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3 graduates on how UAL Incubator: Launch helped them start their creative enterprises

Long audience shot of people on the left and right and a big projector screen in the middle.
  • Written byAnnika Loebig
  • Published date 13 March 2023
Long audience shot of people on the left and right and a big projector screen in the middle.
UAL Incubator Launch Demo Day, 2022, UAL | Photograph: Kristina Sarkisyan

A new cohort of graduates from Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon College of Arts have completed the UAL Incubator programme to bring their business ideas to life.

Over 6 months, participants got the chance to develop their entrepreneurial skills and develop their enterprises spanning across a wide range of creative fields, from furniture studios and interior design tools to teaching children S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics).

This year’s participants included:

  • Carlos Izaguirre Rodriguez, 2022 BA Interior Design graduate from Chelsea College of Arts: His business ‘Spacecubed’ is an interior design tool aimed at elevating London’s living standard.
  • Emma Berardi, 2022 BA Product and Furniture Design graduate from Chelsea College of Arts: Her small batch ceramic business ‘Emma The Studio’ brings handmade products into the hands of clients, with a focus on being unique and limited edition.
  • Isabella Blake and Caroline Ashley, 2022 BA Fine Art graduates from Chelsea College of Arts: The purpose of their business ‘Collective Gallery’ is to create a gallery space for all, with the wellbeing and agency of artists at the forefront of facilitating the gallery’s weekly private views.
  • Eizabeth Cardozo-Richards, 2021 MA Fine Art graduate from Chelsea College of Arts: (The) Shop Front is currently a pop-up gallery and non-profit enterprise based in London, focusing on giving emerging artists a platform to exhibit their work and facilitating workshops.
  • Jasmine Kuti-Smith, 2022 BA Theatre Design graduate from Wimbledon College of Arts: Freedom Eve Furniture is a London based Bespoke Vintage Furniture Upcycling business, an entrepreneurial venture bringing colour, contemporary design and pattern with a unique flare inspired by Jasmine’s British-Nigerian heritage.
  • Long Yuan and Star Sun, 2021 MA Fine Art Sculpture and MA Interior Spatial Design graduates from Camberwell College of Arts: Their business INOASIS is an artistic intelligent plant installation, hoping to light up the daily life of urbanites while helping them to grow plants with ease while reducing food waste and food miles.
  • Luca Monteregge and Caden Silver, 2022 BA Fine Art graduates from Chelsea College of Arts: REPOSE is a reflective gallery & mental health consultancy which offers curated spaces to promote wellness and mental wellbeing, working in collaboration with a number of private and public healthcare services.
  • Lucia Ciccone, 2022 BA Graphic Design Communication graduate from Chelsea College of Arts: Positive Wave is a gift, stationery, and print business, which emphasises inclusivity in its design concepts and aesthetics as well as the impact on the environment.
  • Rebecca Travers-Spencer, 2019 BA Fine Art graduate from Chelsea College of Arts: Paperbotics provides unique S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) and robotics craft activities for children aged 7-12, such as learning maths, coding and technology through combining circuits and codable tech with paper engineering and origami theory.
  • Ryan Jean Wai, 2022 BA Product and Furniture Design graduate from Chelsea College of Arts: His namesake label Ryan Design Studio focuses on making both high-end and commissioned craft furniture as well as lower-end products for general consumers without using screw fixtures.
  • Weronika Kubak, 2021 BA Interior Design graduate from Chelsea College of Arts: Wuku design is an art and design practice developed to creatively collaborate with design enthusiasts and provide them with freelance design assistance, commissioned drawings, paintings and artworks.

As the programme has come to an end and participants are finding their feet in their respective fields, we caught up with Luca, Rebecca and Star to hear about what they learned from Incubate UAL and what’s up next for their businesses:

An illustration of simple robots next to each other
Paperbotics graphic, 2022 | Illustration: Rebecca Travers-Spencer

Hi Luca, Rebecca and Star! Congratulations on completing the Incubate UAL programme. What were some of the most valuable lessons you took away from taking part in UAL Incubator: Launch?

Luca Monteregge, Repose Gallery: The Incubator: Launch gave us hope that even at such an early stage in our business, prior to trading and events, there was an audience for our ideas. We also put a lot about ourselves into what we do, and it was great to see a positive response to this.

Rebecca, Paperbotics: The most valuable lessons were the bite-sized, entry-level lessons on accounting, finance and company structures. I also learnt how to create pitches that take into account what potential investors want. Another key takeaway from the programme was the importance of growing my networks.

Star, INOASIS: My artist explanation of a creative idea has a tone that is poetic, romantic and dreamy. But when I translate it into a business, it has to be punchy and succinct, and the workshop helped with that a lot. I also learned that having knowledge of marketing doesn’t mean compromising an artistic idea, and seeing more of its value in the market instead.

The Incubator: Launch gave us hope that there was an audience for our ideas.

— Luca Monteregge, Repose Gallery

Could you tell us about some of the things you have implemented in your business since completing the programme?

Luca: Caden and I have continued to use the finance worksheet provided through our workshop to balance our personal survival budget with that of our businesses. Budgeting is a major skill in opening a business, and knowing the worth of our work is a must.

Rebecca: Since completing the incubator, I’m more aware of protecting my own IP, and now actively implement it in my design pipeline. I also now know for sure I want to incorporate as a social enterprise (Community Interest Company). I’ve made myself a big paper schedule for grant applications, seed investments, and upcoming opportunities – with lots of post-it notes!

Star: After identifying the business and product during the incubation, the pitching skills from the workshop made it much easier to help people quickly understand and generate interest in what we are doing. We produced an impressive pitching video on the launch demo day and later on connected with the UAL Enterprising Alumni Network. We are just getting more confident doing it.

What would you say is the next milestone for your business?

Luca: We’re hoping to gain financial backing by the end of 2023. We’re already proving ground with our events and sessions, so with what we’ve learnt through the programme, we’ll pitch this to funding bodies and organisations.

Rebecca: It would probably be to officially incorporate - other than that, beginning a crowdfunding campaign for the launch of my first eco STEAM kit is another big step forward.

Star: Registering the business and getting everything ready from branding to marketing for the core product launch day later this year.

People socialising and standing in a room with drinks in their hands
The Hub networking drinks, 2022 UAL Incubator Launch Demo Day | Photograph: Kristina Sarkisyan

Do you have any words of encouragement for people thinking of applying to the next round of the UAL Incubator: Launch programme?

Luca: Be open-minded and prepare to evolve. Repose Gallery was a really big idea and we’ve shifted what we do based on what stage of the business we’re at.

Get together with your peers at Incubate! There is so much to learn from others – closing your eyes and ears is never worth it.

Rebecca: I would say to just go for it! You don’t have to worry about creating a super polished application, like the kind you would for corporate incubators. This programme is wonderfully supportive and tailored to creatives.

If you’d like to keep updated on my post-incubator progress, or are interested in collaborating, feel free to connect with me either by following Paperbotics on Instagram, or by reaching out on the UAL Founders and Freelancers community on The Dots.

Star: If you have a dream, dream bigger and do it. If you don’t do it now, then when?

Don’t be afraid to talk to people about your crazy idea, whether it’s right or wrong, share it and then you’ll know your decision based on the feedback you receive.

If you have a dream, dream bigger and do it. If you don’t do it now, then when?

— Star Sun, INOASIS

Would you like to join Incubate UAL? Applications to take part in our UAL Incubator will reopen in June 2023.

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