YOUR recent publishing of various pieces on Scotland controlling its own immigration makes my letter timely. It’s been suggested that I write to you because your readers and the muscle of your publication might be able to help me make Scotland my home. The truth is that many years ago I tried and didn’t get very far.

My story is tied to a great forefather forcibly removed from the land of his birth during the second wave of Clearances. I do not qualify for an ancestry visa. I’m not dating a Scotsman so a marriage visa is out as well. Do I qualify as a political refugee? Not yet. Do I qualify as a business owner? Nope. How about if I own two businesses based in Edinburgh? Nope.

You won’t know my name but maybe you will know that of my business Thistle & Broom. I created it as a love letter to Scotland’s cultural heritage through products made exclusively within her borders as a sort of Fair Trade on steroids (artisans received 66 per cent of the retail price). I am the designer of the St Andrew’s Cross, adapted and co-creator of the Saltire Gown with Spencer Railton. I have promoted authentic Fair Isle hand-knitting (not by expats on the tiny island but native-born Shetlanders who are now in their late 80s and early 90s) to earn coverage in The Economist. We have customers in over 30 countries and regularly receive emails saying “my grannies’ silver was purchased from Thistle & Broom”.

I have wanted to make Scotland my home since November 2002. I have given of my financial resources and my considerable talents to improve the quality of life for artisans and craftspeople across the breadth and length of this country and drive economic impact from a tourism perspective. I have never taken, nor been offered a pence against these efforts. Thistle & Broom remains entirely self-funded – no bureaucrat within Scottish Enterprise, representatives of any banks or venture capitalists.

I was told that had I put all that money into a Scottish bank and then applied for a resident visa and permission to start a business I might have been fine – but after nearly two years of research and evaluating the market opportunity of 46 million people claiming Scottish ancestry, I decided to launch the company and then figure out the visa thing. I have run my Companies House (and formerly VAT-registered) business remotely and without taking a salary since its launch in 2005.

The collection we offered the night that Gerard Butler appeared in pink cashmere and a leather kilt, which included textiles woven from the isles of Lewis and Mull, Edinburgh and the Borders and was handmade by couturiers scattered across this wonderful country, generated incredible interest in the media because Katie Targett-Adams, Kelly Cooper Barr and Darius and Aria Danesh served as our models.

I have a second Companies House registered business returning to my roots as an international award-winning communications professional which offers online reputation management and digital communications.

BUT, I am also precluded from legally working in the UK and Europe or taking a salary from because I am an American. I arrived back in Edinburgh a week ago and very nearly kissed the tarmac at EDI on disembarking because I was so grateful to be “home”. My visa will not allow me to stay indefinitely as I was in the UK from Christmas 2016 until late February this year. The political situation in the United States makes returning an almost impossible to bear concept.

I hate to admit it, or to ask but the truth is I really could use some help. Oh, by the way, I have five weeks left on my tourist visa for the year.
Teresa Fritschi
Managing director, founding partner Thistle & Broom