In the A-Z of successful Highland exports, few would think to round off the list with “zombies.”
But, as Halloween approaches one Inverness company is enjoying its busiest spell to date, meeting demand for gruesome movie-style prosthetics and make-up from customers around the world.
By the time 31 October arrives, Tom Lauten, founder of Nimba Creations, estimates he will have dispatched 2,000-4,000 orders from their small workshop by the Caledonian Canal.
For Tom and his wife Siobhan, the online business was intended as a sideline when they moved from the south of England in 2009 seeking a more sedate lifestyle after careers in the movie industry, including work on blockbusters such as King Kong.
Their original plan to run a mobile snack bar lasted just one summer season as demand for their prosthetics grew, with customers as diverse as companies running casualty treatment courses, film makers and special effects fans.
Tom, originally from Upstate New York, said: “I was working as a supervisor for a large special effects company in London with a 137-mile commute every day.
“I wanted something different, took the voluntary redundancy route and moved up here with a view to selling burgers. We were making and selling the prosthetics from home. There was so much demand the burger selling only lasted one season.
“People want them for every purpose you could imagine and our customers come from all over the world. Antarctica is the only continent we haven’t sold to, so that remains an ambition.
“This is our busiest Halloween season so far and from around half way through September we will have to schedule our work very carefully to make sure everyone gets what they want in time.”
According to Tom, with the success of films such as the Return of the Walking Dead, the zombie-look remains highly popular among his customers, along with a wide range of “wound appliances and rotting stuff.”
“We don’t do the classic witch kind of stuff,” he added.
Tom and Siobhan also produce short video’s showcasing their products and instructing customers how to use them, which have also built up a world-wide following.
In their latest, filmed at Loch Kemp, featuring a hooded, scarred character emerging from the waters, they couple sought to “capture the grandeur of the Highlands, with some Game of Thrones style photography thrown in.”
Their short movies have so far attracted 4.5 million online views and Nimba has amassed 50,000 followers on social media.
Currently “up to their elbows in goop,” the couple will be taking a break after Halloween before continuing to gradually develop their company.
Tom added: “We can work swiftly, but we don’t want the cart to rule the horse, so we are being calculated about how we grow.”