Each week, we ask small businesses key questions. Here we speak to Ian Rideout, of the Animari Partnership, based in Croy, near Inverness.
How and why did you start in business?
My wife, Ann-Marie, and I have more than 35 years’ experience in the third sector between us.
I began my career in education, before moving into commercial aviation and travel and tourism.
I then saw the light and became embedded in the third sector, holding chief executive and operations director roles in a wide range of charities.
Altruism and corporate social responsibility lie at the core of what we do.”
Ann-Marie started her career in art & design and hospitality & catering, before taking senior roles in retail management, first in the private sector and then in charity retail.
She ran charity shops in remote areas of Scotland, as well as in Kent and Sussex.
In 2018 we decided there was more that we could do to make a difference, so we set up a family-run social enterprise, Animari Partnership.
The idea is very simple – we allow our family, friends and associates to use their own knowledge, skills and experiences to have real social impact.
Altruism and corporate social responsibility lie at the core of what we do, and we go to great lengths to bring values and actions together.
These values form the backbone of our family and working lives, or to put it more accurately our lives’ work.
How did you get to where you are today?
By playing to our strengths – the skills and experience of our team.
We provide a wide range of services, everything from helping charities to grow – this is now a full-time element of our business as we work with Scottish charities large and small to help them to survive, adapt and thrive – to managing land and property, holiday property provision and management, skills learning and development, and event planning management.
We are also into arts and crafts, music and recycling clothes and furniture.
In addition, we supply local outlets and individuals with our delicious cakes and bakes through The Highland House of Baking brand.
Seeking a base
We are currently looking for a base in the Croy-Cawdor area in which to re-establish our tearoom.
Anny Rideout Designs, another of our business brands, has been designing bespoke bags since 2012 and continues to grow its client base in the run-up to Christmas.
Meanwhile, we have added a range of acrylic and watercolour paintings inspired by the Highland landscape.
Who helped you?
We have both learnt much from our previous roles, and from the many people who helped us achieve great outcomes for others. There are too many to mention but they know who they are.
And we would not be where we are today without our immediate family and friends – they are so much a part of our lives.
It is now very much part of our mission to pass on our knowledge, skills and experience to others.
At a practical level, the Federation of Small Businesses has been with us from the outset and is always there with support and help.
What has been your biggest mistake?
Rather than dwelling on mistakes, we focus on the lessons learnt. Mistakes are really just great learning opportunities.
What is your greatest achievement?
Saving and changing lives.
If you were in power in government, what would you change?
I would ensure respect for all life, harness the power of humanity, encourage the young, make kindness a priority and value the truth.
What do you still hope to achieve?
Just to continue our work to make a difference to the lives of others, and to advocate for the poor, vulnerable and marginalised.
What do you do to relax?
Get outdoors – walking, biking or whatever, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about being out in the natural world, although music is a big part of our lives, too.
What are you currently reading, listening to or glued to on TV?
I’m writing a book about my life’s work and sharing my experiences. We both watch Shetland, Angela Black and. of course, Strictly (Come Dancing). Music is always on.
What do you waste your money on?
We live frugally and never waste money. Experience of financial hardship makes one very penny-wise.
How would your friends describe you?
Kind and compassionate.
What would your enemies say about you?
I’ve no idea but if we do have any, God bless them.
What do you drive and dream of driving?
I drive a Nissan Navara, a great, functional vehicle and ideal for rural living.
In terms of a dream drive perhaps a Triumph Roadster, with the roof down on the NC500.