The owners of the beautifully edited lifestyle concept store disclose their insider knowledge of the international festival city they now call home.
What is Dick’s all about?
Uli: We both share a passion for well-made and well-designed objects and clothing and we very much believe in the ethics behind things. We work with companies we admire. Ones that have been manufacturing for years and have a huge heritage in what they are doing and don’t try to be anything else - items that stand the test of time. The store isn't about fashion but longevity. Everything in the store is really well considered. We edit it right down so people don’t have to. They simply know that that every product in here is made by the best manufacturer in their field.
So Begg & Co made your scrupulous edit for the store. Why?
Andrew: Well the scarves are just beautiful. I knew the name. It was on our list of things to go and see at Pitti Uomo, which is ironic that you go all the way to Florence to discover something from Scotland when you've just come from Scotland.
Uli: I am very tactile. I love to touch things. And they feel lovely and wonderful and then you wear it you feel elated. The colours are so vivid and beautiful.
You lived and worked in London so why did you choose Edinburgh for the location of the store?
Andrew:Well a major reason is I’m from Edinburgh - from more or less around here. My mum was born in St Stephens Street. Apparently my great grandfather had a tailors shop near here.
Uli: We also felt there was a bit of a lack of good menswear shops in the city.
Andrew: And a lack for womenswear too as it turns out because we have started doing that with a proper collection coming in for autumn. We had so many women ask for it as they said there was no store doing real classics. There are as many women buying things for men as men buying for men so we had a lot of women coming in the store.
What do you love about Edinburgh?
Uli: I do love living here. The city is just beautiful. But for me one of the best things about this city is really the countryside around it, which I find absolutely wonderful. You can make time stand still by just going out to the beach and the wind blows through you. I love the fresh air. That was my initial love. And Andrew’s family also.
Andrew: It is amazing how beautiful Edinburgh is that after 47 years I still walk around saying to myself ‘wow this is beautiful’. It’s a stunning place. I cycle and in London it would take an hour to get somewhere yet in Edinburgh in 10 minutes I am out of the city and I'm cycling in the countryside.
If you were visiting Edinburgh which hotel would you stay in and why?
Andrew: We tell a lot of our friends to use Air bnb because it’s the best way to know people who know the city. But if someone was looking for something special then it would have to be the Nira Caledonia.
Off-the-beaten track…where is your secret place in the city that you go to when you want to get away from it all?
Uli: Drumsheugh Baths Club is my absolute oasis. It’s a wonderful place especially when you are just on your own and just relax. We are so busy here. Sometimes you just need to have some space. I can go there for just half an hour and it resets me.
Andrew: Oh I just like walking around the streets. Going for an errand I call it. I used to smoke you see but I no longer need to go out for a cigarette. So it’s just wandering. It can be quite a quiet city in parts so it can be quite meditative. The views are always impressive.
Uli: That’s the thing if you go up to busy George Street you just turn around and you get a view and can just stand there and just breath and it’s just wonderful. You get the beauty of the city.
Where do you go to kick off your heels and enjoy yourself with friends?
Andrew: For drinks with friends we always head to The Last Word Saloon on St Stephen’s Street. It’s as good a bar as you would get anywhere in the world. When I was in London recently I was thinking it would be nice to just go somewhere for a quiet drink and in my head I was really thinking of The Last Word. There was just nothing like it in London and it was quite nice to realize that actually my favourite place was right back at home.
Any writers that you feel have captured the soul of Edinburgh in a novel?
Andrew: It would have to be Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde because that is exactly what Edinburgh is in so many ways. Perhaps another one would be Muriel Spark’s Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.
What are your hot tickets for the festival this year…
Andrew: Neither of us are big fans of drama and stuff but we love going to the Usher Hall so we trust that whatever is on there during the festival will be something that we’d like to see.
Uli: But then last year we saw an amazing performance by the Polish national radio choir at Greyfriars Kirk. It was one of the most amazing performance’s I have seen in a longtime. We are currently trying to get tickets for The Magic Flute.
What's your favourite part of town for walking, meandering and soaking up the atmosphere of the city…in festival time and out of it too?
Uli: In London I walked as much as I could but there was always times I had to take the bus and the tube with lots of people. Here you can just walk and it’s beautiful. So our walk to work in the morning is one of my favourites.
Andrew: Yes we live down at Inverleith so there’s a lovely path that takes us to Stockbridge. The new town in general is a lovely place to walk. Oh and we also love walking up Corstorphine Hill It’s Proustian for me. I get these flashbacks to my childhood when I am up there. We take my sister’s dog up there and he loves it. It’s in Scotland the Best the guide book by Peter Irvine. In it he says that all Corstorphine Hill needs is a pavilion with cups of tea. Such a good idea.
What's your must-see tip for a tourist visiting the city whether it’s festival time or not?
Andrew: I am trying not to say the Botanics as probably everyone says that. Little Sparta when it’s open and Roslyn Chapelis still special despite the Da Vinci Code hype.
If you could advise a first-time visitor on how to survive the festival what would that advice be?
Uli: Look at the festival programme and not just the Fringe. It’s also good to look at the newspapers and see their sections on the Best of. Also Hendrick’s Gin do an amazing event on Royal Circus where they have interesting and unusual lectures or events on different books. What they do is always a bit different. Oh also if in Edinburgh when the festival is on my biggest tip would be to book well in advance for dinner and take packed lunches.
Andrew: Also have a look at what’s on at the Traverse because even though I am not a massive fan of drama I have seen plays in the Traverse that impressed me. Also the Traverse do a great edit of the selection available to save you from going through that big bloody book of everything that’s on.
When in Edinburgh what’s the best restaurant for…
Galvin Brasserie. Classic French cooking using the best Scottish ingredients; a perfect combination.
Timberyard. Great looking room. Inventive modern cooking with the best ingredients. Great cocktails.
…romantic nights out
Blackfriars. Uncomplicated, great cooking in a nice modern setting. Pretty perfect.
Bell’s Diner. Been going since the 1970’s, and nothing has changed since the except the shade of red on the wall. The burgers are still the best in town. But don’t tell anyone as it’s already too busy.
In your opinion what makes Edinburgh such a special city?
Uli: There is so much just happening or just on the verge of happening. It’s an exciting time.
Andrew: It is the perfect size for a city. It’s easy to get around and walk from one side of the city to the other. In fact I wish more did. Also, since we bought our south-facing flat I have noticed it’s also sunnier than many people would think.
Are your customers loving Begg & Co?
Uli: I had this lovely group of Italian ladies in over the weekend when Scotland was playing Italy at the rugby. I showed them our Begg & Co scarves and their response was wonderful. You could see the amazement in their faces. The thing with Begg & Co scarves is you look at them and they are amazing. But then once you touch them, well, that’s the danger. You feel drawn into them. I love my Begg & Co scarf. It hasn’t been off me since I got it. Those scarves are such wonderful accessories and they make you feel like a million dollars.