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Robert Gordon University entrepreneur sets up initiative to boost business in the North East

By Ewan Malcolm

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AN Aberdeen based entrepreneur has launched an initiative to help boost business in the North East.

Alison Shearer set up the initiative to boost business across the North East.
Alison Shearer set up the initiative to boost business across the North East.

Alison Shearer, from Robert Gordon University's Creative Entrepreneurship Programme, has set up 'Shop Small Aberdeen' to connect local craftspeople across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

Since starting at the end of July, the scheme has attracted almost 40 small businesses from across the North East.

And, after a careful selection process, 20 have been selected to be part of ‘Shop Small Aberdeen’ community.

Alison, who works full time as a Senior Engineer in Operations in oil and gas, has her own print making company 'Mint Lino Prints' which is also part of the initiative.

Over the past few years, she has established a ‘side hustle’ to her engineering career and completed creative short courses, run her own photography business and even self-published a children’s picture book.

After doing RGU’s Creative Entrepreneurship course, Alison said she wanted to take her small business to the next level and attributes much of her success and confidence in setting up ‘Shop Small Aberdeen’ to the programme.

Alison said: “RGU’s Creative Entrepreneurship Programme has been very inspiring for me and is extremely well structured. I finished each session buzzing with ideas of things to follow up on with my own business and loved meeting a group of like-minded creative individuals.

“It not only massively boosted my confidence but pushed me out my comfort zone. I’ve felt more able to post videos online and this has really helped me engage with my customers. It really covers all aspects of a creative business and is so helpful at making you consider things which you probably had overlooked.

“The fact that the course is fully funded is also amazing. It’s a fantastic opportunity and really is a great course. I have taken so much away from it would definitely recommend it to anyone with a small creative business.

“The course has been a huge support and inspired me to start Shop Small Aberdeen.

"I really believe in community over competition and that in the creative industries collaboration is so important. The aim of Shop Small Aberdeen is to showcase a curated selection of local makers and to champion and support one another to grow together. The network also provides buyers somewhere to find great local small businesses offering fantastic handmade products. Shop Small Aberdeen is good for the planet and great for your conscience.”

Sally Charles, Learning Manager from RGU’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group (EIG), said: “I am delighted that the Creative Entrepreneurship Programme has provided inspiration to Alison and given her the confidence to grow her business, Mint Lino Prints and to establish ‘Shop Small Aberdeen’. RGU is committed to creating a vibrant culture of enterprise across the region and the Creative Entrepreneurship Programme offers a unique, fully funded opportunity to small businesses in the creative sector.

“Alison’s new network ‘Shop Small Aberdeen’ highlights what can be done to connect creative practitioners across the North East and offers an alternative way of doing business for small business owners across the region.”

The programme is open to recent graduates or existing business owners who may be individuals, sole-traders, freelancers and small company owners, who want to take their business to the next level.

The Creative Entrepreneurship short-course is delivered in partnership between Look Again, which is Gray’s School of Art's creative unit and RGU’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation Group (EIG).

The course, which has run since 2019 has so far had 120 participants across six cohorts. It is funded by the Scottish Funding Council’s Upskilling fund and is open to eligible applicants who live anywhere in Scotland.

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