Small Business sat down with Ruby Friel, founder of Still Life, one of the three winners of the Small Business x Sage pop-up shop competition.
The winning businesses were chosen by our expert panel to occupy a pop-up shop space in Edinburgh’s St James Quarter during the festive period.
Still Life focuses on well-made products that often use natural materials and local resources.
A former florist and product designer, Ruby has travelled the world for inspiration, exploring independent boutiques to source Still Life’s products.
Ruby opened up the shop in March 2020 when she was on maternity leave with her daughter, Edie. Now she’s joined by Luca, an artist and creator, and Rebecca, a florist. They aim to provide a friendly, welcoming and inclusive shopping experience.
Tell us more about you and your business
I’m Ruby and I’m from Still Life. We’re a homewares and lifestyle store in Stockport. We sell design-led homewares and lifestyle products from brands across the world. We also champion small local music makers.
What made you want to enter the competition?
We have wanted to do a pop-up for quite a long time. When I saw the competition, I thought, ‘Brilliant, this is a great way to trial it with some support.’ I just wanted to see what the business was capable of with a higher footfall. I want to expand at some point, and it gives me a little bit of an insight into what might be a good idea to expand into or how to grow.
How did you feel about the pop-up being in Edinburgh?
One of my staff, Rebecca, loves Edinburgh. It was brilliant because she’s going to be the one doing it. That’s perfect. She’d also been to the centre, and she said that it was a really, really nice place to do it. It’s just a beautiful place to come. So yeah, happy!
What does the win mean to you?
It was really nice to have the recognition. I think someone from Sage said that Still Life was an interesting brand with interesting marketing and good potential to scale. That was a really, really nice compliment to hear.
To know that my staff are going to get a treat as well, which is going to Edinburgh for a week. So yeah, really good.
What are the main takeaways you hope to get from the event?
The main things that are good for us to get out of it are hopefully some sales, obviously. But then seeing what the business is capable of in an area of higher footfall, but also seeing how people react to that. Where we are, and the kind of shop that we are, we attract a very specific customer. Are we commercial enough to be in an area where there’s lots of different types of customers around? It’s a really good learning opportunity from that point of view.
Why do you think it’s important for brands like Sage and Small Business to champion small businesses?
I think it’s really important for bigger companies that work with small companies to interact and talk to each other about what works for either side so that both both sides can get their model and their communication with each other really smooth and beneficial to each other.
But also, as a small business, you’re always going to have to work with some big companies as well. And just to know that they recognise what you are and they see for what you are, and they understand your business is really helpful. The things that they do or say or the way they approach you, they’re approaching it with some knowledge rather than just a corporate big business kind of mindset.
More on the Sage pop-up shop competition
Sage pop-up shop winner #1 – Kirsty Fergusson, GET IT GRL – Kirsty Fergusson, founder of personalised gift and women’s wear brand, GET IT GRL, talks to Small Business about her pop-up shop win
Sage pop-up shop winner #3 – Pete Allison, Woven Whisky – Pete Allison, co-founder of blended whisky firm, Woven Whisky, talks to Small Business about their pop-up shop win