To step into Second Home Studio + Cafe is to feel like, well, like you’re coming home.
It should perhaps come as no surprise given the name for this quirky Huntly Street abode, where you’ll find blankets and even knitted hats just ready and waiting on the seats.
Owner Kirsty Cameron cares not if you slurp your soup from the bowl or curl up in a chair, for she wants anyone and everyone to feel comfortable at Second Home, which can be found within The GYM .
The building is a haven for creative industries, which are all under one roof at Number 39.
A passionate artist, Kirsty was determined to make art available to all.
And her dream is finally coming true, for you can help yourself to all manner of materials at Second Home, and create to your heart’s content.
If you’re purely there for the excellent grub, we wouldn’t blame you. The enticing menu includes daily buddha bowls, ‘fancy sannies’ which include chicken brioche with swish cheese, and smoked salmon bagels.
Far from being fancy, everything about Second Home feels earthy and grounding, complete with a delicious peachy colour scheme, stylish dried flower arrangements and even a doodle wall should inspiration strike.
Society caught up with Kirsty as she baked mouth watering cakes ready for a busy week, and found out why exciting plans are on the horizon.
What gave you the idea for Second Home Studio + Cafe?
So I came up with the idea when I was travelling, having studied fashion communication at university.
I was in Sydney and I got lost. It can be true when people say you have to get lost in order to find something.
I went into a shopping centre, I thought it might come out onto a street which I recognised. I wandered around and I could hear the sound of piano playing from the top floor.
It was an artist-run space, run by artists for artists with big collaborations going on.
In that moment I thought wow, this is what Aberdeen needs.
What happened once you returned to the north-east?
I got a grown-up job in an office, I hated it. So I came back to hospitality, it was what I love and know. I had a secondary business called Paper Fox, which was wedding stationery and small business branding.
So I tried to get some more business experience. I worked on a business plan, and I was also working at Parx Cafe.
The owner let me use the space for free in the evening for art classes, and I branched out by offering different tutors.
The classes always sold out, so I thought this could become something.
When did you make the leap to launching Second Home?
It was post lockdown in 2020, when I was approached by Amy Christie who runs The GYM.
There was already yoga and pilates going on in the building, and Amy wanted it to be more of a creative space as well.
So we sorted out a unit and opened in November, it has been a struggle.
We had to close in the January due to another lockdown, it felt like such a heart-breaking start because everything came to a halt. There was no way we could keep going.
Have things picked up since you re-opened in April of 2021?
Very much so. My vision was a not-for-profit organisation to make art more accessible. That is at the heart of what we do.
I know how expensive art courses can be, the amount of materials you need. Getting a mac with design software and then buying a camera.
I was lucky because my parents supported me at university, and even then I still worked a part-time job.
Some people couldn’t even entertain the idea, there shouldn’t be a barrier on creativity.
That’s why all the materials here are free to use, and we’re working on getting a digital design studio installed.
People are more than welcome to visit if they just want a lunch. If you come in and want to pick up a pencil or some paint, that’s totally fine as well.
Speaking of lunch, tell us about your menu
It tends to change with the seasons. I always wanted the food to be comforting, hearty and wholesome.
The basis is that you should feel comfortable.
I have two chefs at the moment, we plan the menu together, but I let them do their thing as well.
We serve breakfast and lunch at the moment, last year we did tapas in the garden which went down really well.
What can you recommend?
Everything! Our fancy sannies are great. The Banh Mi is delicious.
It features smokey tofu, our homemade hummus, Srirahca, and salted peanuts to name but a few elements.
Our avocado bagels are the most popular.
Where do you get your ingredients from?
We try to use local suppliers as much as possible, such as TPS for fruit and veg, and The Bread Maker.
We serve The Bread Maker pancakes with bacon, caramelised banana, toasted pecans, maple syrup and creme fraiche.
I let the chefs decide what they want to do, or come up with something crazy myself and ask if it will work.
Your cakes look delicious as well, are they made in-house?
They most certainly are. I love our brownies, we do a caramel crunch cornflake brownie.
I’m excited about our plans to have a lot more cookies, and ice cream cookie sandwiches.
Do you still find time to indulge your own creativity?
I’m an illustrator and I’m working on a few things at the moment, including embroidery.
I’m quite strict in making sure that I do take some time off, and making the time to do the things I want to do. It can be a juggling act.
I have a fantastic team of volunteers who help out with everything from the cafe to fundraising for the creative side of things.
What’s next for Second Home Studio + Cafe?
There’s so many exciting plans, it’s watch this space!
I think there’s so much creativity going on in Aberdeen, and we are getting better about shouting about it.
There’s so much going on, and I think people should get the recognition they deserve.
My big future plan is a creative academy. If you are going to dream, you might as well dream big.
I want to offer studio classes for all different ages, with courses in anything and everything. I would love that.
I have no regrets, I just want people to come in and make themselves at home.
For more information, check out Second Home on Instagram @secondhomeaberdeen or head to the website at secondhomeaberdeen.com