, I am looking forward to our new Portree shop opening, it will be an interesting challenge and addition and to the business.
On a personal level, this year, Hilary and I will be travelling to Dubai (where one of our daughters lives), Croatia and Australia. Croatia will be a swimming holiday, which is more Hilary’s thing than mine, as she does wild swimming on Skye. But at least the water will be warmer than up here! Australia will be a bit of an adventure and road trip, travelling along the Eastern side of the country for one month, starting in Sydney. Can’t wait!