I was fortunate enough to experience a Mill Tour at Johnston’s of Elgin this week. A family run business set up in 1797 with family members still running the business today and an ethos that reflects old-fashioned values with incredible commitment to the future of their raw material producers, staff and customers. Who knew for example that the Company is so committed to their farmers in Inner and Outer Mongolia that they pay the farmers in advance for the cashmere thus ensuring the health and welfare of the goats and the quality of the product.
The Mill Tour takes you through the Home Shop admiring all the Cashmere throws and wonderful fabrics – you are even encouraged to touch! A short video gives you an overview of the Company and look out for the family picture outside the house you are currently sitting in – the original Johnston family home. If you are very lucky you might get to see the Archives with records going back to 1797. All the original Johnston colours are kept here – there are 6500 colours on record and they are still referred back to for matching up today.
A walk through the mill takes you to Cashmere intake – raw cashmere is so lightweight and soft, you then walk through the entire production process, the mixing of Cashmere to make the right colour blend, the spinning, the dyeing, the making up of the fabrics (look carefully and you will recognise a lot of big brand fashion houses that Johnston’s produce for), the cording and production of their scarves, still cut by hand. The Cashmere combing process is performed using real Teasels – no substitution here. There are no seconds it is either perfect or discarded. As you walk through the Mill you will enjoy the grounds, all the buildings are the original factory buildings with their date and purpose signs on them – you are stepping through real live history. Look carefully and you will find a Tibetan Cherry Tree and Indian Pistachio tree – seeds that arrived in cashmere many years ago.
The end of this free tour will leave you in awe of the attention to detail that Johnston’s demonstrate to their product. Fortunately the tour also finishes at their shop, which leaves you free to browse. Men, women, children and household items are all well catered for here – this is the perfect place for something to take home and treasure from your day spent in this part of Moray, it is also the perfect place for fashionable and warm clothing, Christmas and Birthday presents. Depending upon the time of day the busy restaurant is the perfect environment for relaxing after your visit – everything on the menu is local and freshly made on site in the kitchen to the same high Johnston’s standard. Make the time and do the tour.
I need to go now have just seen a lovely scarf in the perfect colour!