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. Nearly two 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, much to the annoyance of my partner. 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 two years, and not only have I been awarded Top 50 Businesses in Belfast 2014, nominated and shortlisted as Belfast Telegraphs Woman of the year 2015, nominated and shortlisted for 'woman in business' awards 2015 for entrepreneurship and innovation, and two Belfast Fashion Week awards 2016 for ambiance and attitude and commitment to the ENVIRONMENT, but I have opened my second shop on the prominent Castle Lane in the city centre.
For the last 6 months the high profile location has received a succession of accolades and awards for city centre campaigns. I have 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 80 artists and designers to look after and a 6,000 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.