Recently, I’ve been noticing some Instagram pages popping up for businesses being run by St Andrews students. After watching these pages grow for a while, I began wondering: how many other businesses are out there that I haven’t stumbled across yet?
As soon as I started researching, I saw that just as I had imagined, there were loads of businesses I wasn’t aware of. I believe the majority of students are in the same position I was – willing and eager to support smaller local businesses, but simply unaware of them – so I wanted to collate them (at least, as many as I could!) and make it easy for people to find out what’s on offer.
So, here’s part one of my (non-exhaustive) list of product-based businesses being run by St Andrews students. They all offer a great range, so keep them in mind next time you’re shopping – it’s a great way to support your fellow students, shop locally and ethically, and make a difference too!
Susannah Jones has been making jewellery since she was little, and she’s now been able to turn her passion into a business that supports charities that are close to her heart. Anasu has been up and running since January 2020, and with a recent name-change and a new website, the business is taking off.
All of the products are handmade by Susannah herself (what better way to fill your free time at uni?), and using her business to support charitable causes is of huge importance to her. In the past, each jewellery collection was designed with a specific charity in mind, and some of each collection’s profits would be donated to those different charities. Now, though, Susannah has decided to put more of a spotlight on the charities that she wants to help, so she runs events where all profits from all of her jewellery will go to one specific charity. Keep an eye on the website for events and weekends like this, when you can grab some beautiful jewellery and help a charity in the process!
Susannah’s aim is to encourage people to shop for handmade/ethically made products from small businesses, and she wants everyone to know how much these business owners put into creating the perfect products for you. Going forward, she would love to involve some of the “cool creatives in St Andrews” in the modelling and photography side of the business, and she hopes to find brand ambassadors from different universities all over the country.
Have a look at the wonderful pieces Anasu has to offer on their Instagram (@anasu.uk), Facebook (Anasu.uk) and the new website: www.anasu.co.uk
For those of you interested in sustainable fashion and preloved clothing, you have to check out Blemish. Alice Chapman, Emma Porter, and Henry Mould (all 1st year) find damaged second hand or vintage clothing, fix it up, and sell it – meaning that people can buy nice clothes without worrying too much about their environmental or ethical impact.
Alice is the team’s artist, and she uses her self-taught skills to give these pieces a new lease of life, while Emma and Henry are in charge of sales and running the business. They find items on Depop or other second-hand stores with have marks, stains or holes – in other words, pieces that most shops wouldn’t be able to sell. Then, Alice paints or embroiders over these ‘blemishes’, and produces some truly one-of-a-kind items.
The three are all very conscious of the climate crisis that we’re facing, but they know that it’s impossible for people to stop consuming, so they hope to promote more ethical consumption in the clothing industry. Also, they just really enjoy finding and fixing these products, as it’s a way for them to make a difference while also helping people express themselves through fashion!
You can browse Blemish’s products and get yourself some unique, ethical clothing on Instagram (@blemish_clothing), TikTok (@blemishclothing) or Depop (@blemishclothing).
Flora Edmiston, a 4th year studying Modern History and IR, hand-paints tote bags and says that her business was accidental, really. She and her friends had been making things for each other as a way to be productive during lockdown and keep boredom at bay, and one day she posted a picture of her totes on Instagram. Immediately, she had a large response from people who requested designs from her, and the business began to take off.
And take off it did – in less than a year, she’s sold 180 bags! Flora says it’s a great way for her to express her creativity and enjoy herself, whilst also making other people happy with products they enjoy. As someone who’s passionate about shopping locally, she also enjoys being part of the supportive community that has developed between small businesses online.
Flora paints all of her bags by hand, so there’s no screen printing involved: “It’s just me at my little desk with my fabric paints!” One of her biggest milestones so far has been receiving orders from people she didn’t know, and watching strangers turn into repeat customers. She was also really grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with Concrete Catwalk recently, when some bags she had painted were sold for charity.
These bags really are works of art, and would make a great gift for anyone – whether family, friends, or as a treat for yourself! You can find Flora’s products on Instagram: @florastotes.
During the past year, staying in touch with people has become more important than ever – and when you can’t see them in person, why not send a letter? Grace Wilson, a 1st year student, loves sending handwritten notes and cards to her friends, and she now hand-paints and sells some beautiful watercolour cards so that you can do the same!
When lockdown began, she designed a flyer for her church’s Easter service, and after realising how much she enjoyed it she taught herself how to paint and do calligraphy (from scratch!). She loves the idea of people close to her having a physical reminder of their friendship – something tangible that they can look at when they’re feeling down and remember that someone cares about them.
All of Grace’s cards and envelopes are fully recyclable, and she can produce custom cards as well as her usual stock. With shops being closed during lockdown, she was initially selling cards from a little box outside her house. She’s now working on setting up a website, but until then you can see her products on Instagram (@gracealexandracards) and Etsy: www.etsy.com/uk/shop/gracealexandracards
Looking Glass Makes
Jennifer has been making jewellery since she was young, so it was no surprise that she picked it up again during lockdown. As her skills improved, she increased her range of products and created Looking Glass Makes – the name of which is inspired by a section of Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys.
Initially working solely with beads, Jennifer soon expanded her jewellery range by picking up wirework, and now makes custom sets and headbands too. She’s constantly working to make her products more sustainable and eventually completely plastic-free, and she already solely uses recyclable packaging in an effort to reduce waste.
Running Looking Glass Makes while also carrying out her 1st year studies isn’t too much of a challenge for Jennifer. She finds jewellery making very therapeutic, and says that she’s just happy to get her products out there and see that her customers are pleased with what they receive.
You can see Jennifer’s beautiful work and purchase products from her Instagram page (@lookingglass_makes) or her Etsy: www.etsy.com/uk/shop/lookingglassmakes
Made by Georgia
Georgia Musgrove has always been quite crafty, and – like many others – was turning to more creative hobbies during lockdown. She saw a pair of earrings online that she loved, but they were very expensive, so she tried to make them for herself! Needless to say, it went well, and now her business has been up and running for the better part of a year.
All of her products are handmade, and she offers a range of jewellery and homeware items like hampers, painted canvases and trinket trays. Made by Georgia even offered themed products for Halloween and Christmas! She’s currently on leave from university and working full time, so making these products is a nice way for her to spend her free time.
Georgia loves making her products and being able to put a smile on her customers’ faces. Over Christmas, she received a large order of hampers for the staff at her local hospital. She loved this opportunity to treat the key workers who have been doing so much for their community over the past year, and felt proud to be able to give something back to the staff members who had been caring for her Nana at the time.
Georgia’s lovely products can be seen on her Instagram page: @madeby.georgia – you’ll find something for everyone!
Making For Good
In the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, 3rd year student Mhairi Claire decided she wanted to help. But rather than making a one-off contribution, she decided to come up with a way in which she could donate more money – and help others to do so too, even if they weren’t able to make a donation on their own.
She created Making For Good – a way of using art to donate to charity. All of their profits from 2020 were donated to the Bail Project: a charity which provides pre-trail support and financial assistance to pay bails for low-income people. Mhairi Claire was able to donate £300 – money which will have a positive impact on the lives of real people. And this charitable spirit has continued into 2021, although now it’s a little closer to home: this year, 30% of profits will be donated to Scottish charity CRER (Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights).
Mhairi Claire’s products range from canvases and personalised bags to candles and jewellery. She knows that many people who want to make a difference – especially students – are financially unable to do so, but by donating her profits, she provides enables people to help even if they can’t afford to donate on their own.
Making For Good’s impact in St Andrews is already noticeable. There have been times when Mhairi Claire has seen her paintings in people’s windows about town, or has been contacted by other students who have produced artwork having been inspired by her project. It really reminds her that, even in times of crisis, we’re all capable of more than we realise – and that there are often more creative ways to solve problems than we might think.
In the future, Mhairi Claire hopes to continue expanding her business. She’d like to sell more art, produced by St Andrews artists, where 100% of the profits could be donated to charity.
But something which is even more important to her than growing the business, is continuing to turn her Instagram page (@makingforgood) into a hub of information: a place where people can go to find educational resources and information from Black authors and academics about racial equality.
(And, as a big advocate for saving the planet, all of the packaging that Mhairi Claire uses is completely recyclable and most often reused!)
Check out Making For Good’s products and, if you can, make your contribution to charity on Instagram or Etsy: www.etsy.com/uk/shop/MakingForGood
During lockdown, Caragh Shaw, a 1st year at St Andrews, and her friend Rachel decided to get productive, and Scentedsapphics was born. They both love candles and use them a lot, so decided that they’d try making them!
Beginning with naked lady candles, they now offer flowered and heart candles, as well as gift bundles. All of their candles are scented and hand-made with high-quality soy wax (which they hope to start purchasing locally once shops reopen after lockdown is eased, as both owners are very interested in sustainability and trying to shop locally).
The business is only about a month old, but they already have a reasonable following on Instagram (@scentedsapphics) and have made some lovely products. They even hope to start making their own silicone moulds soon!
Once the business takes off and they begin to see profits, Caragh and Rachel will choose a different charity every month that these profits will be donated to.
If you’re trying to shop more locally and sustainably but aren’t sure where to start, Caragh’s tip is this: when you’re shopping (especially for things like homeware), find something that you like, and then take to the internet and see if you can find it from a smaller or more local supplier. Facebook Marketplace is a great place to find products, as well as social medias like Instagram and TikTok. Sometimes these products can be more expensive, but if you’re financially able to purchase them, it’s a great thing to do!
Scentedsapphics are on Instagram, TikTok (@scentedsapphics) and Etsy: www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ScentedSapphics
Scents by Molly
What do you do when your favourite candle is discontinued? If you’re Molly Borrett, you buy some candle-making materials and try to recreate it yourself.
With no prior experience, she decided to give it a go and quickly became passionate about using wax and botanicals to make container and pillar candles, and eco-friendly air fresheners too (which are a lot prettier and longer lasting than the average car ones!) Molly’s friends and flatmates were enlisted to test all of her candles and give them ratings as she experimented with different scents.
Over the Christmas period, she discovered that wax melts can be quicker to make than the candles which she was previously hand-painting, so she’s focusing on melts this semester as her 3rd year workload increases.
Currently, Molly uses soy wax which she purchases from a brand called Eco Soya. The wax is slightly more expensive than usual, but it’s eco-friendly, biodegradable, and isn’t tested on animals, so she feels more comfortable about using it. This is one of several ways in which she ensures that her products are as natural and eco-friendly as can be; she also prefers using essential oils to less-natural fragrance oils. Having discovered that candle dyes release toxins into the air when they burn, Molly has started colouring her products with mica powder – a product naturally found in soil – which provides a more-environmentally friendly, less toxic way of dying.
Scents by Molly’s products can be seen and purchased through her Instagram (@scents_by_molly) or her Etsy page: www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ScentsByMolly
That Dough Tho
Madeleine Bruce took a winning gift idea for her boyfriend’s Valentine’s Day present, and turned it into something new and exciting – St Andrews’ only edible cookie dough business.
The homemade cookie dough is made with a recipe that makes it 100% safe to eat, and it’s become hugely popular around town. The business is only just over a year old, but Madeleine has already had success. Running the business alone (with the occasional help of her boyfriend-turned-delivery-driver) is a lot of work, but she’s proud of what she’s been able to accomplish. From individual orders to a partnership with Saint Wellness which required her to make 250 cookie dough balls in a week, she has a lot of fun creating her delicious snacks.
As a 2nd year Management and Sustainable Development student, Madeleine uses what she learns in class to help her with her business. Finding more responsible, cleaner ways of living is something that is very important to her, so she’s set a goal for herself: by September 2021, she hopes to be providing her first vegan cookie dough with fully sustainable packaging.
Having only opened a couple of weeks before lockdown hit, Madeleine has been working hard to keep her business going throughout the pandemic, introducing safety rules like organising payments via bank transfer, and contactless deliveries. Be warned, though… once you try this cookie dough, you won’t be able to stop!
As the business continues to grow, Madeleine may be on the lookout for other delivery drivers and cyclists to join her team.
You can browse That Dough Tho’s products on their Instagram page, @thatdoughtho.uk.usta, and order by sending a DM.
In lockdown, Kelsey Hunt started teaching herself to hand-sew scrunchies, and less than a year later she is now running Wizenqamot Creations! The range of products which started with hair accessories now includes earrings, bookmarks and (in true 2021 fashion) facemasks too. But these are accessories with a twist – they’re all related to, or inspired by, different fandoms.
Anyone who’s a fan of – well, anything, really – has to check out Wizenqamot creations. These handmade products – inspired by your favourite shows and books – come with a little bit of magic, and are an ethical way for you to show off your passions! Kelsey’s concentrated on making sure that her business has as small an impact as possible on the environment, and to this end she only uses recyclable or reusable packaging. She also makes sure to support other small businesses rather than larger corporations, when she can.
You can browse the magic on Instagram and TikTok (both @wizenqamotcreations), or on Etsy: www.etsy.com/uk/shop/WizenqamotCreations