Here we are, the first article of the blog…(worst start to a blog post ever!) ! It was a long time due. Months ago, actually.I was not too sure what to write about to start with. So I was waiting for a magical idea, or for my next escapade to tell you all about it.
But then, something happened. Something that has altered almost everyone’s life, everywhere in the world. What am I talking about? The COVID-19, of course! A tiny thing, invisible to the eye, but damaging in so many ways.
But I think it gives me the best opportunity to actually start this blog, and try to do what Atelier Escapades was mainly created for : promote Scottish craftsmanship and support Scottish businesses and artisans.
As you might know, non-essential businesses had to close in the UK, about two weeks ago now. Many independent shops and artisans are struggling to stay afloat, it will be a long fight for them to cope through and still eventually be able to bounce back when the situation returns to a kind of « normality ».
The good news is that there are multiple ways to support them, as individuals, and as a community, to make sure they are still there when this all ends! 🙂
How to support Scottish businesses
Even though many shops, workshops and places open to the public have temporarily closed their doors, most businesses have kept their online shop fully open. Which allows you to buy their products from the comfort of your sofa! Some shops might take a wee bit longer than usual to process your order. But this is a really good way to keep supporting them and showing your loyalty while staying safely at home.
Buy (gift) vouchers:
Some shops and businesses have put in place voucher systems, which means that even if you do not currently need something from them, you can buy now to spend it later! Do you sometimes struggle to find your loved ones the perfect gift for their birthday, or Christmas? A gift voucher is a great opportunity to get some peace of mind now, while helping your favourite businesses through these strange and insecure times.
Share their work, support them on social media : #supportscottishbusiness
Who has ever bought a product or service because they read an online review? Me, many times. And I am sure most of you as well!
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Trip Advisor, or even Google… whichever you are using, there are lots of platforms where you can share your enthusiasm for someone’s work or products. All it will take from you is a little bit of your time, and a few words from your heart! It might not seem like a lot, but digital presence is more important than ever for any business, even the local ones. So giving them a little extra boost will make wonders for their business, and warm their hearts.
I started to make posts on my own Instagram account using the hashtag #supportscottishbusiness. Feel free to use it to share and promote the businesses you love, or your own.
A few ideas to treat yourself while helping Scottish businesses to keep going
Stay stylish while in quarantine
Is there anything more stylish than a kilt swinging? Not in my opinion! If you want to see what I am talking about, head to Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers and their wonderful team. All their kilts are entirely made by hand in the very heart of Edinburgh’s old town (or safely from the kiltmaker’s home, at the moment). They are a great team of friendly people, dedicated to protect Scottish heritage and to train the new generation of kiltmakers.
To complete your outfit with a handmade leather sporran, or if you fancy amazing quality leather goods, their neighbours, Mackenzie Leather have their workshop waiting for you! Leather bags, briefcases and accessories, their team of passionate craftsmen will do their absolute best to create a piece unique to you that will last a lifetime.
If you would like to get extremely stylish pictures of yourself, or of your products if you are a maker, get in touch with Rose + Julien. This truly talented photographer and model couple have worked with many independent fashion brands including Gordon Nicolson and Mackenzie leather. And no wonder they inspire trust from such companies, as they produce the most high-end professional photographs, using their collective skill set to fit their clients’ needs. If you would like to add a Scottish touch to your living room, they now also offer prints of their landscape photographs.
If you are all about Harris Tweed, our lovely stockist 239 the high street, just down the road in Portobello, has a large selection of Harris Tweed gifts : gloves, bags, homeware, shoes… As the physical shop is temporarily closed, you will not have the pleasure to meet John Paul in person, who would normally entertain you and even maybe make you a cuppa. But you can be sure that your order will be safely shipped to you.
Support the Scottish islands
If like me, you LOVE Scottish islands and their communities, and want to support their businesses, Rhoda Meek from Tiree Tea has launched a wonderful website, Isle20, on which you can find a list of businesses based in the Scottish islands still open for business and needing your support. Tweed weavers, candle makers, cafes, gift shops, artists… these islands are overflowing with creative and passionate people. Here are a few of them that I have visited and met personally.
Rebecca Hutton from Taobh Tuath Tweeds based on Harris. A young independent Harris Tweed weaver keeping the tradition alive, along with being a lovely, talented and humble person.
Yasmin, from Island at the edge, situated in Edinbane on the shores of Loch Freshrnosh, Isle of Skye. Crofters, breeding the native Hebridean, Black Cheviot and North Ronaldsay sheep. They produce their own wool (yarn) and a wide range of bespoke products made from the fleeces of their sheep. They are very passionate about crofting and keeping traditional skills alive.
Mustheb : as a Dijonnaise, I had to try their hebridean mustard when I visited last year… and I must say it’s absolutely delicious!
Isle of Mull cheese : I am still undecided whether my favourite one is their Hebridean blue or their Mull cheddar. So I usually take a bit of both to be on the safe side! 😉
Arladanish farm and Mill shop : Located in the heart of the Isle of Mull, we had the chance to have a private visit of their farm when doing wwooffing on the Island back in 2017. They are the nicest people and we loved their woven products, wool and tweeds, as well as being shown their weaving mill.
Good food for a good mood
Wanting to treat yourself with fine Scottish food, drink or gifts? Cranachan and Crowdie is my absolute favourite place to go! Located on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, they are one of the few shops selling products made in Scotland, such as: shortbreads, honey, tea, Scottish spirits and handmade gifts. It’s very hard to leave the shop with empty hands, as there are so many delicious options to choose from! Beth and her team are the most friendly people, and if you ask them, they will be happy to put together a bespoke hamper to treat someone you love, or get you through the lockdown.
For my fellow French expats feeling a bit nostalgic, or anyone who fancies a good bottle of French wine, paté or sweet biscuits, Fred and Gaëlle from Chez Roger have plenty for you to choose from! Get in touch with them to receive their price list, and they will be happy to arrange a safe pickup or delivery for you until the shop reopens.
Plan your next trip to Scotland
As I am writing, most of us in the world have to stay home and are prevented from visiting their loved ones, or travelling. But when this is all over, Scottish guides and everyone working in the tourism industry will need us more than ever. If you plan to visit Edinburgh, or anywhere in Scotland in the future, and want to be given a wee tour by a wonderful and passionate guide, I can only recommend to get in touch with Sarah Lachhab, who is one of the greatest I have had the chance to work with
I hope this post gave you plenty of ideas to safely shop from home to support local Scottish businesses. Our individual actions can really make a difference, even if it’s just spreading the word! 🙂
Stay safe and take care.