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Launch It Dundee helps diverse range of firms to thrive

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

edited from original article printed in the Courier, Tuesday 25 August 2020.

A woman who produces pet canvases, a handmade clothing brand, a professional make-up artist and an inclusive fashion designer are just some of the diverse range of businesses accessing an enterprise hub in Dundee in its first year.

Clothing by House of Aristocrats, image copyright House of Aristocrats 2020

Launch It Dundee opened in May last year after taking over two floors at Kandahar House in Meadowside. The organisation focuses on supporting young entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 30 through tailored business support, mentoring and access to affordable premises.

There are 16 rooms in the building, which recently reopened after lockdown, and around 50 young entrepreneurs have sought help.

Start-ups include professional make-up artists Ruthless Studios and Capricorn Gray, handmade clothing brand Kaitlyn Bartlett Textiles, inclusive clothing firm Kittiousity that is working towards zero-waste goals, and Beth's Buddies, which utilises digital graphic design techniques to produce pet portraits on canvas.

Other ventures include baking firm 'King Good Cakes and fashion design company House of Aristocrats.

House of Aristocrats' founder, Farrukh, is a former dental student who moved into sustainable fashion design, opening his own company last year to fill what he perceived as a gap in the market for gender-inclusive clothing.

Farrukh, who designs and produces bespoke clothes for a range of clients, said: "I use high-quality, reclaimed materials to create clothing that's not specifically for men or women, but for everyone. It's totally inclusive. My designs allow people to express themselves and love who they are."

Enterprise Manager Shabana Basheer said: "For some young people, their only choice seems to be to go into low-paid employment, but we know that with the right support, there are some remarkable businesses getting off the ground, and that's why Launch It Dundee is so important.

"Businesses don't have to be physically located in the building. We also provide direct support to entrepreneurs who might not need their own premises because of the nature of their business."

Ms Basheer said that one or two of the businesses had paused their plans during the pandemic, but inquiries were already coming in and Launch It are assisting with a number of business plans which will include Covid-19 contingencies.

She said: "We want to keep people in Dundee, but there is a challenge of finding affordable "next step" premises for people who have grown their business and are moving on from Launch It. This is something we hope the Council can help with. "

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