Seaweed. You can cook with it. You can use it as fertilizer. And now, as the Isle of Skye Paint Company has proved, you can paint with it.
The company's co-owners, Starsky and Carol, say of the seaweed: "We wanted to use an ingredient in our paint that was sustainable and eco-friendly, as well as readily available here on Skye. The seaweed acts as a gelling agent and thickens the paint. It also gives the paint a creamier texture, makes it go further and reduces splattering. No other manufacturers use seaweed in their paint as far as we are aware."
Alasdair "Starsky" Campbell has been working in the painting and decorating business for 25 years and, five years ago, set up his own paint shop, Starsky's Paint Store. Working along with his wife, Carol, he designed a brand new range of paint inspired by their Skye surroundings. Soon afterwards, the couple opened up a brand new shop beside Portree Community Centre. With the relocation came rebranding – Starsky's Paint Store morphed into the Isle of Skye Paint company, taking both its name and its inspiration from the island.
Starsky's shop was formerly based on Lisigarry Place. "We bought the premises by the Community Centre around three years ago," Carol says. "It was an old garage, but we converted it and now it is a beautiful space to work." Starsky adds: "There was a lot of work involved. I was working 15 hour days, maintaining my business and trying to get this place set up. The days were long and it was like watching paint dry!"
The new paint range captures the moods of Skye colours, including Trotternish Heather, Red Cuillin, Kilmuir Thatch and Carol's favourite, Snizort Seathrift. She explains: "It was inspired by the colours of the sea thrift, which grows right outside our house!" All paints are available in Skye Matt, Skye Durable and Skye Satin. Starsky also specialises in exterior masonry paint, which has been especially developed and tested to withstand Skye weather!
Colour boards in the shape of the Isle of Skye allow customers to test the colours against walls and in different lights. The company also stocks paint by Frenchic, Osmo, Johnstone and Farrow and Ball, as well as as a selection of wallpapers.
In February, Starsky and Carol hope to reveal their new website, which will enable them to process online sales. In the meantime, keep a look out on their Facebook page for regular competitions.
Starsky and Carol have combined years of experience along with attention to detail in their new business. They have worked to create a brand that celebrates their island home. Call in to their shop and embrace the magic of Skye colours!