Forge: Firing up creative enterprise

A business support programme designed for freelancers, artists, makers, designers, producers, creative micro-enterprises and SMEs in the Blackhorse Lane Creative Enterprise Zone in the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

Forge provided 12 hours of free support to 70 businesses through tailored workshops, 1:1 advice and coaching, and events enabling networking, peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and making new contacts. There were four editions of the programme which took place across 2019 and 2020.

Meet our Forge community

“The programme has made me more engaged and focused on my business, and I’m now connected to other local people and businesses in a way that I could not have achieved alone.”
The ethos behind the Forge programme was to unite creative business together in Waltham Forest and we are passionate about the Forge community continuing on and forging onwards together.
Meet the entire community of Forgers who took part in the programme and find out more about their businesses by clicking here.

What did the Forge programme achieve?


Businesses supported


Hours of 1:1 Business Support


Hours of total Business Support


Workshops delivered


Networking & Making Connections events delivered


Employment opportunities created

When asked as part of our post-programme evaluation, our surveyed participating businesses said that they:

Have more confidence in their skills and the future of their business 0 %

Made useful contacts within the borough of Waltham Forest 0 %

Can successfully take their product or service to market 0 %

Will do more to create a positive social impact in the local community 0 %

Who did the Forge programme support?

We are pleased to share our Forge case studies – a collection of stories focusing on the impact Forge has had on the local creative businesses we worked with.

Case Study One:
Yesenia Thibault-Picazo & IMMATTERS Studio

Meet Yesenia; an interdisciplinary designer and co-founder of IMMATTERS Studio

Yesenia faced similar issues across her two businesses; marketing, planning strategically for growth and prioritising sustainability. Forge gave her the platform to solve these issues and gain some fresh inspiration as an added bonus.

Read the full case study here

Case Study Two:
James UK & Yonder

Meet James Harrison; founder of James UK, a contemporary furniture brand and co-founder of Yonder, a unique co-working and indoor climbing facility

James felt he was running his businesses in a reactive way leaving little time to plan for the long term. Here we take a look at how James turned his businesses around with the help of Forge, enabling him to plan to grow, sustain and develop both businesses.

Read the full case study here

Case Study Three:
Justyna Parzych-Winiarska & Justine Couture London

Meet Justyna Parzych-Winiarska; founder of Justine Couture London, a fashion design company focused on tailored made gowns for weddings

Like many freelance creatives, Justyna’s business started at home which presented challenges for both design capacity and storage. Her aims were to move her business to a studio in order for her to expand her market, team and vision.

Read the full case study here

Case Study Four:
Bruce Saunders & Saunders Seasonings

Meet Bruce Saunders; founder of Saunders Seasonings, a local timber production and wood products business

Bruce found himself facing aversion to financial risk which was preventing expansion of his business. Forge enabled him to understand how to navigate this and realise some incredible earning potential.

Read the full case study here

Case Study Five:
Rozina Louafi & Design72

Meet Rozina Louafi; founder of Design72, a digital design and creative agency

Rozina wanted to drive her agency into a more consultancy based offering, while also building the business to be able to create additional roles within her team. Rozina was able to dramatically transform her offering - and through the beginning COVID-19 too.

Read the full case study here

Case Study Six:
Treea Cracknell & The London Flower Farmer

Meet Treea Cracknell; freelance floral designer and founder of floristry studio, The London Flower Farmer

Making time to create a robust business plan in between the daily running of a business was a tricky balance for Treea. Being within a competitive industry, she wanted to create a 2 year plan to see her business flourish and for her creations to gain traction.

Read the full case study here

Case Study Seven:
Patty, Ali & Sweet Paper Creations

Meet Sweet Paper Creations; a not-for-profit family business with a vision to develop creative, craft workshops to support those with mental health issues

With such a unique selling point and an unknown product in the local market, being clear on communicating the concept of piñatas through marketing and research a target audience was the main necessity for Patty and Ali.

Read the full case study here

Case Study Eight:
Mareike Besch & Mareike Besch Studio

Meet Marieke Besch; founder of a bespoke art & design studio focused on woodblock carving and printing

Like many freelancers working from home, Mareike felt frustrated with not having a studio space to do creative work. Mareike was able to carve a bespoke plan using what was on offer from the Forge programme to expand upon her business.

Read the full case study here

Catch up on stories from throughout the programme

  • Blog

    Meet the Forgers: Q&A with Cat Lim | The Posticherie

    This month we spoke to Cat from The Posticherie, who intricately handcrafts all the hair creations found at the fascinating…

  • Blog

    Meet the Forgers: Q&A with Sam Blunden | Graphic Designer

    This month we spoke to Sam, an Art Director and Graphic Designer based in Waltham Forest. We learn how valuable…

  • Blog

    Meet the Forgers: Q&A with Patty Gurman | Sweet Paper Creations

    July is upon us and what better way to spring into it than to speak with more of our 4th…