glove-factory-studiosThe seeds for Glove Factory Studios, the workspace hub for dynamic small businesses near Bradford on Avon and Bath, were originally sown in West London: Westbourne Park to be precise. In the early 90s, Nick Kirkham, co-founder of Glove, had just finished college; a young designer, working from home, searching for a working space to get his designs off the ground.

In 1994 he and his brother Simon, a fellow designer, found the place. They were given the chance to take on a disused railway warehouse; not just a work area within it, the whole thing. Thinking big, the brothers launched Great Western Studios in August that year as a hub where like-minded people could have their own space to create.

Such was its success, they relaunched Great Western Studios in 2007, this time as a new build. That space is now inhabited by nearly 100 businesses ranging from architects to jewellers, landscape designers to milliners.

Nick was based at Great Western for 15 years and in that time, again alongside his brother and other partners, helped establish further working spaces with the same guidelines and ethos. As he says: ‘Clink Street Studios in Southwark, Westbourne Studios in Portobello, and then Glove Factory Studios have followed on organically from the original Great Western.

‘At each stage of our own creative working life, we have tried to set up a community of like-minded small businesses we want to be around, with the shared facilities appropriate to the time and place.’

Location, location, location

The rural village of Holt, Wiltshire – a civil parish with barely 1500 residents – doesn’t initially seem like the sort of place you’d find tech innovation, but within the thick stone walls of the industrial heritage site of Glove that’s exactly what you’ll find.

GloveFac3    GloveFac4    GloveFac1

Take OJO Solutions for instance, an online and mobile development and consultancy business who are currently working on a cutting edge virtual-learning environment for the Wiltshire Education Authority. Or Discover, a web-based software house, changing the face of surveys and diagnostics, which operate in over 79 countries worldwide.

Not to mention Moonshine, a creative team of experienced web professionals highly focussed on ecommerce solutions, or Tribe, an insight and communications agency currently delivering projects for a range of clients, including Danone, RWE npower, Nectar and Affinity Sutton Housing Group.

“Central to our philosophy is to make the workplace relaxed, enjoyable and well designed”

 

So why Holt? And what is the aim of the Glove Factory? Nick explains: ”I have always felt from the start that working in a cluster of interesting people with a broad range of different skill types makes the overall working atmosphere very empowering – and when I met my wife, moved near Bath and set up home, we didn’t want that to stop.

‘If anything I felt strongly that rural business communities can benefit and need the clustering approach as much as those on the inner cities.

‘Central to our philosophy is to make the workplace relaxed, enjoyable and well designed.

‘We host events and put on our own growing programme of business, networking and social events – all aimed to encourage a network of small businesses and build a dynamic community where people get real benefits of being at work.’

Although a small commute (Holt is situated around 6 miles outside of Bath) what you find when you get there is a gorgeously reconditioned factory space, with stone and brickwork throughout; the exposed beams, precise finish and staggering views across the Wiltshire countryside bringing to mind a Grand Design project.

‘I have always felt from the start that working in a cluster of interesting people with a broad range of different skill types makes the overall working atmosphere very empowering’

 

The facilities

But one cannot run a business by aesthetics alone and, away from fine its fine looks, the Studio is equipped with everything a modern tech business could possibly need: 100Mb fibre broadband with uncontended 80Mb upload and download speeds; a Wi-Fi network around the building and gardens allowing studio holders to access their own server and files from anywhere – with no interference from other networks; and, actually, great food – the award winning Sam’s Kitchen and Deli run the Glove Factory café. Oh, and a 100 bay car park – not quite as exciting but very useful.

As a full convert to this neck of the woods, we’ll leave the last word to Nick. What is it about the South West he loves? ‘It’s the nature of the people that chimes with me; everyone is open to collaboration and innovation is encouraged, there’s a real sense of community. I also love its accessibility to quality open spaces and landscape with good transport links to major cities.’

If you’d like to find out more about their office spaces, workshops or events, contact The Glove Factory directly or on Twitter. And hey, follow us too.

Tom Sandford