Start-up funding

Funding for your start-up can appear complex. We offer advice and tips from entrepreneurs, plus a summary of the legal and financial obligations to investors.

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retailENTERPRISE supports individuals in their journey to become the next generation of fashion retail entrepreneurs.

In partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) and Hammerson, the initiative supports GCU undergraduates, postgraduates and alumni who have an early stage business idea and want to learn how to set up their own retail business.

Each individual that applies has the opportunity to secure a scholarship to attend a postgraduate business related course at GCU. The individual will pitch to a panel of leading figures in retail for a share of the £30,000 seed investment and trial their business concept with free pop-up space across any Hammerson shopping centre.

Hear from our beneficiaries

Emma Russell

Emma Russell, pplrstrange and The Social Butterfly

Seed funding was the catalyst which kick-started Emma’s fledgling business, pplrstrange, a creative online platform specialising in fashion and emerging brands in Scotland and beyond. Emma’s ambition earned her two awards of seed funding as well as support via the retailTRUST elevator mentoring programme which enabled the business to raise its profile and gain traction through brand marketing, professional photoshoots and various pop-up events. Emma, who was a finalist at the 2019 RBS Great British Entrepreneur Awards, has seen her business go from strength to strength as a result of this significant boost.

Emma has been able to expand her business by providing creative marketing for small and local businesses, and is enjoying running innovative photoshoots, events and networking with her new clients and their audiences. Her new venture The Social Butterfly, a social media and creative agency, has taken off is now her full-time job.

“As a new business, this funding has had such a great impact. I am so thankful for this experience and all the support I have been given so far. It has really given me confidence and the push I need with my business. It’s such a great feeling when others have faith in your ideas.”

“Without the support from retailTRUST, I wouldn't have another business which is taking off and I wouldn't have ever got to where I am now. The funding helped me get into events and pop-ups, something I never thought I'd do and something I love now and help others with. The experience from all my talks, events and collaborations with pplrstrange has helped my new sub-brand run things for big brands in Scotland. The funding helped me rebrand, grow my followers, pay for professional shoots and get my foot into the London School of Styling.”

Emma received seed funding in 2018 that allowed her to develop and launch her own creative agency and fashion brand ‘pplrstrange’. To help grow and evolve her business, Emma received mentoring support via the retailTRUST elevator programme and was partnered with Mervyn Metcalf.

Find out more about our elevator mentoring programme and how you can apply.

“I would like to thank retailTRUST, Hammerson and GCU for awarding me with this funding. The grant will enable me to grow my business quicker than anticipated. I really appreciate the faith that you have put in to me and my business idea, it honestly means the world.”

“I got into fashion because it is creative and exciting. But, starting out on your own is scary, particularly in retail. I feel lucky to have had the support from retailTRUST, Hammerson and GCU. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for you. I’ve always been motivated and hardworking but your funding, advice and belief in me and my concept was the stepping stone I needed to make my dream a reality. I honestly can’t thank you enough. Knowing that retailTRUST, thanks to the support of the sector itself, is giving young start-ups like me a helping hand is unbelievable and it is a very special programme. I am proud and honoured to be part of it.”

Georgia Barr

Georgia Barr, MSc Fashion Business Creation (London)

Georgia, a retailTRUST scholarship recipient studying Fashion Business Creation, graduates with distinction in her Master’s degree. Her scholarship enabled her to excel academically while progressing her entrepreneurial ambitions through her sustainable fashion company Offcut Clothing (@offcutclothing), which creates garments made from waste fabrics otherwise destined for landfill. Georgia has been kept busy during the pandemic making and selling face coverings including as part of a collaboration with another fashion brand, donating one to charity for every one bought to the charity Community Fridge in Dundee.

“As soon as I heard about my scholarship I found a flat through SpareRoom and packed the biggest suitcase in my house! Without my scholarship I wouldn’t have been able to make this move and study at GCU London, progress my business ideas or even have access to the most up to date information about how the pandemic is affecting the fashion industry.”

“Although the pandemic has created an uncertain future for SMEs and the fashion industry, it has provided Offcut Clothing with an opportunity to help the community through donations of face coverings to those in need. The feedback I have received from customers concerning the community values of the brand has been extremely positive and I can't wait to see how I can take this to the next level. Thank you for providing me with the chance to not only further my education but to grow my business Offcut Clothing, and hopefully make a difference in the world of fashion.”

Amanda and emily

Amanda Graham and Emily Ross

Amanda and Emily took their sustainable swimwear business to the next level thanks to seed funding from retailTRUST and Hammerson. Their innovative brand, SKYA, features ethically manufactured products made from regenerated nylon and post-consumer waste found in the ocean, while its social media platforms educate customers on sustainable fashion and promote body confidence. Seed funding enabled the GCU graduates to set up a website and invest in sustainable packaging, successfully launching their first collection. Although the pandemic has impacted orders in recent months, SKYA is confidently preparing for the launch of its second collection in 2021.

“We have always wanted to be entrepreneurs and thanks to the award, our dreams are becoming a reality. The seed funding has played a hugely significant part in helping to market our brand, and this has helped us gain more exposure and ultimately increased our consumers. We have also expanded our range of colours and designs allowing us to appeal to a wider audience. We want to say a huge thank you to retailTRUST and Hammerson for helping to give our business the push it needed and for believing in us and our brand concept.”

Samantha Newell

Samantha Newell, Yard + Parish

Samantha had the vision for her business but lacked financial backing to make it a reality. Seed funding gave her the early traction she desperately needed for her heritage brand Yard + Parish. Inspired by her desire to access high quality, ethical products from African countries, the GCU graduate partnered with her cousin Alesha to establish the business. The award enabled her to launch an online shopping platform offering Black-owned eco-luxe fashion, beauty and lifestyle products which are either handmade or produced in small batches by independent artisans. The array of brands tell inspiring stories steeped in tradition with many specialising in style solutions for darker skin tones.

“Being awarded seed funding has given my career a kick-start, and provided the brand with early-stage traction. Without the support from retailTRUST I would have been at ground zero scrambling for ideas on how to get funding to get this going! It’s been an amazing journey so far. As Black-female founders, we have experienced the challenges of building a sustainable business in the face of systemic discrimination. As entrepreneurs and as customers, we understand exactly what it feels like to be an afterthought. Now more than ever, we encourage consumers to consciously make an effort to support Black-owned brands. There’s a misconception that Black-owned means ‘only suitable for Black people,’ which is simply untrue.”

“The pandemic has thrown up challenges but through our collection of self-care and homeware brands, we’ve been able to provide products that promote health and happiness at home. While we’ve decided to take a break from connecting with our community in-person, we’ve become more engaged online and try to create meaningful virtual experiences with our audience. We've had to get really creative which is not necessarily a bad thing.”

“Thank you retailTRUST for your financial contribution towards the start-up of Yard + Parish.”


Ciandra Birnbaum, MSc Fashion and Lifestyle Marketing (London)

Ciandra is a fashion blogger with her own social media platform ‘Love Ciandra’.

“I have worked hard to be where I am now and I am so appreciative that I am able to further my development doing a postgraduate degree at GCU in September. Without your help I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to complete this programme to the same ability I will be able to now. I will use all the help and guidance offered and I just want to say a massive thank you again. Can’t wait to start in September!”


Olivia Speirs, BA (Hons) International Fashion Branding (Glasgow)

School leaver Olivia aims to secure a role as a fashion buyer when she graduates.

“I am writing to thank you for your generosity in funding the retailTRUST scholarship, which I was thrilled to learn I have been chosen as a recipient for. I am currently awaiting my SQA exam results, before I go on and study International Fashion Branding, which has been a huge passion of mine for many years. After graduating from GCU I plan to pursue a career as a fashion buyer, allowing me to give back to the industry itself. Thanks to you, this scholarship will allow me to put all my effort and concentration into my studies meaning I can reach my full potential throughout university, also giving me the boost I need into the fashion industry. Thank you again for your generosity and support.”


Katie Knight, BA (Hons) Fashion Design with Business (Glasgow)

School leaver Katie has aspirations to work as a designer for a leading fashion brand.

“I was absolutely delighted to receive the email informing me that I had been selected to receive a full retailTRUST scholarship. Thank you so much for believing in me, and for awarding the financial assistance to help see me through my years at university and on my way to the career of my dreams. I can assure you of my personal commitment to make the most of every opportunity and apply myself fully to my studies.”

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