Midsummer market is tree-mendously empowering

FROM upcycled furniture to jewellery, art and uniquely branded women's undies, there is an eclectic mix to browse tomorrow at a midsummer market in Glasgow city centre.

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A showcase for up-and-coming social enterprises based at Beyond The Finish Line in Trongate, the event proves there's more to this part of town than pawn shops and pound stores.

You will have the chance to buy furniture that has been given a new lease of life by Sophie Steele, 28, and Shauna Gray, 27, of Treemendus, or learn how to do the work yourself. The two West Enders, with backgrounds in interior design and textiles, set up their business six months ago.

Now they sell furniture, as well as Annie Sloan chalk paint to those who prefer to do the work on their own.

"We are going to be doing a live upcycle at the midsummer market," says Sophie.

"We want people to give us their opinions and help us choose colours. We're going to get a coffee table and do it up so people can see how it's done."

They set up Tremeendus to encourage more people to recycle and reuse rather than throw away unwanted furniture.

They are happy to take commissions and will have a pop-up shop at the Trongate venue running after the market ends.

"Beyond The Finish Line has been such a great help to us," says Shauna.

"It has really forced us to look at what we are doing in different ways and be objective about our business.

"When we started all our ideas were a bit up in the air, this has allowed us to channel them more productively."

The ethical market by the young entrepreneurs is part of Beyond The Finish Line, a project run by Firstport in connection with Icecream Architecture, which saw 15 social enterprises selected to receive funding, workspace and mentoring.

Sylvia Douglas, 35, set up MsMissMrs in Springburn last November to promote self-care and self-love for girls and women in Glasgow.

With a background working in mental health and learning disabilities, she devised a workbook that is now used in workshops.

"We support women and girls who suffer from low self-worth as a consequence of a difficult experience.

"The feedback has been brilliant with the groups I've been running so far: some girls have gone back to college or back to work and a young woman has got her kids back from being in care," says Sylvia.

TO fund the project, MsMissMrs sells Empowerment Pants, a fun way to get across am important message.

"We work with young women, teaching them about how to gain self confidence and improve decision-making," says Sylvia.

"These are women who have come from really turbulent backgrounds.

"The Empowerment Pants bring in money that is ploughed back into the community."

Early batches of the undies have been made by women in Glasgow and, if sales go up, Sylvia plans to branch out and have them made by self-reliance groups in Glasgow.

Karen McGregor of Firstport, which provides free business support and awards for new social entrepreneurs in Scotland, says she hopes passers-by tomorrow will be curious, come in and find out more.

"The problems of high streets around the UK are well documented in terms of the number of shops closing down," she says.

"We believe the high street has got so much more to offer than just retail, so while there will be things to buy here, we want to show that social enterprises can offer a different experience."

Des Bernie, of Icecream Architecture, which specialises in community design projects, says: "We've been here since February and in that time we've had hundreds of people dropping by, coming into the shop and wondering what's going on.

"That's why we had the idea of the midsummer market."

l Midsummer Market at Beyond The Finish Line, 7 Trongate, Glasgow. Visit www.beyondthefinishline.org.uk

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