Post-MA Studio Spaces, Business Start-Up Funding, Teaching Opportunities and Freelancer Support Organisations

I have recently been thinking about and discussing Post-MA opportunities which follow on from my current practice. I have noted these options below.

I currently undertake freelance work on an International basis, and have recently stepped into a Lecturer position at Bradford College one day a week, delivering two modules on the BA(Hons) Fashion degree to Level 6 students. The modules are Professional Context, and Styling and Promotion. I have taken this on due to having relevant industry experience and also to gain some teaching experience which I could use going forward post-MA, to apply for Teaching courses or to apply for full-time positions with the view to completing a Teacher Training course. Therefore, whilst looking at Freelance opportunities post-MA, I also feel it is worthwhile looking into this as another option as I am really enjoying the current role and challenge, whilst being very rewarding.

In addition to this, I have also been in talks with Hattie Spowage, a PT MA student, in regards to sharing a studio space and running our own business alongside our personal practices in the future. I will discuss this idea in another post once we have drawn together a plan for our initial idea. This at the moment is simply an idea in talks, however we both feel is worth thinking about, considering and researching. Therefore I would also would like to consider that as an option looking into funding and shared studio spaces which we could utilise, and therefore learn from each other and grow our business plans and ideas, whilst being about to produce garments and corresponding branding collateral alongside each other. As noted, this at the moment is quite a new idea and is still in the early stages of discussion, with Hattie researching the production side and suppliers, and myself looking at Studio Spaces and Funding options.

When currently Freelancing, I have the option to work either from home, or from a private shared studio space which is ran by Gaz Battersby at The Calls, Leeds depending on the size and nature of the project. With this I can share a space with Web Designers and Developers, as well as Graphic Designers alike, learning from each other whilst being mentored by Gaz. I can work quite remotely with my practice, simply needing an internet connection and my laptop at the very least, and therefore will decide where I am working based on the size of the project, i.e. a small logo design would not require a day in a studio, whilst a web design project would benefit from this interdisciplinary contact, feedback and advice. However, due to balancing this around my MA studies, and teaching day, I am finding it difficult to find time each week to do so, however going forward as my practice and freelance client base grows I would like to work all the time from an ‘external’ studio space in a collaborative surrounding.

Therefore I have been researching into the noted options and have noted my findings below.

Studio Spaces

Shared with Hattie Spowage
We would require somewhere with large desk space for garment pattern cutting, a desk area with a MAC for digital design work, and room for a printer/storage.

– Industrial Units – cheap, readily available and large in regards of space and storage.
– ‘Office’ Spaces – office spaces can be cheap to rent depending on the square footage needed, and are readily available all over Leeds. Again this is beneficial due to space, however being a generic ‘office space’, as the same as Industrial Units for example, wouldn’t have any specific facilities related to our field of design. This is something which needs to be discussed and considered in more detail.
Duke Studios – a range of ‘full studio spaces’ to, co-working spaces and simply desk spaces are available, depending on our needs at the time this may be a good and viable option as there is also access to facilities such as Laser Cutters, and Digital Printers. This needs to be further discussed with Hattie regarding the range of options, prices and contract lengths. We have noted going forward we would like to visit Duke studios to see what the studio spaces in particular are like size wise, to see if this could accommodate our needs as a start-up business.
HEART – HEART Centre in Headingley provides creatives with studio spaces within a ‘creative hub’ acting as a centre for business enterprise, live performance, events and exhibitions. This could be a very good option as local for both of us, and I myself used to work with Zeppo Creative, alongside a previous employer, based at HEART of which always gave very good reviews. However, this space does not offer printing facilities, etc, however this could be sorted amongst Hattie and myself.
East St. Arts and Patrick Studios – A variety of studio spaces and design-led facilities are available with 24 hour access, and a pre-installed internet connection. Also offered are ‘temporary studio’ spaces which may be a viable option whilst testing out our business idea and shared working space idea initially to see how viable going forward this would be. Also included at East St. Arts and Patrick Studios are Professional Development sessions which I feel would be of great benefit to start-up business.
Lady Beck Studios – Lady Becky Studios are very appealing due to very reasonable prices for a private studio space, and also have facilities for creatives to use on-site, whilst also acting as an exhibition and event space. I feel it is important to work in a creative environment if possible, and believe this one in particular may definitely be worth visiting. They also have Short-Term studio spaces, which again is great for start-up businesses. Spaces are also available at sister-studio space Assembly House in Armley in a more open-plan collaborative manner, which I don’t feel are as suited to our needs as the spaces available at Lady Beck Studios, however may be appropriate for individual practice.

Individual Studio Spaces
The below have been discussed in more detail prior above.

– Duke Studios
– East St. Arts and Patrick Studios
– Lady Beck Studios/Assembly House
– Shared Studio Space at The Calls with Gaz Battersby

Business Funding/Start-Up Funding

The notes are in relation to the discussions currently talking place between Hattie and I.

  • Government Finance, Grants and Supports – a range of support is available depending on location, business type, needs, etc.
  • UKFT – The UK Fashion and Textile Association state that “they the UK voice and meeting place for suppliers of fashion & textiles providing: practical support, export advice, information exchange and a voice – to government – to retailers” providing funding schemes and opportunities in regards to also working and trading overseas, whilst offering support and advice.
  • Lamberts Yard – do not provide funding, but run 3-day events regarding start-up independent businesses in Fashion which would be very beneficial if this idea is to go forward.
  • LCA Business and Enterprise Days – again not funding, but workshops delivered regarding new business start-ups, which will be beneficial in many aspects such as learning and developing skills/business knowledge.
  • British Fashion Council – offer specific business support to fashion designers. This would be appropriate if working with Hattie in form of collaboration and business partnership as it is important for to to be aware of our business options as a whole.
  • Fashion Angel – a company giving fashion business loans, mentoring schemes and support services to new start-up companies in the fashion industry, which I feel for myself and Hattie is a great option should we not be able to source funding.
  • Other funding options would be in the way of Kickstarter schemes for example, however this may take much longer to acquire the relevant funds which we would need to start a business. However, again this is not a proven way of working and could either work or fail depending on who sees it and how much money is donated, opposed to a funding scheme or loan which is clear from the offset in regards to total sums. This would all be discussed in much more detail together should we form a business plan for this idea.

Freelance Support and Organisations

Some of these organisations I have already discussed in relation to my current practice on a previous post, however are also relevant to freelancing.

  • D&AD, YCN – Competition boards and awarding bodies standardising and promoting fair practice amongst the Graphic Design industries. My work has previously been shown at the D&AD New Blood awards in 2015 which led on to job offers from the likes of Deliveroo and internships with the like of Glamour magazine. Therefore, feel again going forward participating in these competitions and promoting myself via their open submissions etc, whilst ensuring fair practice will benefit my practice and act as a method of support whilst freelancing when needed. Both also keep blog posts/articles/galleries on new designers, topics, trends, technologies and innovations to ensure designers are up to date with the newest advances relevant to their practice.
  • IPSE: Self-employed and Freelancer Association – Provides personal business support for members throughout all career stages. Also helps with legal protection and support if ever needed.

    “Welcome to IPSE – the membership body supporting contractors, independent professionals and freelancers, enabling them to succeed in business.

    IPSE membership entitles you to a myriad of direct benefits which will defend and protect your business and also gives you access to dozens of member-only offers, many of which can save you hundreds of pounds a year. At IPSE we never forget that you have to run your business as efficiently as possible, so we’ve developed a range of services and partnerships to make sure that you get the most from your membership.”

  • Chartered Society of Designers – “Chartered Society of Designersthe internationally recognised body for the design profession, providing support and guidance for designers at every stage of their career ‘from learning to earning™'” further accrediting courses are available to become a Charted Designer in my field, being protected by and abiding by their codes of conduct and policies. Furthermore, the website itself boasts a knowledge bank of support in regards to self-branding and promotion, to publications and online seminars.
  • Networking Groups, Nationally and Internationally – Debut Magazine, Magma and Laurence King Events, Creative Networks, Penguin Posse – these are groups which I have found through freelance work and contractual clients in the past, whilst also noting events which I have been to before. In addition I would like to attend other events such as the designer networking sessions at LSx Cafe in Leeds for example which happens one Tuesday a month. I feel as well as pushing me out of my comfort zone, will also allow to open up new opportunities, meet new people and potential new clients.
  • Recruitment Agencies specialising in Freelance work – i.e. The Book and Orchard which I am signed up with currently. Both are Leeds/Manchester based agencies.
  • Self-promotion – I have discussed this in more detail on a previous post, however the following I believe will be key to taking my freelance work further – updated CV, portfolio and website, along with updated promotional and branding collateral. I also plan on using websites such as Bechance as I already do which is key to gaining work for me currently, as well as using social media such as a Professional branded Instagram account and a Business Facebook Account for my Graphic Design and Digital Illustration work.


I have been discussing with my supervisor Anne-Marie, and researching independently into different options and have found that some institutions require a teaching qualification, whilst others simply require the MA I am working towards. Others however require a PHD, or to be actively working towards one, and therefore would need to research individual institutions and criteria as needed should I wish to apply for such full-time positions in HE.

Furthermore, I have also come across a course at Manchester Metropolitan University, as guided by Anne-Marie, which is a PGCLTHE Qualification. I feel that this may give me more confidence in teaching and the planning requirements which also fall in line with the responsibilities of teaching, whilst also feel a course would be beneficial in regards to opening up more doors for teaching, and also informing and educating myself in the professional teaching practice. More information on this course can be found here.

“The Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education Practice (PGCLTHE) provides a nationally recognised qualification for teaching and academic practice in Higher Education. The course is accredited within the MMU Professional Standards Framework and therefore meets the requirements of the UK Professional Standards Framework for Fellow status. Successful completion of the PGCLTHE, incorporates recognition as Fellow of the HEA.”