A CREATIVE business, bringing a touch of Scottish luxury to the North-East, has been officially opened by a town’s Mayor.

The Mayor of Darlington, Councillor Cyndi Hughes, has cut the ribbon to open Created By The Ridleys, based in a unit – incorporating a workshop and new retail outlet – in Whessoe Road.

The family business began when Tracy Ridley and her mother-in-law, Sylvia, started sewing, knitting and crocheting gift items in 2014 to sell at local fairs.

Although they had little success at the start, the business grew after Tracy was advised by a fellow-trader to incorporate Harris Tweed into some of her designs.

Tracy’s first efforts with handbags were a sell-out, and she started introducing different gifts to her range of Harris Tweed items. She went on to show her products at national trade fairs, and picked up a number of prestigious orders from retailers.

Although trained in accounts, Tracy always had a passion for sewing, and used it as a stress-reliever when work was getting her down. Once Created by the Ridleys took off, she left her job and started crafting full-time to fulfill the orders that were coming in from all over the UK – including the Outer Hebrides.

Until the pandemic, she was selling her products in Maison Royale, in the Cornmill. But after the shop closed down, she realised that she had no outlets in her home town.

“We were already working from a unit in Whessoe Road, so we decided to open the workroom downstairs as a shop,” explained Tracy. “It’s been all hands on deck from the family and shop manager, Claire Werry, to get it ready in time to open this month.”

Cutting the ribbon at 22 Whessoe Road, the Mayor said: ““It’s really amazing to see what this innovative business is creating. Darlington has a long-established reputation as an ingenious town and this is yet another example of that.

“To take raw materials from Harris and produce items of such quality that products are being sold back to the island is just brilliant.

“I also love the location of the business. The town centre is important ,but it’s also nice to have creative businesses located on the outskirs, making good use of other commercial spaces. I wish Created By The Ridleys every success.”