Edinburgh Store 53 London Street, Edinburgh EH3 6LX, USA
- Scandinavian and Nordic design homewares.
- Selection of art by artists and photographers.
- Goods by local makers and small makers.
53 London Street
WHAT WE LOVE
Lifestory, Edinburgh is a lifestyle and coffee shop with a strong Scandinavian influence. The eye-catching colorful shopfront, complete with its “puzzle sign” belies the serene, neutral interior where goods from local artisans and makers sit comfortably alongside popular Scandinavian brands. Established in 2014 by world traveller and health-food aficionado, Susan Doherty, Lifestory is located on a street of lovely independent shops.
"I curate and evolve as I go, developing the shop’s story with every decision I make."
What makes Lifestory, Edinburgh so unique? Lifestory was born out of inspiration to create in Edinburgh the kind of shopping experience I encountered in cities such as Copenhagen, Stockholm and Melbourne. The curated selection includes Ferm LIVING, Frama Copenhagen, HAY, Moebe and Studio Arhoj. In addition to the Scandinavian brands I source local makers, designers that share similar traits to our Nordic friends. The store is friendly and accessible, both in terms of atmosphere as well as budget and that’s very important to me. My customers love its relaxed, unpretentious vibe and know they can drop in anytime, whether to have a look around at what’s new or pick up a card, or perhaps consult on a larger piece for their home.
What are Lifestory’s “must-have”products? My collaboration with Studio Romuu to create The Edinburgh Old Town Skyline Print last year was really popular, it seems a lot of my customers share my love for the Old Town skyline presented in a minimalist way as we have done. In these times, our vast selection of self care and comforting items are popular and we are adapting to expand those – Le Bon Shoppe socks, Meraki skincare and soaps, Slowdown Studio puzzles and lots of cards and candles from local makers.
Where do you source products for Lifestory? I stock many Scandinavian designers (ferm LIVING, HAY, Rains, Shangies and Lindform to name a few) as well as at local brands – makers based in Scotland and making from their home or small workshop. Provenance is really important to me regardless of whether the brand is large or fledgling. I visit (pre-lockdowns) trade shows in Paris and Scandinavia, and it’s really nice to meet makers in person, but mostly I discover new brands through Instagram and through our travels. My aim is to make sure everything I stock in the shop flows together well and has a feeling of continuity from season to the next. It’s not about fashion for me, more about timelessness. One question we get asked a lot is “Is it all by the same maker?” which is a huge compliment because it demonstrates that customers are picking up on that continuity in the curation.
How has the internet impacted your business? It’s been a cornerstone from the beginning. It’s not easy to keep up with all the changes but I’ll never give up trying!
Have you adapted your business to the coronavirus pandemic? I am adapting every day. I think all store owners will relate to that feeling. At the moment we are 100% online as Scotland is again in lockdown with the rest of the UK so, yes, it’s been a year of adaptation. During the first lockdown I redesigned and relaunched the website and instagram plays a vital role for me in maintaining that lifeline of communication with my customers, both near and afar.
Susan Doherty, shopkeeper at Lifestory, Edinburgh
Who inspires you? The people I find truly interesting and inspirational are usually those who had, and maybe still have, a hill to climb. The tenacity and creativity of humans is awe inspiring.
What inspires you? I’m greatly inspired by spaces: the great outdoors, innercity landscapes, interior architecture… so it’s no surprise that this is translated to the atmosphere of the store. It’s got a calm and peaceful feeling even when it’s busy. Many customers comment on the zen-like qualities of Lifestory and that makes me so happy. As in its formative years I was searching for peace in my life, all I wanted was stillness. So the fact that this has translated into the customer experience isn’t by chance. I believe that everything from team to lighting to music impacts on how inspiring a space can be. In terms of physicality, I love the changing light, from the morning through to the evening the place transforms as there are windows on each gable. If I had nothing else to do I could fill my day photographing the changing light and shadows on the products and interior!
Before I was a shopkeeper… I had a career in the digital design world (agency-side), travelled the world on a working visa and more recently set up a healthy food eatery brand which I ran for a decade before selling to a new operator.
Your favorite thing about owning an independent shop? I curate and evolve as I go, developing the shop’s story with every decision I make.
"Follow your heart, it’s what feeds your dreams and it’s rarely wrong. Get the foundations right first, location, systems etc. Be inspired but don’t copy."
WHAT THE SHOPKEEPER LOVES
What are your favorite local independent businesses? Our street is made up of lots of wonderful independents, including cafes, food and gift stores. In my local area of Portobello I love Twelve Triangles for their selection of bread and cakes, plus larder essentials. My idea of a hobby is wandering around local stores and I love Golden Hare Books , Treen, Porty Books, Bon Tot & Grow Urban for some indie retail therapy.
Atelier September , Copenhagen
Paustian , Copenhagen
Grandpa in Stockholm.
Your favorite Instagram accounts to follow? I looked through my saves to try to answer this but in reality I think I like a lot of variety. A couple to mention, for travel-escapism I love accidentallywesanderson , and the wonderfully talented local photographers gabiesilveira mariaerlaportway and sooukdotcom always bring me joy.
ON THE FUTURE OF RETAIL
"However important it was before, the customer experience is now everything. Online, in store, social media… The brands that are adapting to the pandemic are navigating this subtle change well and it makes me feel really positive for the future of retail."