By Roz Macaskill
When your great-grandfather was a window dresser, maybe it's not so surprising that you excel at creating a welcoming shop display.
Such is the case for Andrea Matheson, owner of Portree and Balmacara shops Home In The Highlands.
"I love doing the displays in the shop and arranging everything," Andrea says. "I only recently discovered my great-grandfather worked as a window dresser. It was quite a profession in the early 1900's and it's really weird that I enjoy that part of shop-keeping so much!"
Andrea's carefully-chosen items appeal to locals and tourists. She says: "There is a lovely selection of tartan throws and cushions in beautiful, muted colours, thistles, stags and Highland cows, and a few local and Scottish-made items - perfect as a souvenir and reminder of your holiday in the Highlands."
The Portree shop, nestled inside the Gladstone Building on Quay Brae, is the sister-shop to the original premises in Balmacara. The two stores provide boutique clothing, quality gifts and everything needed to make a cosy home.
Originally from Yorkshire, Andrea soon fell in love with and made her home in Scotland. One day, some premises came on the market. "My friends said to me: 'You've always said you wanted a shop, go for it!'" laughs Andrea. "So I did! I really don't know what I'm doing, but I love it!"
Making sure her shop offers something unusual is one of Andrea's main aims. "When I'm back in Yorkshire, I go round all the shops there looking for inspiration!" she smiles.
Andrea has found her shops increasingly popular with locals. "I used to get people from Skye coming into the Balmacara shop and asking me to open a similar one on Skye," she says. "I try and keep different items in each shop."
The Portree premises have a section full of homeware items, clothes and accessories by Masai, Cath Kidston, Voyage and Ness, to name a few, plus jewellery and cards.
"I try and keep something in here for everyone," says Andrea. "We have a section for children, for men and for mums and dads."
What is Andrea's favourite aspect of her work? "I love meeting so many people," she admits. "Being able to help choose presents for loved ones or advising someone who needs a second opinion is fantastic. I didn't see a lot of people in my previous work, so having a steady flow of visitors and getting to have a blether with them is great!"
Sourcing items she loves and sharing them with others is the secret to Andrea's success. "I just stock the shop with what I like and hope others do too," she smiles.
To visit Andrea's shops and make your home in the Highlands even more cosy, head to Balmacara between 10-5 from Monday to Saturday or Portree, where the shop is often open late during the summer evenings.