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From idea to launch: meet the Graduate Incubation Programme's first cohort

Model wearing colourful clothes
  • Written byAnnika Loebig
  • Published date 06 August 2021
Model wearing colourful clothes
Our Colourful World collection by Rose Danford-Phillips

The Graduate Incubation Programme officially launched in the Autumn of 2020 as an opportunity for graduates from Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges of Arts to pursue their business ideas and turn them into reality — particularly in the areas of climate emergency, social justice and the responsible use of emerging technologies.

After completing the 12-month journey of dedicated enterprise support, including mentoring and workshops with industry representatives, the first cohort who joined the programme are now getting ready to bring their businesses to life. From upcycling, to innovative set design and even healthcare communication; meet the social innovators and entrepreneurs paving the way for a more inclusive and sustainable future for the creative industries.

We, as artists, often get so caught up in developing our amazing creative practices that we forget we’re also building a profession. Part of being a professional is knowing how we can earn a sustainable living from what we do and how to find the right audience for our work.

— Lena Yokoyama, BA (Hons) Illustration graduate and co-founder of Roko Press.
Performer wearing costume in front of painting
Costume design by Giulia Gallon based on Lorenzo Lotto's work

Giulia Gallon Costume: costume design meets nature

Giulia completed her BA (Hons) Costume for Theatre and Screen at Wimbledon College of Arts in 2019. Her work is widely inspired by music and art,  and her eponymous label Giulia Gallon Costume is known for embedding theatrical elements such as bold colours and voluminous figures in garments. Thanks to her commitment to sustainability in her design work, she was chosen as one of the first graduates to take part in the Graduate Incubation Programme 2020/21.

Photo of David Kamara
David Kamara. Image credit: JPG Photography.

HOFSTUDIOS LTD: breaking down barriers with creativity

House of Fire Studios (HOFSTUDIOS LTD) is led by David Kamara,BA (Hons) Fine Art 2019 graduate from Chelsea College of Arts. His company is a multimedia production house honouring the next generation changemakers and dreamers, those who are willing to imagine what might be possible and go after it.

Work in progress of tailoring jacket and skirts
Work in progress by KAKE Studios

KAKE Studios: preserving the old so you can love the new

Kelly Akehurst, the face behind KAKE Studios and recent graduate from BA (Hons) Costume for Theatre and Screen, came up with the idea to extend the life of clothes by reworking them into something exciting and new. The UK fashion house also offers a tailoring service to allow customers to find the perfect fit.

Digital design of concert stage
Set design, speculative project by David Medina Águila

Using a hybrid model to make theatre more equitable: Amalgam 

After graduating from Wimbledon College of Arts in 2020 with an MA in Theatre DesignDavid Medina Águila focused his work on improving the diversity and equality of theatre through his hybrid production company: Amalgam. By merging digital and physical experiences suitable for both theatre and screen, the set designer  aims to make theatre truly accessible to everyone.

Paper cards showing visual representation of inclusive language in art setting
Accessible Art Language, On The Mend

On the Mend: fighting healthcare inequalities with design experiences

The importance of effective healthcare communication has never been more evident than now, but medical information is still not accessible to everyone. On the Mend is a design studio that tailors vital information to different communities through various mediums — some examples include health workshops, a set of perfumes in a stroke rehab ward, and a game about blood donation.

By applying her designer mindset to the rigid structures in the healthcare system, Mathilda Della Torre, who graduated from BA (Hons) Illustration at Camberwell College of Arts in 2017 and then completed the MA Graphic Communication Design at Central Saint Martins in 2020, ensures knowledge reaches more people so that they’re able to take care of their own health.

Photo of shop with clothes and home decor
PopUp Girls Shop

The PopUp Girls Shop: supporting emerging independent, female-led and sustainable labels

THE POPUP GIRLS, created by Chelsea's BA (Hons) Textile Design graduate Madison McGlennon, is a platform to discover the best independent female-led labels who champion sustainability without compromising on quality or style. From clothes, to accessories, artwork, jewellery, home decor and so much more!

Logo of Roko Press
Roko Press

Roko Press: publishing prints and zines while protecting the environment 

Lena Yokoyama, a 2020 graduate from Camberwell College of Arts in BA (Hons) Illustration, is the co-founder of Roko Press which publishes prints and zines with a zero waste to landfill policy. All the items produced and packaged are 100% plastic free, sourced from recycled and post-consumer waste sources and mostly biodegradable.

Throughout my time on the programme, I had to define who I was and learn how to present my work to an audience, which gave me confidence on who I am as a creative and what I represent. It was really valuable seeing all the other amazing creative entrepreneurs who joined the programme, and how business concepts be applied similarly to different types of businesses and individuals.

Model wearing colourful clothes
Our Colourful World collection by Rose Danford-Phillips

Rose Danford-Phillips Studios: exploring the colourful range of sustainable textiles

Rose Danford-Phillips Studios is an inclusive fashion and interiors studio inspired by the designer's love for nature. BA (Hons) Textile Design graduate Rose Danford-Phillips aims to design garments which are not only ethically and naturally produced, but at the same time don't compromise the potential of colourful and exciting aesthetics.

The Graduate Incubation Programme has provided us with a good overview of all aspects of starting and growing a business, and how we can apply them to our own. I've been really inspired by the experience, which has encouraged me to dedicate more time to use what I've learned to transition my current business into the ideal one.

Wall installation
Glitch, wall installation by Studio Improviso

Studio Improviso: creating art out of waste

After graduating with an MA in Fine Art in 2019, Luisa Rodriguez joined the Graduate Incubation Programme to launch Studio Improviso, an art and design studio creating artistic features made from waste for commercial and corporate spaces, with a plan to expand to the residential sector. The services range from consultancy, conceptual and technical design to fabrication with the aim to lead on the development of new sustainable design aesthetics.

Sign on the wall warning about bees
Beyond the Page (Nest) by Ashley Goldman

District Wild: repurposing artist’s waste for urban gardening

District Wild is the brainchild of Ashley Goldman, who graduated from Camberwell's BA (Hons) Fine Art: Drawing in 2020. Her business comprises a collection of sustainable urban gardening retail products made from waste products provided by artist’s studios across London. It aims to promote the rewilding of urban environments as its products encourage pollination by creating areas of green respite in gardens, balconies or city rooftops.

My business was very much at the idea stage, however that didn’t seem to matter. It has changed and grown over the programme so far. I have a brilliant enthusiastic mentor who has not only given good sound advice and support but also introduced me to some potential retail avenues.

Photo of clothes upcycling kit
Clothing upcycling kit by Uped

Uped: learn how to upcycle and take care of your old clothes

Uped is a sustainable fashion platform by Agne Jonynaite, who graduated from MA Textile Design at Chelsea College of Arts in 2020. The service aims to help consumers keep their clothes for longer by selling upcycling kits, providing free step by step guides and organising free fashion upcycling workshops for the local community.

Applications to join the Graduate Incubation Programme 21/22 are now open! Submit your proposal before 31 August.

The Graduate Incubation Programme is open for 2016-2021 graduates from Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon.

The programme aims to promote and progress diversity in the creative and digital industries. Graduates who meet one or more of the following criteria are particularly encouraged to apply:

  • Your parent(s) or guardian(s) have not completed a university degree
  • You are from a Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic or LatinX background
  • You are from a low-income background
  • You have received a UAL Bursary
  • You are a care leaver or care giver

The programme also strongly encourages applications from graduates who are under-represented in the digital industries including LGBTQI+, Female and Disabled Founders.

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