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Grant helps put new set-up in the picture

Posted onPosted on 8th Jul

A start-up commercial photography business is going from strength to strength after receiving business support from Mansfield District Council.

f22 Studios was set up in January by two experienced photographers after they were made redundant from Wilkos last year — and John Cleland and Kenneth Lau are so busy that they are already planning to expand.

John said: “The business has got off to a great start and there is plenty of work for us. Fortunately our previous work means we have access to a pool of experienced photographers, stylists, retouchers, and set builders, who we can call on as freelancers during busy times, which has allowed us to take careful, balanced decisions about expansion.”

The team are already looking at taking on additional staff from August, and are in talks with their landlords regarding expanding the studio size.

Having spent more than 16 years photographing Wilkos products, the duo joined forces as business partners to offer their services and expertise primarily on a business-to-business level.

The company name, f22, refers to the largest aperture available on most professional camera lenses, which allows the image taken to have maximum focus.

Among customers and potential clients are Center Parcs, Shirebrook-based Frasers Group (formerly Sports Direct), ITAB Group, and Global Brands. John and Kenneth are also in discussions with Unipart.

The partners drew on former Wilkos colleagues, who had moved on to other employers, to build their business. Now they have so much work that they already plan to expand from their premises, an industrial unit at Mansfield’s Millenium Business Park.

A keystone of support in establishing the enterprise was a new business grant from the council. The £2,500 boost enabled the pair to invest in lighting equipment to help give them the best possible start.

Coun Stuart Richardson, portfolio holder for Regeneration and Growth, said: “Vibrant start-ups like this are a vital part of Mansfield’s economy and exactly the kind of ventures that the council business grants aim to help.

“There is still some money in this pot so we urge eligible businesses to get in touch.”

Ken added: “We learned about the grants being offered by the council and, after researching further, applied for the business start-up grant, which was matched funded up to £2,500.

“We were really grateful for the help we received from the council regeneration team in making the application.

“As well as lighting equipment we were also able to use the grant to buy an infra-red heating system for the unit, both of which have had a dramatic effect on how we work.”

More details about Mansfield District Council support available to businesses is at, or email [email protected] or calling the regeneration team on 01623 463499.