Edinburgh Store 21 Sciennes Road, Edinburgh, EH9 1NX, UK
- Pantry ingredients, cookbooks and kitchenware.
- Delicious seasonal menu to eat in or takeaway.
- Seasonal cooking demonstrations and events.
21 Sciennes Road
WHAT WE LOVE
Tucked behind Edinburgh’s The Meadows park is a lovely green-painted food and homeware shop. Elliott's offers pantry items, kitchenware and a café serving a seasonally-changing menu. The founder, Jessica Elliott Dennison, a cookbook author and food stylist, stocks Elliott's with the ingredients and tools of the trade she uses when she creating recipes for her best-selling cookbooks.
"I’d love to see us return to the way our grandparents shopped…locally with a sense of community. Fingers crossed!"
Why did you decide on the name Elliott’s? Just a few doors down from the new shop is the Elliott’s Kitchen which opened in 2018. From here we prepare a weekly-changing takeaway menu inspired by the seasons, our local producers, and what we feel like eating and sharing. Elliott’s is my Scottish family name (although I’m originally a Londoner), so it felt right to call the shop Elliott’s too. We occasionally add the door numbers on to keep the postman happy!
Who designed the shop? Myself and Phillippa Henley; an artist and sculptor with 10 years experience in buying and merchandising. Phillippa is my creative partner and work wife! After lots of coffees and dinners together, Phillippa and I realised we shared a vision for our dream shop that Edinburgh was definitely missing.
She joined me in January in 2020 and we began drawings, sketches and mood boards. From our custom-made ceramic sink which showcases our Aesop collection, to the cheese fridge that’s built into our main counter, to the little stamps that go on our coffee cups, to the stickers that go onto our gift wrapping, to the tomatoes and pea pods that go on our mini totes, everything has been discussed at length over coffee and started life as a sketch in one of Phillippa’s many notebooks.
What is Elliott’s best known for? Bread, cheese, wine, handmade chocolate, beeswax candles, linens, aprons, knives and ceramics.
What are the “must buys” at Elliott’s? Pallares Solsona Knives, Scottish Beeswax candles, Elliott’s ceramics by Cara Guthrie, Townsend Farm Apple Juice, Cordials from Gimlet Bar.
Plus very soon, the Elliott’s coffee made in collaboration with our good friends at Obadiah Coffee, and the very special Green Mandarin Chocolate we’re launching with Edward & Irwyn Chocolatiers, just in time for Christmas!!
Where are Elliott’s products sourced or made? We work closely with our suppliers and believe in nurturing those relationships. We think it’s so important to support each other and connect the dots between supplier and seller, if a producer is really championing something that is new and exciting to them or is currently in season, then we work alongside them and align our buying to their production.
What makes Elliott’s so unique? The colour! We spent many hours swatching paint on the walls before we decided on the final colour. The “Apple” colour on the walls of the Kitchen has become a real part of the identity of the business, so we chose the sister colour “Oak Apple’ for the shop. It’s a slightly warmer tone and it really captures the Elliott’s vibe. It’s a subtle connection between the two spaces and has a lovely calming, familiar quality.
Who are your customers? We are so lucky to have a really broad range of customers both local and from across Edinburgh, many of whom have been with us from the very beginning. They have supported us more than ever this year and after watching us painstakingly renovate the shop for months on end, it feels so good to finally be able to welcome them through the doors!
How has the internet impacted your business? Positively! In the run up to opening the Elliott’s Kitchen in 2018 we communicated a lot about our ethos through Instagram which really helped to build a strong community both online and in-person very quickly. Posting about our supperclubs on instagram meant they sold out within hours which was always a lovely feeling.
Our online shop has also been an incredible way to connect with customers throughout the pandemic whilst renovating the shop behind-the-scenes. Deep in the first lockdown, we sent out Easter packages filled with sourdough hot-cross buns, chocolate, coffee and beeswax candles which not only provided additional income but cheered a lot of our community up in a really uneasy time. Again, this was a really rewarding experience.
Have you adapted your business to the coronavirus pandemic? We very quickly adapted our existing Kitchen space into a mini essentials shop in March and thankfully it allowed us to stay open throughout lockdown. The Shop was scheduled to open in April, but when the virus hit we had to slow down the renovations and take over the majority of the work ourselves. We used the unexpected time to really hone in on the things that make Elliott’s special to us and where we want it to go in the future, lots of creative planning took place in overalls up and down ladders!
Phillippa Henley and Jessica Elliott Dennison, shopkeepers at Elliott’s.
Who inspires you? Clare Lattin (founder of Little Duck and Duck Soup in London), Lillie O’Brien (London Borough of Jam), Leila McAlister (Leila’s Shop on Calvert Avenue in Shoreditch). Essentially, the ladies that founded my go-to happy places when I lived in London whilst working for Jamie Oliver.
It sounds cheesy, but Phillippa inspires me most. We have such a shared vision for this place but I’m always inspired and in awe by the way she curates and merchandises the items we stock…and how she can take one of my many rambling ideas and transform it into something so special. The photographer Matt Russell (who I’m very lucky to collaborate with my cookbooks on) is incredibly inspiring too – the way he captures light makes me pretty emotional. Matt, Phillippa and I worked on a shoot for the new shop recently and I sobbed from feeling overwhelmed by the pair of them being in the same room – ha!
What inspires you? Childhood memories of food from family holidays in France… feeling all grown up as an 8-year old getting to pick up the day’s baguettes and croissants on my own by bike. We stock french LU biscuits and Carambar and so many of our customers have loved that French childhood holiday nostalgia too!
Seasonal produce – it’s such a cliche but it’s true. It’s the foundation of my cooking. I’m already excited for the arrival of forced Yorkshire rhubarb and blood oranges to cheer us up in January. Markets are my happiest and most inspiring place.
Our Sciennes Road neighbourhood and community really inspire me to get up in the morning, even when the alarm is super early, I know they’ll be coming in with different stories. I get to experience little snippets of their life and that’s such a privilege and always inspires me to keep Elliott’s interesting and homely for them.
Before I was a shopkeeper, I…. was a cook and owner of our Elliott’s Kitchen whilst working on my cookbooks. Before that, I was a freelance food stylist and recipe writer in London and Sydney. Before that I worked in product development and marketing for Jamie Oliver, and before that I worked with a food start-up to launch them into the supermarkets. It’s been a busy few years but I’ve always kept moodboards of my dream shop and interesting products I’d come across from my travels. It’s been a real journey to get to this point and I feel like the world has put Phillippa and me together!
Why did you open Elliott”s? Because a shop like it didn’t exist and Phillippa and I felt Edinburgh needed it and we could be the ones to make it happen.
Did you have prior retail experience? I worked as a weekend girl at SMUG for a few months, a much-loved lifestyle store by Lizzie Evans in Camden Passage whilst also working full-time in the week at Jamie Oliver (I was knackered – ha!). As a student I worked for John Lewis too which taught me a lot about caring for your team as much as your customers.
Phillippa has lots more retail experience than me. She’s spent the last decade buying homeware for The Main Street Trading Company, an award winning bookshop, deli and homeware destination in the Scottish Borders. (The founder Ros commissioned the original Harry Potter so it’s a very special place!).
Your favorite thing about owning an independent shop? Knowing that every day is going to be different and interesting, depending on who walks through the door.
Getting to create a ‘vibe’ is the really magical part – being allowed to create our own little world in those four walls, where everything we sell we have a true emotional connection with.
Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? Don’t overlook the boring stuff that takes time and that nobody sees but is very important; the till software, the books, the finances, the cleaning. Where are you going to store that pallet and cardboard when loads of product arrives?
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be..? Cooking at Elliott’s, regretting that we didn’t open that dream shop a few doors down.
WHAT THE SHOPKEEPERS LOVE
ON THE FUTURE OF RETAIL
"Although it’s heartbreaking to see the British High Street fall apart (especially the job losses that come with it), I’m hopeful that we’ll see more specialist independents thrive, particularly now that they realise the opportunity of online to support their bricks and mortar trade. I’d love to see us return to the way our grandparents shopped…locally with a sense of community. Fingers crossed!"
Photography by Matt Russell