Studio Souk first opened its doors in Spires Mall on 14th November 2013.
Back then, there were only a hand full of artists and designers and our 2,000 sq ft shop seemed like it would never be filled.... but how wrong could I be. Over four years have passed since that day and how time has moved on so quickly. Plans that were once just a little seed in my crazy creative brain have took shape with more opportunities and possibilities than I, and now the rest of my team, ever could have imagined.
My hopes for Studio Souk back in 2013 were nothing more than just a want to have a "workplace"
to get up in the morning to go to, to spend the day with like-minded people, for some peer support and that sense of community. From 2010 I had been a silversmith with my own jewellery company, working in my little studio all alone in the house...with my work most of the time spilling out onto the dining room table. And I thought to myself...there must be other creatives out there with the same frustrations as me!? Or was I just slowing going insane???
So in July 2013 I closed my eyes, counted to 10 and took the leap! I found an empty shop and started work on it to open as an incubation, studio and retail space for a few creatives like myself. I gathered around me a core team that would become the board and in November 2014 Studio Souk became a registered charity, opening up opportunities for growth and development – my little seed was turning into a blossoming tree!
Flash forward five years, and not only have I been nominated and awarded for over 7 business awards but I HAVE ALSO OPENED MY PERMANENT SHOP ON THE PROMINENT ANN STREET IN BELFAST CITY CENTRE.
For the last year the high profile location has received a succession of accolades and awards for city centre campaigns and this year we were awarded Top Choice for Art and Crafts shopping by Lonely Planet and Top Five place to shop in Belfast by The New York Times. I have also been leading the team in delivering innovative, community based art projects targeting young offenders and other young people. But most important, it has surpassed expectations for the growth and development of our residents and retailers alike; or as I like to call them – the Souk family.
Now with over 85 artists and designers to look after and a 3,000 sq. ft. city centre store, my days of being alone in my tiny home studio are all but a distant memory. But it is only through these experiences, through my mistakes and successes, that I can understand and help other creatives with their businesses and, supported by the Studio Souk team, it is now my passion and my goal to make all their hopes and dreams for their futures a reality.