Blick was formed in 2007 by a group of creative entrepreneurs who wanted to create a great workspace in Belfast. Somewhere creative, inspiring and affordable. Somewhere to meet like-minded creatives and share resources, ideas and inspiration, to build a sense of community and encourage, support and inspire people to start up and grow their creative industry business.
Blick provides fully serviced shared deskspace and private office space to more than 60 creative and digital start-ups across 4 different locations within Belfast and Derry in Northern Ireland. We also provide virtual services, hire our meeting rooms and event spaces and run different events, workshops and courses to help build community and provide support for small and start up creative and digital businesses.
Blick is a non-profit social enterprise that uses any profits generated from its workspace and business services to help build community and provide events and support for start-up creative and digital businesses. Blick is involved with events such as Blick Academy for creative start-ups, Share 6, Belfast Pitch Night, projects such as Another Belfast design map, Belfast Design Week and working on putting together a free mentor network and better online resources and sign posting for the creative and digital industries.
Blick began with a group of creative entrepreneurs who had mostly returned to Northern Ireland from working or studying abroad to start their creative industry business. We were all struggling to get our businesses off the ground working from home and met on a University of Ulster and NESTA course for creative entrepreneurs. Working again on our business ideas in a shared creative environment with the support and inspiration from like-minded start-ups at a similar stage in their business made us realise how important having the right work environment was. We came together as a group to seek suitable space within Belfast and struggled to find anywhere suitable so decided to set up our own space. We approached Unltd for £5000 funding and rented a warehouse in Belfast City Centre. During this period we were approached by the University of Ulster and Belfast City Council who liked what we were doing and wanted to help us to grow the project. They gave us project funding to help with set up and administration costs and with their help we moved into our Malone premises in 2008.
Without any long-term funding we had to work hard to develop our business model to keep our overheads as low as possible and generate sufficient revenue through renting workspace, deskspace and private offices and by hiring out our meeting rooms and event space and offering virtual services. Before long we had a waiting list in place for people looking for workspace and were providing space for 15 creative businesses with more than 30 people working for them. In 2012 we came across the opportunity to expand Blick and open a second set of premises in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. This second set of premises allowed us to provide a mixture of desk-space and small offices to an additional 15 start-up creative and digital businesses and gave us a city centre space close to the University of Ulster to run creative industry events, workshops and meet ups to help us support more start-ups and build the creative community. Expanding our services whilst keeping our staffing costs low also helped us become financially secure and sustainable as an organisation.
In 2014 the opportunity arose for us to tender to be the operator of a creative hub in Ebrington in Derry~Londonderry for Ilex Urban Regeneration. We were successful in this tender and began the process of developing the brand and business model for Eighty81 and advertising the space so that once the building work was completed in the summer of 2015 we opened to full capacity. We are just beginning our journey in Derry~Londonderry but currently provide workspace for 18 businesses with more than 40 people working for them, we have an incubation program for 8 start-ups and run a graduate residency program and have a whole program of events and activities scheduled for the local creative and digital community for 2016
In the spring of 2015 we were approached by our neighbours on Hill St who gave us the opportunity of taking over their space. Taking a new lease on this space in the summer of 2015 allowed us to further expand our services with Belfast City centre to provide an additional 18 desk-spaces and 2 private office spaces. We opened in the Autumn of 2015 to full capacity
We have been so busy opening new spaces and growing the business in 2015, in 2016 we plan to focus on building the digital and creative community in Northern Ireland. We have plans to develop a mentor network for Northern Ireland and better online resources, a bigger and better Belfast Design Week and a fuller program of events and activities to encourage and support Northern Ireland’s creative and digital start-ups.
Christine has a background in fashion design and co-founded Blick Studios in 2007 after returning to Northern Ireland from Italy to set up her own fashion design business and spotting a gap in the market for creative workspace in Northern Ireland. Christine has had responsibility for managing Blick Studios since it was founded. Christine has overall responsibility for the management and development of Blick Studios and Eighty81.
Eighty81 Finance Manager and Finance Manager Blick Studios
Rosy studied Economics before falling into book-keeping and financial management for small businesses. Rosy has been financial manager for Blick Studios since it began in 2007, and continues to have responsibility for the finances at Blick Studios as well as working freelance for a variety of small businesses. Rosy will have responsibility for accounts and finances at Eighty81.
Eighty81 Communications Officer
Siobháin O’ Reilly is an experienced event manager and project administrator with an extensive background across a variety of industries. Most recently she has held senior roles within the Happy Days Beckett Festival, CultureTECH Festival and as Events Officer as part of the inaugural UK City of Culture team and had the pleasure of working with an extensive list of diverse events and partner organisations, highlights include: The Turner Prize, The London Symphony Orchestra, Lumiere, Other Voices, Buena Vista Social Club, Chic ft Nile Rogers, Status Quo and the Royal Ballet.
Siobháin now works freelance for Blick Shared Studios and is responsible for taking care of the marketing and social media for Eighty81 and also takes care of the residents, help promote their business and to organise events throughout the year.