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Creative Futures: Celebrating the enterprise journeys from our 2022 Business Incubator

Students sitting in the College garden
  • Written byAnnika Loebig
  • Published date 26 August 2022
Students sitting in the College garden
Students sitting in the College garden, Wimbledon College of Arts, UAL | Photography: Alys Tomlinson

Creative Futures hosted their first Demo Day event on 19 July 2022 to celebrate the founders from the 2022 Creative Futures Business Incubator programme.

The event was an opportunity for aspiring founders and mentors to find out more about how Creative Futures’ participants worked with the UAL community and beyond to shape and launch their creative businesses.

The evening started with a welcome from Dr Marcus O’Dair, introducing how the Knowledge Exchange team at Chelsea, Camberwell and Wimbledon addresses challenges of social injustice, climate emergency and the future of work through student and graduate enterprise, business support and community engagement. Creative Futures is designed to support makers and innovators of the future with a strong social purpose, commitment to sustainability and ideas that have the potential to grow.

The introduction was then followed by 10 businesses, from sustainable fashion brands to content creators, recording studios and more, pitching their creative products and services and sharing the development of their ideas alongside the lessons they gained along the way. After each presentation, attendees took part in a live Q&A with the founders.

We caught up with 3 of the participating founders to reflect on the Creative Futures Incubator programme and what lies ahead for them and their businesses.

Hi all! Could you start by telling us why you decided to sign up for the 2022 Creative Futures Incubator?

Reianna Shakil, founder of Studio ZRX and mentored by Jaxon Pope and Riccardo Centazzo, UAL alumni and Founders of Selce Studio: What drew me to sign up for the UAL Creative Futures Incubator was the fact that it was specifically directed toward young entrepreneurs with early-stage start-ups in the creative industry. Most entrepreneurship programmes aren’t aimed at creatives and thus aren’t equipped with the challenges that come with navigating this industry, especially when tailored guidance is scarce and you’re doing it alone.

Gemma Robinson, founder of Betty Printo: I signed up to Creative Futures to receive feedback on my idea and gain an understanding of the steps it would take to start a business. I was blown away by the support and resources the programme provided and didn’t anticipate finding such a sense of community with other participants, who I am glad to be staying in touch with as we move on.

I was paired with Calum Hall, founder of Creative Debuts, as my mentor, who went out of his way to offer advice and support throughout the whole process. I don’t know where else I could have possibly found such targeted support.

Adeolu Banjo, founder of independent music label and studio Culture Drip and mentored by Mazin Alabdulbaqi and Michael Olatunji, founders of Outset Studio: I had recently opened a music studio, but didn’t have any business experience and really wanted to learn how to be a better leader for my team. The Creative Futures Incubator came at a perfect time for me as I was searching for a way to be exposed to other young entrepreneurs as well as gain insight in the skills needed to run a successful business.

Portraits of 3 participants
Reianna Shakil, Gemma Robinson, Adeolu Banjo

What was your favourite part of the Demo Day?

Reianna: My favourite part of the Demo Day was being able to step out of my comfort zone and take part in the first place! Besides, of course, seeing the positive strides our creative community has made with their own ventures. I was on the fence about pitching but I realised I won’t learn from the experience if I don’t share my progress and journey with everyone, nor would I gain any exposure to get any of the business support I’m after.

Gemma: The best bits of the Demo Day were seeing people I’ve grown close to excel in their presentations, and receiving positive feedback and offers of support from peers and professionals in the creative industry. It was also a helpful launching off point to work towards as an incentive to polish up branding design and copy.

Adeolu: My favourite part about Demo Day was the chance to witness all the growth in this year's cohort of entrepreneurs. Hearing the other pitches was truly inspiring and seeing the ways people were able to grow their ideas over the course gave me a lot of hope.

What are some of the next steps for your business idea?

Reianna: I’m proud to share that I was selected for the Under 25s Residency at Makerversity - so this is where I shall be making traction for the next quarter of the year and hopefully beyond! I will be honing in on my visual and brand identity, social media and website, along with the product development for both projects I’m working on - a furniture piece and a conceptual electrical product. My main priorities are building on my confidence in the joinery workshop, through experimentation and CAD/CNC prototyping; in addition to exploring how to move my small appliance from concept to reality, through electronics and engineering.

I am incredibly excited for what the future brings for Studio ZRX and for my own professional development as a graduate product and furniture designer.

Gemma: My next steps will be launching our first print run, growing our community and exhibiting work on the unused wall space of local business.

Adelou: The next step for our business is to just do more! We are focused on establishing our brand. We are looking to delve into more live shows as well as continuing our work with the artists on our roster.

Creative Futures is open to anyone living in Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark or Wandsworth who is aged 18-25 and has an early-stage creative business or an idea to develop.

Find out more about the application process on the Creative Futures webpage or email Applications close on 12 September.