Trade charity the retailTRUST and property owners Hammerson have agreed to provide seeding funding and scholarships to new talent, in partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University.

The initiative is open to GCU students and alumni who have an early stage business idea and want to learn how to set up their own retail business. It builds on a scheme launched by the retailTRUST and Hammerson with GCU’s British School of Fashion in 2015.

Talented fashion designers and entrepreneurs can apply for scholarships to study a business-related course at GCU’s Glasgow and London campuses and will have the opportunity to pitch to a panel of industry experts for seed funding to trial their business concept at pop-up stores.

Emma Russell, 23, an international fashion branding graduate is one of the first designers to benefit from the awards.

She’s received £5000 to develop her business pplrstrange which targets customers who are bored of mainstream brands and want something unique in their wardrobes.

Emma said: “The grant will in enable me to grow my business a lot quicker than anticipated.

“It will help me bring out a new collection and fund extra stock, which I will launch at a pop-up store at the Barras Art and Design Centre in Glasgow next year. The funding will also help me pay for a studio, which will give me a place to work and stay focused on the business.

“I really appreciate the faith that retailTRUST, Hammerson and GCU have in me and my business idea, it honestly means the world.”

Four entrepreneurs have received backing in the initial batch of awards, including GCU graduate Isatou Njai, the co-founder of breakfast drink firm Hippo & Hedgehog, which commits a minimum of 10 per cent profit to support development across Africa.

Amy Prendergast, head of People & Vocational Learning Services at retailTRUST, said: “Through this innovative partnership, we will give aspiring entrepreneurs access to training, mentoring, funding and prime retail space to help kick-start their own retail business.

“We very much look forward to witnessing the launch of these extremely talented individuals’ careers, so that they become the fashion leaders and innovators for our industry.”

Jillian Watt, GCU Foundation director, said: “The funding, as well as access to pop up space and industry experts, provides a remarkable support package to talented entrepreneurs at GCU.

“At a time when technological advances continue to change the retail landscape, support like this offers new businesses the time to develop and test out their ideas helping to ensure their business plans are robust and sustainable.”

Louise Ellison, head of sustainability at Hammerson, said: “We are very pleased to extend our partnership with retailTRUST and GCU to support fashion’s new entrepreneurs across the UK. 

“We look forward to welcoming these exciting new brands to our pop-up spaces and supporting the students and graduates to develop and launch their businesses.”



Glasgow Caledonian University