On a quiet, leafy corner in Temple Bar’s historic quarter is Scout, an independent shop founded by Wendy Crawford in 2008. Down the cobbled streets there is an array of book and antique shops, and an old theatre tracing back to the 17th century. The building Scout is housed in was built more recently, in the early 1990s. “I had a customer who was an architect, and when I told him we were moving from our old shop to our current space, he said he had designed it,” Wendy says. “It felt really serendipitous. He told me all about the materials he used, such as the beautiful green tiles on the facade, which were made in Wales.”
A few months ago, renovations to the interior were completed. “I thought the process of packing and unpacking everything was going to be awful,” she says. “But it was actually great. It’s not like packing up a house where you have so many emotions tied to the things, and you find things you have forgotten about. With this, it was so enjoyable that everything we packed up was beautiful.”
The renovation was centred around making the most of the space in the shop. “The pandemic changed the way we worked. We needed the space to function better for the team,” Wendy says. “Our business began to expand online, we found lots of new customers. It was hard to balance the shop side and the online side all in one space. So we took down a big wall and reconfigured where we kept our stock.” She put in lots of big cupboards and extra hidden storage. “So the floor remained beautiful and not filled with boxes and paper.” The new shop counter is twice as big. “I was initially nervous that people wouldn’t like the changes we made. But now I truly believe we kept the essence of who we are and our customers can feel that.”
After a decade working in personal shopping, Wendy began selling clothing in 2008 in a small marketplace called The Loft in Dublin. “It was fantastic for little burgeoning independents,” she says. It was based in an old Georgian building with grand stairs up to the entrance. “During the recession, they gave us five months rent free to give it a try. So lots of shops began opening, as it gave them a lovely platform to cut their teeth.” She moved to her current space six years later.
To find her early stock, she travelled with her husband to Paris. “We sourced some lovely vintage pieces, it was a really fun part of our lives. Then I thought about how to mix these items with contemporary pieces, and that’s when I started finding new interesting brands.” Fabric became really important to her. “I love those beautiful vintage cottons and linens you find in Paris, and discovered brands that were creating pieces in the same high-quality natural fibres.”
When choosing pieces, she ensures they’re not just for a season. “We buy things that people can wear year-round,” she says. “I also love to think whoever is buying a piece is going to really use it. I hate the idea that someone will buy something and it just sits in their wardrobe.” Wendy builds relationships with her customers, remembering what they have bought previously and thinking about what would work with their existing wardrobes. She also considers longevity as being key to discerning which pieces to invest in. “Whenever I go shopping, I always ask myself if I’m going to be wearing it years later. I want to wear pieces forever, so I think about that when I help customers, too.” Having hosted mending workshops, Wendy finds an affinity with the TOAST approach to social conscience. “We share the same ethos. We can’t live in a throwaway culture any more.”
Interview by Alice Simkins.
Photographs by Doreen Kilfeather.
Wendy wears our Blouson Sleeve Organic Strata Check Dress.
A curated selection of the TOAST collection can be found at Scout at 5 Essex Street West, Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland.