Treen, Edinburgh’s new sustainable and ethical retailer (and Nessie).

If you stumbled off of George Street and just kept walking down the hill, where the cobble stones are poking out of the road and pointing you in different directions (health and safety warning; try not to wear mules), you will eventually come across a Starbucks.

Now the Starbucks is actually irrelevant to this story, other than it being the same Starbucks I walked past, back and forth, for 5 consecutive minutes before turning up St Stephen Street to find number 17, the new home of Treen.

Nestled up the stairs and away from most of Edinburgh’s busier streets, ethical and sustainable brands from all parts of the world sit in handpicked collections, hung and displayed on what Cat proudly told me was all secondhand furniture.

Nessie’s bed in the window of the store.

No thought was spared in making of this store, from the reusable organic cotton bags, the chilled-out playlist to the yogi candles (which also happened to be the best smelling candles I have ever come across).

As I walked up the stairs and into the shop, Cat Anderson, founder and thought-maker of Treen greeted me with a hug, and I strongly suspect she is the kind of person who naturally greets everyone that way (p.s I felt special either way).

Cat has worked in the fashion and retail industry for over 8 years, managing stores in the UK and in China after studying Fashion at Northumbria University in Newcastle. After living in Shanghai and Hong Kong for a few years, Cat decided it was time to come home and live out her lifelong dream.

When I was a tiny little girl, I said ‘I want to have a shop when I’m older, that’s what I want to have’.

Cat Anderson / Founder of Treen

So Cat, her boyfriend and their toy poodle Nessie packed their bags and came home to Scotland.

Cat Anderson / Founder of Treen

Since Cat has spent the majority of her life working frontline fashion for big named brands, fashion is undeniably a huge part of her life. Whilst she has always had an interest in ethically and sustainably made fashion, it was never entirely made clear in her wardrobe choices. But when Cat made the change from a vegetarian to a vegan diet, question marks began to appear as to whether what was, or rather was not, on her plate was reflected in her love of fashion.

I have my gorgeous designer bags, they were my babies and my nice shoes and everything and it just sort of suddenly hit me that by being a sort of activist with the choice of what’s going on my plate, I am still almost supporting that industry if I’m still using the leather and stuff in my wardrobe.

Cat Anderson / Founder of Treen
Oh Seven Day’s‘ scrunchies made from leftover fabric.

For anyone who has ever made the shift, or is trying to make the shift to a more sustainable and ethical wardrobe will relate to this next part. I know I certainly did.

It seemed like almost a lightbulb moment to me, but as with anyone trying to establish their dream, it took time and a lot of thought. Cat knew from a young age owning a store was what she wanted to do and her previous career had proven that she was made for it.

Working in retail for 8 to 10 years, obsessing over capsule wardrobes, being aware of the environment; Cat was definitely on track for something but what that was was still unknown to her.

In her downtime, she said like many of us do, she scrolls through social media but in her effort to source a new, sustainable wardrobe, she was spending her nights jumping from page to page, each containing a different item of clothing (relatable).

As we spoke, we discussed the hardships of actually finding products that go full circle and tick all the boxes. And I’ll tell you a secret, it’s bloody hard.

I was trying to think of how we could get some items of clothing that are still as beautiful but go full circle and are kind to everyone and that’s kind of where [Treen] came from.

So I’m looking on my browser and I have like 100 tabs open with shoes from there, tops from here, jeans from there and it’s endless so my postage is sky high and tax is ridiculous and I just kept thinking if I could just have all of these things in one place, and I think a lot of other women are in my situation (soon to be Treen men).

Cat Anderson / Founder of Treen

And along came Treen.

Cat noticed a wall between us as consumers and small, independent brands being easily accessed. So Cat decided that Treen would be the place for these brands to get the promotion they deserve and for us, the consumers could come and have a positive, easy experience when adapting our wardrobes.

Tomorrow marks Treen’s 1 week-iversary and Cat already has so many plans for expansion (menswear, second-hand living, a Treen clothing collection and believe me, it goes on), but for right now, in true ‘slow-fashion’ fashion, it’s all about finding brands with her same ethos, and finding people who will love the clothes just as much as Cat and the people who made them.

With Treen, I want it to be very positive, very approachable, very kind and and friendly so it’s a happy place and it’s somewhere for not only someone with a [sustainable and ethical] mindset but everybody, all together. Sustainable is a wide term, ethical and vegan are very wide terms so if someone has 50% of this and 10% of that then thats okay too.

Positive is positive in my eyes. [Nessie barked, in agreement of course] Isn’t that right Nessie?

Cat Anderson / Founder of Treen

A massive thank you to Cat for speaking with me and to Nessie for being so darn cute.

For a list of Treen’s clothing brands, click here.


Published by Erin-Louise Kirsop

Creator of El Inspired. Journalism student and movie addict on the journey to a more sustainable life.

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