Scottish female entrepreneurs reimagine the high street



A group of Scottish female entrepreneurs will shine a light on ‘the future of the High Street’ when they take up residence within Edinburgh’s newest, prestigious retail destination.

Paul Mitchell (chief operating officer, Sook Spaces), Kirstin Strachan, Angie De Vos and Jen McAlinden

Almost twenty businesses supported by Women’s Business Station will set up shop within the Sook unit of St James Quarter from 10am until 5pm, Monday 23 August until Sunday 5 September 2021.

Simon Gallacher, creative director, Sook Spaces, added: “Sook Spaces give national brands meaningful ways to connect with local communities and provide local companies with affordable access to their high streets. Sook’s hourly rental model and adaptable solution offers optimised pop-up space and the only available stepping-stone between a pop-up and a full-time commercial lease that is out of reach for many businesses. We are delighted to be partnering with Women’s Business Station to make a high street retail space accessible to their members.”

Supported on their journey by Dundee-based Women’s Business Station, a social enterprise that supports women in setting up and staying in business, the entrepreneurs will showcase and sell a range of products from fashion and flowers to chocolates and candles.  As well as traditional, physically selling within the retail space, digital space within Sook will allow wider exposure of their brands, products and services.

Angie De Vos, chief executive, Women’s Business Station, commented: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our members to gain trading experience within a prime location while raising greater awareness of their brand. We are extremely grateful to our Empowerment Partner Steedman for their support in making this happen. Having them as part of our network in the central belt and sharing our passion for supporting female entrepreneurs is invaluable.

“For visitors, it’s a brilliant opportunity to shop local and explore some new female-led, up and coming brands which are brand new to the market. We’ll also be on hand to meet any visitors inspired to set up their own enterprise. The High Street may be changing but there are huge opportunities ahead. With such a huge appetite to see and touch products in real life again and enjoy more of an experience than shopping alone, this is an exciting and opportune time to engage and connect with some of the most exciting new entrepreneurs branching out in Scotland.”

One of the entrepreneurs is Dundee-based Jen McAlinden of luxury designer knitwear brand, Solasonach. She added: “The opportunity to showcase Solasonach, a small independent brand, in such a fresh, inspiring and vibrant new shopping destination was absolutely unmissable, even with my third daughter just weeks old! It’s difficult trying to establish a small luxury brand and without the support and mentoring of Women’s Business Station team and community, I’m pretty confident I would have given up on Solasonach entirely!”

The showcase has been made possible by Edinburgh-based accountancy firm, Steedman, one of Women’s Business Station growing team of Empowerment Partners, offering professional advice and support to members through training and mentorship.

Kirstin Strachan, operations director at Steedman, said: “Working with Angie and the team at Women’s Business Station has highlighted how wide the divide is and how many women go undervalued and unnoticed. If given the right help to start, scale and succeed their contribution to both community and the economy would be substantial. When we were afforded the opportunity to sponsor an event which allows women to bring their product or service to market in one of the best locations in Edinburgh, we jumped at the chance to be involved.”

Women’s Business Station supports women on their business journey, empowering them to achieve their goals, whether big or small. The social enterprise has an ambitious, 10-year plan to enhance the socio-economic empowerment of 10,000 women in Scotland by 2030.



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