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The Story of Blick Shared Studios

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FUTURE

We now have approximately 70 businesses across our studios with 115 creatives working in our spaces.

We are excited to continue our different creative adventures and projects and supporting creatives in Belfast.

2021

In 2021 we finished our Womenfolk Dig Deep Programme supporting 27 young creative women on their journey to start their own creative business. We also worked with Belfast Design Week to launch My Block; a directory to celebrate and champion independent business and culture in Northern Ireland.

My Block

2020

In 2020 the Covid-19 pandemic closed our studios for 3 months. It also gave us the opportunity to run a creative enterprise programme for young women called Dig Deep which supported 27 young women over a 9 month period to start their own creative businesses. We hosted a podcast series of the impact of the pandemic on creatives and also expanded our Popup Design Museum during Belfast Design Week. Exhibiting design work by local designers in the windows of independent venues throughout Belfast City Centre to create an interactive but covid safe activity for the public.

Dig Deep

2018

In 2018 we launched our sister company creative consultancy Flock to bring together the creatives involved with Blick to work on different projects.

Flock

2017

In 2017 we set up a brand new venture called Womenfolk to celebrate and promote women design entrepreneurs. We were excited to be involved again with Belfast Design Week in its 3rd year & new design events such as Late Night Design.

We moved from 52 Hill Street to Cotton Court in the Cathedral Quarter – a building full of creative companies.

We set up Flock, a trading arm of Blick that brings together the creative talent involved with Blick to work on multidisciplinary creative projects.

2016

SUPPORTING MORE CREATIVES
Increased income from growing our organisation gave us the opportunity to expand the free support we provide for creative entrepreneurs including:

  • Blick Academy for Creative Startups
  • Share 6 inspirational talks for creative entrepreneurs
  • 25 Pop-Up
  • The Faculty workshops and courses
  • Creative Business Bootcamp
  • Belfast Design Week & our Graduate residency programme

SUPPORTING MORE CREATIVES

2015

GROWING MORE
We opened Eighty81 Creative Workspace in Derry-Londonderry providing workspace for 18 businesses as well as the Nest incubation program, creative events and support.

In Belfast there was a growing market for our services so we opened a second set of premises in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter providing workspace for an additional 18 businesses.

2015 was the year of Irish Design and we secured funding to run a variety of design events and co-founded Belfast Design Week.

Belfast Design Week

2014

EXPANDING TO THE NW
We secured a 3 year contract to manage the creative hub in Ebrington in Derry/Londonderry to provide incubation space, workspace and events and support for the creative industries within the city.

We developed the brand and concept for Eighty81 Creative Workspace on behalf of Ilex Urban Regeneration.

2012

GROWING BLICK
We moved into our first Cathedral Quarter premises allowing us to provide space for an additional 15 businesses.

With the premises being so close to Ulster University, we were able to connect more with students and startups and build our existing creative community through meetups and events.

Growing Blick

2010

CREATIVE EVENTS
From 2008 – 2010 we ran a variety of events and courses to support small and startup creative businesses within Belfast including Blick Business Blitz and the Evolve Programme.

We saw a need to create more interactive and engaging enterprise events and set up Creative Camp Belfast – an interactive un-conference style event design to connect local creative entrepreneurs and encourage them to share their stories and speak on various topics.

Creative Events

2008

MOVING INTO MALONE
With support from Ulster University and Belfast City Council we moved into our first permanent space at 51 Malone Road.

We focused on becoming independently sustainable by renting our studio spaces, event spaces and offering virtual services. By the end of 2008 we provided space to 15 different creative businesses.

Moving into Malone

2007

BY CREATIVES FOR CREATIVES
Blick was set up by a group of creative entrepreneurs struggling to find suitable creative studio space in Belfast.

Our first studio was a rented warehouse in the City Centre which we set up with the help of £5000 from UnLtd.

By creatives for creatives

#blickstudios on
Like many others we have been slowly rebuilding our business following the pandemic. Doing a lot of work behind the scenes and trying to be more intentional with both what we put our energy into, but also how and why we are doing things.
As we continue to get busier  I want to continue this process and plan to begin each week with a question for reflection for myself. I thought some other people might also find it a useful exercise so if i get time each week I will share them here. 
I love this week's question "what did you enjoy working on most last week?" We so often forget why we started a business and what we used to feel passionate about as we get bogged down in the day to day work. We forget that it's possible and also ok to enjoy our work and to try to create more of that joy.
Monday what a beautiful sunny start to the week 

#blickmalone #blickstudios #creativespace #creativehub #summer #belfastcity #belfast #southbelfast
What one thing could you do today to push your business forward and get your week off to a positive start?

#mondaymotivation #creativestartup #creativebusiness #creativebusinessowner #creativebusinessowners #creativeentrepreneurs #creativeentrepeneur #noprocrastination #justdoit #betterbusiness #betterdonethanperfect
We hope everyone had a lovely July break and a chance to enjoy the good weather.

We are back in the office this week and wanted to share this podcast series that we were very kindly invited by @agencyofnone  to be a part of. The series is all about buiding sustainable creative workspaces for creatives and designers. The series focuses on Dundee but includes insights from throughout the UK. We feature on episode 3, talking about our journey from the initial concept for a shared creative workspace in Belfast back in 2007 to where we are today. It was really nice to reflect back on our journey, sometimes you forget how far you have come and the obstacles you have overcome and lessons you have learnt along the way.

The values of bringing creatives together are huge, particularly following the events of recent years when people are more isolated than ever. There is a lot of work to be done reconnecting and rebuilding networks and communities. Creative workspaces can be a very effective way of building these networks and communities. Working alongside other likeminded creatives gives you the opportunity to share ideas, collaborate, innovate and learn from each other as well as make valuable social and business connections. The challenge however is finding ways to run these creative workspaces sustainably. This is particularly difficult in the current climate with rising running costs and property prices and organisations still rebuilding following the pandemic so there is lots to learn from this podcast series, if you are interested in creative spaces its definitely worth a listen.

Details and links to listen on our blog (link in profile)
MEET OUR COMMUNITY: MALONE RESIDENT ALANNA OFFIELD SEASIDE BOOKS 

I love reading and I love books, I also like to support local creatives and buy local and independent, so I was very excited this week to get to chat with our newest Blick resident Alanna to find out more about her business @seasidebooksni

Tell us a bit about yourself and your business?

I’m Alanna, the owner of Seaside Books. I moved to Ireland from New Mexico five years ago, looking for a change in career after years of working as a social justice campaigner. I write poetry and have always loved reading. When I became disabled in 2018, books and reading were an escape from long days in bed and trips to the hospital. As a bookworm, I had always dreamed of owning a bookshop, so I decided to give it a go during the pandemic.

Seaside Books is an independent online and traveling bookshop stocking books from Irish authors and/ or published by Irish publishers. We travel to markets and community events across the country. We also offer writing workshops and help authors prepare their books to be published.

Any projects you’re currently working on?

Seaside Books recently turned a year old. I’ve got a long list of ideas for things we could do to celebrate all the fantastic writing happening across Ireland. Currently, we are planning to start a magazine to highlight emerging writers from underrepresented communities. We have been working with local authors and lovers of excellent writing to bring it to life. We are still in the very early stages, but I’m excited to move forward.

What was the biggest hurdle for you starting out and how did you overcome it?

The learning curve for starting a bookshop was steep. I didn’t have anyone who had experience starting a business in my life, so I had to do lots of research to know where to start. Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing (I still feel that way sometimes). I started planning Seaside Books during the pandemic, which was sometimes isolating. Finding a community of other folks who were starting businesses was a lifesaver.

Full interview on our blog link in profile
---- Room Hire ---- 

Video of our lovely Main room in our Malone studios that's available to hire

Did you know you can hire out the ground floor of our Malone Studios. We have two rooms available to hire. Both rooms are situated off our lovely glass roofed atrium which can be used to gather for events or classes or as a breakout space during classes or events. 

- Affordable rates of £15 per hour and additional marketing support for long term bookings in our Main Room. We currently have availability on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons for long term booking in our Main Room 

- Affordable rates of £10 per hour for our meeting room for regular bookings. We currently have availability on Monday and Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons for our Meeting Room. 

- Main Room fits 10 - 12 for yoga or similar activities, seats 15 boardroom or classroom, 25 as a lecture theatre and about 40 people standing 

- Beautiful space with high ceilings and original period features 

- Free use of beautiful breakout space and communal kitchen 

- Safe, well-lit, vibrant location close to Queens University in leafy South Belfast 

- We wehave a small team ensuring you a friendly, personal and professional service  

- We are a local social enterprise meaning your money goes back into the local economy and to support the creative industries in Northern Ireland 

Full details and all our prices for both spaces are on our website (link in bio)
This week we had a quick catchup with our newest Cotton Court resident creative freelancer @emanuela_mae_agrini_art who told us a bit about herself and her creative work

Tell us a bit about yourself and your business?

Hey there! I am originally from Genoa, a seaside city in Northern Italy; my business was born there about ten years ago and bounced around a bit before moving to Belfast. My idea has always been to offer written communication for companies and individuals, but over time my core is moving more and more in the direction of a mix between visual and written communication. Although I still deal most of the time with content writing and copywriting (both in Italian and in English), I am developing some projects that can combine visuals and words, in the context of graphic facilitation, graphic recording and illustrated content.

What was the biggest hurdle for you starting out and how did you overcome it?

When I started as a freelancer ten years ago, the main obstacle was to convince companies and clients that remote work is still work: the mentality was very different from today and there was a lot to work to do on it. I always supported remote work and for long periods I have been traveling while working between the countries. Today luckily things seem to have changed.

How do you stay creative/inspired?

I pass pretty much all my free time reading books, drawing, and painting and when possible, I travel to see new places and meet new people. I love also to be around the city the more I can to listen to the stories of random people I meet. When I want to recharge, I go to the sea, which is my happy place.

What’s your top tip/piece of advice for anyone wanting to work for themselves/ start their own creative business?

Just make sure you are into it with all your energies and passion, and love every moment of it 🙂

You can read the full interview on our website (link in profile)
Don't forget to take a break for the long weekend. It can be hard when you're self employed to justify taking time off to relax and rest and not feel guilty about it and for many if you arent working you arent earning. But there is always more that could be done so take as much of a break as possible and enjoy the peace of these extra couple of days when people don't expect you to be answering emails or phone calls

#worklifebalance #bankholiday #longweekend #balance #rest #relax #smallbusinessbelfast #selfemployed #freelance #smallbusinessowner