The creative answer to start-up’s problems

A little while ago, I wrote a piece about the fight that Margate and Derby were facing in attracting new retailers when they are committed to charging business rates based on the rateable value. I proposed that the councils have to be flexible and offer rent and rates free periods to attract younger start ups in, without the fear of long lease commitments – which would put the mockers on most retail start-ups in any trading times, let alone difficult trading times.

And it seems that the answer has happened right on my doorstep, with the arrival of Wayne Hemingway’s Kioskiosk Project. This project allows start-ups free use of a funky retail space within the city to see what works for them, see whether they like it and to see whether they can make money at it – without much downside risk.

Embarrassingly, I was actually invited (and had accepted) the invitation to the opening of this in Pelham Street, Nottingham, but forgot. That’s pretty bad planning on my part and appallingly rude. Sorry Wayne and sorry Nina of Invest in Nottingham who invited me.

So I went along today to see what it was all about and the star of the show today is a young designer called Gill Heeley, who actually did a placement with us a few years ago at Purple Circle. This is her at the Kiosk.

Gill Heeley of We Make T-Shirts with their three days of fame at Kioskiosk in Pelham Street Nottingham
Gill Heeley of We Make T-Shirts with their three days of fame at Kioskiosk in Pelham Street Nottingham

I asked her to look proud for the shot and I think that works! It’s also my first published shot with my new Ricoh GR camera that I bought after realising that many of the shots I got in the US were rubbish.

Gill, whilst studying graphic design at Nottingham Trent, started making T-shirts for fun and then teamed up with two friends – Tony Waddington and Mike Knight – from college to try it out as a business.

They now run a business called We Make T-shirts and you can look at their website here.

They’ve got some lovely shirts with great detailing and already look to have some good orders behind them for other independents. This independent sector is what allows any city to differentiate themselves and Kioskiosk, delivers a trial independence beautifully.

There is no way Gill and her partners would take out a lease. There is no way that any bank would lend them the cash to start up without a proven track record. But Kioskiosk gives them the chance to have a look.

Talking to Gill, she was under no illusions about how hard starting and running your own business can be, so she’s being realistic – and maybe this chance is just what her and her partners need to get started on their way to a great business.

Good luck to them and thanks for giving them the opportunity Mr Hemingway. Oh, and Nottingham City Council for giving them the space.

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