Edinburgh welder quits career to open fashion store in city centre

Sam swapped life on construction sites for catwalks, designers and the world of fashion.
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A former welder quit his career as a tradesman to pursue his dream of working in fashion.

Sam Ingram hung up his hard hat and headed to fashion weeks in London and Paris, after taking the plunge and setting up a pop-up shop in Stockbridge in April, 2023.

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Now a few months after launching his own permanent store on Thistle Street, he says it's a dream come true.

The 30-year-old started his career as a welder and fabricator before going back to college to study civil engineering and construction management. But he always knew fashion was his biggest passion.

It was only after working part-time in the Cruise store on George Street and later in the now closed Xile shop during his studies he was sure he wanted to go all in.

He said: "When I started thinking about leaving construction I decided to just go for it. Fashion was the thing I had always had a passion for. After working in shops part-time when studying I got to be hands on with it for the first time and I enjoyed that way more than what I was doing.

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"I always had an idea that I'd do something in fashion. But I never thought I'd have my own shop. It's pretty mad. Taking on the pop up was the first step. Then it grew from there."

Starting from scratch Sam had his work cut out getting brands to work with him. He added: “It was hard at first to get the big brands. I had to start off small as only certain brands would work with us in the beginning.

“Two years ago a lot of the bigger brands in Paris wouldn’t engage with us because they want to see that you have a portfolio and a brand list that their product would sit well with. I built it up from scratch and worked my way up which was a big challenge."

Former welder opens fashion shop in city centreFormer welder opens fashion shop in city centre
Former welder opens fashion shop in city centre

"I was so chuffed when I finally got an invitation to a show room at the fashion week in London. I ended up getting more than 12 brands. Having the physical pop-up shop meant that brands were willing to speak to me. I think it helped that I wasn't just selling online. From there I knew I wanted to find a proper base and was lucky to get a long term lease on a shop on Thistle Street."

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Sam worked hard and extended the pop up at Space 17 in Stockbridge by two months through to December. He was able to put a deposit down on the 22 Thistle Street unit that is now home to the SMI store. Now he's got his sights on building the brand, which he hopes can plug a gap in the market.

"When I used to go shopping with my pals for clothes we really struggled to find decent stuff in Edinburgh so would end up going out of the city, usually to Glasgow. I could see there was a gap in the market. I put together a business plan and after that I felt confident I could make it work.

"Opening in January was the worst possible time. It was so quiet at first. But it soon picked up. Now it's going great and I'm working six days a week."

"The idea behind the store is to bring a new offering to Edinburgh and fill the current void for a multi-brand, unisex store which provides unique brands and styles. I think customers like the relaxed, down-to-earth atmosphere too. I can't wait to keep building on the brand. The support I have had so far has been great with everyone wishing me luck to follow my passion."

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