It began life as a local Facebook group, where women could swap tips and recommendations for local businesses and services.
Now the Edinburgh Gossip Girls phenomenon has exploded into a full-time business for its founder, with almost 9,000 members and a substantial waiting list.
The site, which bills itself as a community of people “supporting each other and great local businesses”, launched three years ago after founder Kylie Reid moved to Edinburgh and found a need for recommendations of services and restaurants.
“For months it was a bit sad, because it was just me,” she said. “I kept texting friends telling them they had to join and gradually more people did.”
Now Reid has a long waiting list of women keen to get involved, who she lets in gradually, keen to preserve the intimate nature of the group.
Members have to be added by an existing “EGG”, creating a network of friends and friends of friends which stretches across Edinburgh and the Lothians, while an “EGG card”, which offers discounts at local businesses and access to networking and lifestyle events and costs £20 for a year’s membership, has already been sold to thousands of members.
“When I first moved back to Edinburgh after years away, I realised I had no idea where to go or where anything was and there was a real gap in the market,” she said.
“We can all feel so disconnected from people. EGG is about connecting girls not just to nice places to eat in Edinburgh but to each other.”
Recommendations on the group can transform a local business, with demand often far outstripping a small company’s ability to supply a service.
Reid says that the owner of one company, a car valeting service recommended by EGGs, had seen such a surge in business that its owner, who had previously operated his business as a sideline while he was at university, had turned it into a full-time business.
Although Reid, previously a sales manager for Morph Suits, had always hoped to start her own business and registered Edinburgh Gossip Girls Ltd as a limited company with Companies House over a year ago, the impetus to turn it into a profession came when her father passed away earlier this year.
“When EGG started to gain a bit of traction, I started to think there might be something in it,” she said.
“I just thought after my dad died that if I didn’t do it, I never would.
“So I quit my job. It was meant to be a chance to have a good life-work balance, but it hasn’t really worked out like that.”