The owners of Bruntfield’s newest gift shop launched their business with the simple aim of filling the store with shelves and filling the shelves with beautiful products.
Raf – the Turkish word for shelf – opened two months ago and has now become a showcase for the work of more than 40 local makers and designers.
Soapmaker Meric Gursoy, originally from Istanbul, came up with idea while sharing studios with Turkish crafters Melike Senturk and Sinan Senturk, who both specialise in leatherwork. “As we were making our own goods and selling them at craft fairs, we were constantly meeting other makers who all shared the same problem; they were all struggling to find a place to showcase and sell their products,” says Meric. “The shop is a place to show all these lovely things and also have our own base.”
Once premises in Bruntsfield had been secured, there was no shortage of volunteers willing to help transform the space – previously a jewellers and a card shop – with a team of ten working to clean and decorate the shop.
Operating as a collective, with the three friends at its core, Raf strives to promote handmade crafts, produced in an ethical and eco-friendly way. In line with the original vision, the shelves are crammed with cards, prints, jewellery, ceramics, candles, soaps, skincare, bags, hats, babywear, leatherwork, glass art, dog accessories, stationery, lamps, homeware and small furniture. There is always a steady flow of new crafters wishing to sell their wares.
Meric, who worked in chemical engineering at Heriot Watt University, before following in the footsteps of her great-great-grandfather to become a soapmaker, adds: “Every day at least one person comes in and says they used the shop when it sold cards or jewellery. It has a nice atmosphere and it’s good to know the shop is already part of the community, with it own history.”
Raf Edinburgh, 170 Bruntsfield Place, EH10 4ER.