Case Studies

Red Thistle Enterprise Project

Red Thistle Enterprise Project

Mearns Castle High School

Key Facts

The purpose of the project was to raise capital and invest these funds to design and create a unique product to bring to market.

Established by pupils in sixth year of Mearns Castle High School in East Renfrewshire through the Young Enterprise Scotland Company Programme, the Red Thistle company was founded on three ideals; traditional, charitable and environmentally responsible. The project helped the students to develop literacy and numeracy skills, in addition to work-relevant skills including product design & development, negotiation, group decision-making, marketing, and online skills.

The group worked very well together to achieve their aim of producing a marketable product that sold well.

How it developed

The students began issuing shares and hosting raffles and school dances to raise start-up capital. Initially having no idea what product to invest their funds in, they finally agreed on uniquely designed school tartan scarves and needed to secure a supplier to manufacture their product.

A meeting with MD Ian Laird at a parents evening resulted in Red Thistle partnering with Alex Begg to produce their tartan scarves. A designer from Alex Begg worked with the students to refine their design and the scarves swiftly went into production.

Outcomes and what pupils gained

The students made several visits to the factory, gaining an insight into different roles and responsibilities in the factory, the textile production process, packaging of their custom-made tartan scarves and an understanding of manufacturing from design to physical product.

Red Thistle swept the board at the 2015 Young Enterprise Scotland Renfrewshire Company Programme Finals, winning the following prizes: Best Overall Company 2015, Best East Renfrewshire Company, Best Business Presentation, Best Business Report & Interview and Best Display Stand.

Describing the benefits to Alex Begg from being involved in the project, MD Ian Laird explained:

"We were impressed with the enthusiasm of the team at Red Thistle. They had clearly decided that they wanted to sell quality products that were made in Scotland and they undertook market research to make sure they had the right product. Our designers were able to assist them in translating their own ideas into finished products."

Congratulations to Red Thistle on forging a strong collaboration with Alex Begg. It is brilliant to see such a creative YES business that have showcased a truly unique Scottish product.

Geoff Leask, Chief Executive, Young Enterprise Scotland


The products have been highly successful at events both in and out of the school with scarves being sold at a number of retail outlets. Growing popularity of the company secured overseas sales in France and interest in Toronto via their website.

Delighted with the success of their signature product, Red Thistle diversified into selling leather key rings and forget me not boards to cater for spring and summer seasons.


ASDA & Silverburn shopping centre agreed to allow students to sell the scarves on their premises.


Young Enterprise Scotland supported the development and realisation of the project. Alex Begg provided design expertise to assist the students to transform their ideas into a finished product and manufactured the scarves.

Other useful information

The Scottish Textiles Skills Partnership can help your school to engage with Scotland's vibrant and diverse textile, leather and fashion industries. We can assist you with careers information, organising industry visits and work experience, provide resources and advice on developing a textile-based project for your school. For further information and resources please visit or contact Sally Maidment, Education Engagement Coordinator, or call 0141 272 0636.

Contact details

Sally Maidment
Education Engagement Co-ordinator
Scottish Textiles Skills Partnership

Phone: 0141 272 0636


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