Two exciting new businesses will start work in Brixton in May.
Gabriella Lafor’s Line Stream video streaming service and textile designer Coco Cripps’ alternative cycling clothing company will operate from The Department Store Studios.
The new studios are designed by architects Squire & Partners with their headquarters on Ferndale Road.
Coco and Gabriella are winners of the studios’ inaugural residency programme that provides free year-long membership for two young Lambeth entrepreneurs to start and grow their creative idea.
This includes desk membership, mentoring and access to amenities, including a screening room, members’ lounge and fully serviced social and meeting areas.
Residency winners also have the opportunity to be part of a programme of events to share skills, inspire creativity and expand local networks.
The two were selected from a shortlist of six applicants after virtual presentations to a panel from Squire & Partners and The Department Store Studios, including guest judges Binki Taylor from The Brixton Project and artist Azarra Amoy.
The panel was looking for creative and committed plans to grow a fledgling business or social initiative, and willingness to be an active part of The Studios’ community.
Judges said they were “blown away” by Gabriella Lafor’s innovative blockchain model and clear business plan for Line Stream.
The start-up is a creative response to the acute issues of under-representation of minority groups in the television industry.
As a platform for Black- and Brown-orientated experiences, the streaming service is designed to build an ecosystem to champion sustainable media careers for Black British talent and create long-lasting change in the industry
It will work with a a network of grassroots organisations and industry partners, creating fresh cultural content, new opportunities and skill sharing programmes.
Brixton resident Coco Cripps inspired the panel with her ambition to bring stylish and sustainable cycle-wear to the masses.
A textile design graduate of Central Saint Martins, Coco was weary of the male-centric and Lycra-heavy world of bike attire.
She believes there is a niche for innovative cyclewear which is beautiful and visible.
She began experimenting with knitted reflective material using sustainable yarn for cyclists who do not want to conform to the conventional image of a cyclist.
Coco will look to develop her designs – currently at prototype stage – marketing and production strategy during her residency, and test-run her garments on The Studios’ cycle community
Two runners-up will also get support from the studios.
Xavier Laurent Leopold / Xavi Art
Self-taught artist Xavier crams into his spare time what many might see as a full-time job.
Drawing inspiration from lived experiences, Xavier launched onto the art world as Xavi Art in 2020 with his first solo exhibition at OXO Tower.
With a strong focus on social and mental health issues in young people, Xavi Art has raised funds for Black Minds Matter UK through exhibitions, talks and workshops in schools.
Judges said Xavi’s infectious enthusiasm for how art can impact communities and spark important conversations inspired them to support Xavier through hosted events and collaboration.
Louisa Payne / Brixton Wine Club
The judges loved Brixton Wine Club’s fledgling model – already featured by the Blog – to disrupt the world of wine tasting from its stuffy roots to a fun and experimental format based firmly in Brixton.
Louisa’s energy and enthusiasm shone through, they said, as well as her commitment to sustainability, supporting wine start-ups and social initiatives.
Her ambitious plan to bring Brixton Wine Club to streets and doorsteps across the UK, and even globally, gave us the idea that The Studios could collaborate on events and tastings together.
Designed and developed by Squire & Partners, The Department Store Studios is a new local workspace, launching in May as a platform for business in Brixton.
It will offer beautifully designed private studios and flexible workspaces.
The Studios will also be home to a neighbourhood bar, restaurant and screening room.