Half-dozen sustainable Scottish start-ups being checked in at Virgin Hotels Edinburgh

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Six Scottish start-ups that have been supported by a key business incubator are having their wares showcased in a new space at Virgin Hotels Edinburgh dedicated to supporting sustainable firms based north of the Border.

The venture is known as The Curiosity Shop, which has been created in tandem with Virgin StartUp, the not-for-profit incubator for entrepreneurs to start up and thrive that is part of Sir Richard Branson’s business empire.

The half-dozen firms featured have all been supported by Virgin StartUp as well as being purpose-driven with a focus on sustainability.

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The Curiosity Shop says the space features “beautifully crafted” Scottish products available exclusively to Virgin Hotels’ guests, and all companies featured have considered sustainability throughout their manufacturing and packaging processes.

They include Doctor Seaweed’s Weed & Wonderful, which was founded by a Scottish marine biologist, and offers seaweed supplements made using organic Hebridean seaweed that is sustainably wild-harvested from “pristine” local waters.

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Also on the list are Genevieve Sweeney’s knitwear brand, with products made in Scotland with both traditional artisan and innovative knitting techniques using Scottish spun yarns; and Meander Apparel, an Edinburgh-based outdoor clothing brand that says around 90 per cent of its products are made using natural or recycled, low-impact materials.

Rutland Square Gin makes small-batch craft gin, handcrafted by a master blender in Edinburgh, and also produces what it says is the world’s first oolong white tea infused chai spiced Scottish gin made using sustainably sourced leaves from Assam, India.

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All the firms showcased in The Curiosity Shop have been supported by Virgin StartUp and are focused on sustainability. Picture: Ian Georgeson.All the firms showcased in The Curiosity Shop have been supported by Virgin StartUp and are focused on sustainability. Picture: Ian Georgeson.
All the firms showcased in The Curiosity Shop have been supported by Virgin StartUp and are focused on sustainability. Picture: Ian Georgeson.

Completing the group of six firms are Seilich, a small, family-run company based in the Lothians and created by botanist Dr Sally Gouldstone, selling natural skincare products made using ingredients grown in the family’s wildflower meadow; and silk sleep product firm Sensi, which was launched in 2022 by Jennifer Norrie.

The Curiosity Shop said the six firms it showcases will change over time to give others the opportunity to feature.

Virgin StartUp managing director Andy Fishburn said: “Virgin has always been entrepreneurial at its heart, so it’s great to see Virgin Hotels providing this space to showcase Virgin StartUp companies, particularly those that are making sustainably-driven products right on the doorstep here in Scotland.”


Scott McArdle, general manager at Virgin Hotels Edinburgh, stated: “We are proud to have a space of the hotel dedicated to championing small Scottish businesses and we have already received great feedback from hotel guests who are enjoying exploring the shop and discovering new sustainable Scottish products.

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"All Virgin Hotels are unique and draw inspiration from their location, so the Curiosity Shop is one of many things we are doing at Virgin Hotels Edinburgh to tell the story of this spectacular country.”

Rutland Square Gin founder Nishant Sharma also commented, explaining that the firm started out in November “with a vision to make small-batch artisan gin that has Scottish spirit with an Indian soul”, adding: “Each batch is distilled in the heart of Edinburgh, with inspiration from the Far East.

“The support we have received from Virgin StartUp has been brilliant from the beginning and now, to get this opportunity to share our products with international visitors at a landmark new hotel in the city is incredible. We are really excited to see what interest it generates in our products.”

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