By Roz Macaskill
A popular fixture for customers near Armadale pier, ‘ragamuffin’ turns 40 this year!
Created by Lesley Robertson in 1978, ‘ragamuffin’ has evolved to specialise in handmade Scottish and Irish knitwear, alongside clothing made from natural fibres in Europe.
A workshop became available in Ardvasar and, in 1978, Lesley set up ‘ragamuffin’. "I started making things in the workshop and people would come in, be intrigued and ask to buy them," she explains. "When I couldn't keep up with demand and kept selling out, I realised it was time to source stock from other, like-minded makers."
After moving to premises on the pier, it was Lesley's own designs that gave the shop its distinctive style and reputation for vibrancy. Lesley says: "People come into the shop today saying the jacket they bought 30 years ago is still going strong, or that they wished we still made our smocks. It's very flattering!"
Ask Lesley what the future holds and the answer comes easily. She reveals: “After 40 years in the business, it’s clear that people love what we do but we never like to rest on our laurels!
“We’ll keep working hard to find new and interesting clothing labels, we’ll keep supporting young design and craft talent by stocking them in the shop, we’ll keep offering shoppers a great experience in store and help them find the perfect item for them and we’ll hope that they keep loving what we do!
“Today we are really interested in connecting with our customers online – we have a fun Facebook page and love to see our customers wearing their purchases and styling them in their own way,” says Lesley.
“I always feel really excited come spring time – we’ve done all of the buying, the collections have started coming in and we can’t wait to show people! We love to see who comes through the door, what they’ll find and how they’ll wear it!”
Lesley attributes her enterprise’s longevity to the unique and eclectic range. "We style it in a way that is inspiring and fun,"
Lesley says. “We are always moving forward but do so organically making decisions that work for us rather than for commercial reasons. A lot has changed over the years, designers have come and gone (and sometimes come back again) but ragamuffin is still the same at the core – beautiful, well made, unusual and interesting design in a rainbow of colour!”
‘ragamuffin’ is open all year round, near the pier at Armadale on Sleat and also on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.