Glasgow's Creative Accelerator, Six Months On
The Glasgow Creative Accelerator – a programme designed to advise and support start-ups and early-stage businesses – took place in the spring. Six months on, we meet some of the participants to hear what they took away from the experience
Back in April, we met some of the creative businesses based in Glasgow who were taking part in the city’s first Creative Accelerator, a 12-week programme from social enterprise group Elevator, aiming to offer targeted support to help creatives reach their full potential. Given the chaos of the last 18 months, we can’t think of a better time to have some support for your fledgling business.
According to Lynne Martin, the Creative Accelerator Manager at Elevator, the Glasgow leg of the scheme was a resounding success. Particularly pleasing was the breadth of creative businesses – dubbed 'Founders' – that took part in this inaugural year. “It was great to work with such an eclectic mix of creatives who have really interesting and valuable skillsets who want to make the world a better place with them,” Martin says. “I had the pleasure of getting to work with graphic designers, clothing manufacturers, musicians, filmmakers, storytellers, confidence builders, news organisations and more.”
One downside of the Creative Accelerator taking place in the spring was that Scotland was still in strict lockdown, meaning the programme took place virtually. But this didn’t mean the energy of the event was any less lively. “The fantastic thing about it is when you get all these people in a room – even a virtual one – they spark off each other, learn from each other and provide each other with support and advice and connect in a really meaningful way,” says Martin.
One of those 'Founders' was Katie Eyre, a visual artist who expanded her practice in early 2020 to form Tarney and Dolan. Inspired by her grandmother, Tarney and Dolan is a brand of wearable sculptures that explore the female experience throughout history. “I wanted to take part on the accelerator course because I wanted to grow the seed of a business that I had already created into a successful, visible and financially viable Scottish jewellery brand,” Eyre tells us. “I didn’t have a clear idea of how to do that and I felt that the course was one building block that I could utilise to make that happen.”
Graphic designer Laura Hurst took part in the accelerator with Eyre. She’s been an entrepreneur from a young age – “I was 14 selling handmade jewellery on eBay!” – and began freelancing in 2018 after university under the moniker Laurabelle (“it’s a nickname from my granny”), although she’s now in the middle of rebranding her company Paper Arcade Design Studio. For Hurst, the creative accelerator was an opportunity to reassess her business’s future.
“The pandemic had me feeling a bit lost and I was craving structure and direction,” Hurst explains. “I felt like I needed some perspective – it’s too easy to get lost in the minutiae when running your own business.” She was also drawn to the community aspect of the project. “I wanted to meet more like-minded creative business owners. Being a business owner is one thing but being a creative business owner is a whole different ball game!”
Hurst says her main takeaway from the course was finding answers to the more existential questions of running a business. “I have a much more solid understanding of why I run my business, who I do it for and why it’s needed," she says. "It sounds a bit abstract and woo-woo but having that strong foundation touches every element of the business, so it’s really important to have that nailed.”
Eyre, meanwhile, has embraced more practical elements. “The business model canvas (BMC) was not familiar to me before the course and now it’s central to how I view my business, in particular in terms of planning and implementing progress for my brand,” she says. “Through this planning, I have recently secured a resident’s space within the Vanilla Ink jewellery school where I have begun to foster skills in ancient jewellery making techniques such as sand casting, enamelling and granulation.” Since attending the course, Eyre has also placed her designs in the Scottish Design Exchange store in Buchanan Galleries, and will be doing pop-ups this November and December at Princes Square, BAaD and the WASPS Christmas market. “This was exactly what I needed at the exact right time,” she says of the course.
For Hurst, the creative accelerator didn’t simply prove a learning ground. Through the course, she also secured her first client as Paper Arcade – and that client was Lynne Martin, the Creative Accelerator Manager! “I'm super excited to be working with Laura at Paper Arcade as her first client as I launch my own creative business – she's designing my branding," Martin explains. "It's great to know that I can use my own creative practice to provide paid work to support awesome new ventures like hers.”
If it isn’t already clear, Martin is passionate about the project. “Every time I run one of these accelerators I meet with new and brilliant creatives, and I am grateful that this is what I do for a living.”
To find out more about future Creative Accelerators, head to elevatoruk.com/accelerators/glasgow-creative-accelerator