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Seven Dials launches pop-up incubator initiative

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Shaftesbury has launched a new initiative, ‘Start Up with Seven Dials,’ to offer “brands born from the ‘kitchen table’ during lockdown” a physical incubator space in Seven Dials to kickstart their brand.

The aim of the initiative is to “celebrate and support budding UK businesses that have responded to adversity with enterprise,” explains Shaftesbury, and will be open to all types of retail brands, including fitness, fashion, lifestyle and homewares.

The move is in response to new research that has revealed that while the Covid-19 lockdown has seen much uncertainty, 1 in 10 small businesses have launched new products or expanded their services from home.

Brands have two weeks to enter this initiative and a panel of industry experts, including Shaftesbury’s retail director, Samantha Bain-Mollison, will judge all the entrants and decide which brands deserve the bricks-and-mortar retail opportunity. There will be up to four applicants awarded the prize.

The pop-up will offer the successful applicants a “blank canvas” to “bring to life with their own brand identity” alongside Seven Dials’ independent, designer and entrepreneurial brands such as Farah, Diesel, Coco De Mer, Fashercise and Tatty Devine.

Shaftesbury to offer up to 4 brands a pop-up space in Seven Dials with new incubator

Retail director at Shaftesbury, Samantha Bain Mollison, said in a statement: “Seven Dials is home to many independent, flagship and concept stores so this initiative allows us to continue this support of incubating UK based brands.

“We recognise that 2020 has been very tough for many businesses, but it has also been a time of creativity with many start-ups harnessing the time in lockdown to evolve their brands and we want to help them take the next step with a brick-and-mortar presence and encourage the future entrepreneurs of the area.”

Joe Kennedy, co-founder at Unit London, who recently announced the opening of their new permanent exhibition space, Unit-X in Seven Dials following a number of pop-ups in the area, added: “We are fortunate enough to have a seven-year-long history of pop-up exhibitions in Seven Dials and have experienced first-hand the opportunities it offers to young businesses starting out. This is a fantastic opportunity for any budding business to get a foothold in the heart in one of the greatest cities in the world.”

Applicants have until October 12 to apply for the opportunity. Shaftesbury is stating that brands should only apply if they are ready to commit to an agreed term of two to four weeks to take place between October and December 2020. The brand will need to keep the retail shop open and trading for that period and have sufficient stock. The successful applicant will also be responsible for staffing the shop.

This is the latest initiative from Seven Dials, which also recently implemented timed road closures until the end of the year in the area in partnership with Camden Council, between 10am - 6pm, seven days a week, to ensure safe social distancing.

Images: courtesy of Shaftesbury

Seven Dials