“LET'S just say working in this line of business isn’t great for the waistline,” laughs Mhairi MacLeod when I suggest helping food and drinks firms build their brand might be an enviable job.

What’s clear is that the 29-year-old and her business partner Alice Will, 31, spotted a tasty gap in the market when they decided to focus their PR agency on the burgeoning food and drink industry.

Five years after setting up, the ambitious young entrepreneurs have built LUX into a successful and innovative business with a turnover of £1.6m, offices in Edinburgh and London and a team of 18. Last year the pair were named Emerging Directors of the Year by the Institute of Directors.

Clients include the likes of Bew Dog, Gaucho, Mackays and Drygate, and the company recently received a major investment from another happy customer, Alex Nicol of Edinburgh Gin, who becomes a non-executive director.

It’s an exciting time for the business partners, who also oversaw the building of a bespoke food production studio in Edinburgh which is used for everything from photography to recipe testing.

But why focus solely on food and drink?

“You wouldn’t go to a dentist to fix your car and vice versa,” says Ms MacLeod, who worked in journalism before moving into digital PR. “Why go to an agency to grow your business when they have no knowledge of the sector?

“As we started to build momentum, very well-respected industry players told us we were mad to go so niche. But for us it’s about creating excellence and we need to be specialised to do that. The success of LUX is testament to that approach.”

Ms Will, who previously worked in the music business, adds that with specialism comes expertise.

“We have a highly trained and skilled team of people that are specific to food and drink and have a depth of knowledge about the industry that is second to none,” she says. “There’s no other PR business in the UK that is entirely devoted to food and drink and can offer that expertise.”

Ms MacLeod says what she enjoys most about running her own business is the opportunity to be an architect of change.

“One example would be working with Zero Waste Scotland to reduce the amount of food that people throw out,” she explains. “We work on campaigns that actually change people’s behaviour for the better.

“I also love all the fun stuff, of course, like coming up with a strapline that people remember. I’ve got into taxis where the driver has talked about something I’ve created without knowing it was me. That’s always a wow moment. It might only be fleeting, but my work has had an effect on their life.”

As for the challenges, Ms Will points to the considerable responsibility that comes with running a growing company.

“When it comes to your own business, every piece of work has to be the best thing you can do. The pressure is constant. Our wants and needs always have to come last, we have a duty to put clients and our team first. I just wish we had more time – there are never enough hours in the day.”

And they have useful advice for others – especially young people – who are thinking of going it alone.

“I once had a conversation with someone who had a good business idea but said they wouldn’t do it until they had £10,000 in the bank - that seems such an arbitrary figure,” says Ms MacLeod. “There needs to be an element of spontaneity. There are probably lots of ‘sensible’ precautions you can take, but being an entrepreneur isn’t actually very 'sensible'. It’s never plain sailing but the small wins will keep you going.”

Her business partner agrees, adding that hard work pays off.

“It’s amazing the number of things Mhairi and I have achieved that we never dreamed of,” Ms Will smiles. “We have a whole new skillset, too. Have belief in yourself and make it happen – you won’t get much sleep, but the rewards are worth it.”