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Selection of products within store at The Leith Collective Selection of products within store at The Leith Collective


IWD Spotlight: The Leith Collective

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we spoke to Sara Thomson, owner and founder of The Leith Collective about her journey and experience as a female business owner.

Leith Collective Founder Sara Thomson

Tell us about your career journey

I started off in photography with no business knowledge, but I felt a real need to help the creative industries in Scotland. So, I  decided to learn how to run a business by doing short courses and free webinars. I then launched The Leith Collective and began to grow it organically. Today, I have three stores in Edinburgh and Glasgow which showcase the work of more than 400 artists, makers, designers, crafters, and innovators from all over Scotland. The artists are united by a common aim to reuse, recycle, reclaim and re-purpose items that may otherwise have been destined for landfill, giving them a new lease of life. Each maker is committed to our campaign to ditch single-use plastics, opting to use eco-friendly alternatives throughout their entire creative process.


What inspired you to start The Leith Collective?

I know that it’s hard to get a job as a creative and I wanted to stop Scotland losing its amazing creative talent. I also know from personal experience that it is possible to be in the creative industry and live and work sustainably. I therefore established The Leith Collective to inspire others to take sustainability more seriously.

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What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

To me, it illustrates how far women have come in recent times. It signifies women empowering each other with strength and recognition. As a female business owner, I would love to think my work could inspire any young person to follow what their heart tells them to do. I am lucky to be in a job that I love and I want that for everyone. As a mother, I have brought up my boys to have huge respect for strong women.

What has helped you to be successful as a female business owner and what challenges have you faced?

Having children, I have learned to multi-task because juggling kids, home life, a career and the ups and downs of life is one of the biggest challenges we all face.  Another challenge is the lack of women in similar positions to myself. It can sometimes be intimidating and lonely being the only woman in the room, but I hope to see that change.

Sara Thomson within the Leith Collective Fort Kinnaird

Do or did you have a woman leader as a mentor or are there specific women who inspired you and why?

My granny! She was my inspiration because she was truly ahead of her time. She was independent and intelligent and taught me not to follow the herd but to always trust yourself and do what you feel is right. She was a strong woman, she didn’t have old fashioned views, she moved with the times and always wanted to see me do well as a woman.

What advice would you give to female business owners or those looking to start their own business?

I would say be strong, look for other woman doing it, and try to reach out to them to get advice and inspiration.  I would also say don’t feel undervalued as a woman – gender should never come into it – if you do well with something it’s because you are good at it and you deserve it – never feel unequal!


Visit The Leith Collective at Fort Kinnaird or visit their website to find out more


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