Winning the EEUK Richard Beresford Bursary & visiting UAL ‘not just a shop’
Back in the Summer of 2021, I was luck enough to be awarded a Richard Beresford Bursary from Enterprise Educators UK (EEUK). As an Enterprise Skills Advisor within the Student Ventures team at UWE, I had spent two years working closely with students and alumni who had an interest in enterprise or plans to be self-employed, start up founders or freelancers once they graduated. Although I work across all faculties, I have always had a special interest and previous experience working with students studying or working in a creative field, the arts or developing product businesses. In 2019 I had attended the annual AGCAS conference, where I heard Richard Sant, Head of Careers and Employability at University Arts London (UAL) deliver a session on the launch of ‘not just a shop’, a physical and online shop where the public, fellow students and staff could purchase products created by UAL students and alumni.
As a previous product business owner, I was inspired by this opportunity and in a ‘post’ Covid world, two years later, I used the Richard Beresford Bursary to pay for travel and hotel costs, allowing me to visit ‘not just a shop’ and meet with UAL Enterprise & Events Manager, Vicky Fabbri, to talk through how the team planned, launched and now run the shop.
The visit was a fantastic opportunity to browse some incredible student and alumni products and visit the dynamic space, in person. The shop itself is beautifully kitted out, with furniture designed and window displays designed by students. The space, as well as a shop, can be used for lectures, events and with it’s own desk pod, for enterprise 121 appointments with the team. I realised upon visiting, it is far more than ‘just a shop’ — I guess the clue was in the name!
Visiting ‘not just a shop’ was very inspiring, it gave me an insight into the real life ways in which we could be supporting our students and alumni with product businesses. I learnt the ways in which the UAL team select products, run the behind the scenes logistical side of things and how they have pivoted and adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was eye opening to hear how much time, planning and resource went into the launch, prior to opening, and the collaborative and multi disciplinary nature of how the shop is run including the way in which the shop runs alongside enterprise in the curriculum activity with live briefs and course projects. Vicky was incredibly helpful, and was generous enough to share what the team has learnt over the years, the potential threats or hurdles they faced as well as the surprising opportunities and huge positives.
Since meeting with the UAL team, I have since been in discussions with the UWE Student Ventures team and wider UWE teams to discuss how we can start to plan and run our own student shop MVP either on campus or online. The insights UAL gave me, have boosted my confidence in knowing what to expect, the realities of what running the shop would look like and the wide-ranging benefits to the whole University, that it could provide, as well as providing me with a fantastic and helpful contact in Vicky Fabbri.
A big thank you to EEUK for awarding me the Richard Beresford Bursary and to Vicky and the enterprise team at UAL for allowing me to visit your wonderful store.
- Gabi Cox, Enterprise Skills Advisor @ Student Ventures, UWE