Designing success in The Mitchell Library
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Designing success in The Mitchell Library

Two graphic designers from Glasgow have taken the plunge and started their own business after receiving free digital skills training at Google’s Digital Garage in The Mitchell Library.

Lisa Henderson and Laura Service, both 27, first met as students whilst studying at Edinburgh’s College of Art. 

Keen to work together, the duo began embarking on projects outside of their full-time jobs, including screen prints for sportswear, winning themselves an endowment grant last year from American company ‘Print All Over Me.’

Last October, they noticed that Google had opened a pop-up ‘Digital Garage’ at the Mitchell Library, delivered in partnership with Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council, offering free digital skills training and one-to-one mentoring support. 

Curious to learn more, the duo headed along to see what was on offer. Within a few sessions they both felt so inspired by what could be achieved they made the decision to leave their permanent jobs and start out on their own.

Lisa explains: "Google’s Digital Garage was just around the corner from where we worked so we decided to check it out to see if it could be of any use," explained Lisa.

"It proved to be invaluable.

"We were amazed at how simple learning effective online marketing could be and it really showed us how we could promote our skills as designers in our own right and start working on our own projects.

"With a change in our digital strategy and new insights into attracting potential customers, we felt inspired to take the risk and go out on our own.

"It’s paid off – we have already won our first client and have been commissioned to design the whole immersive brewery tour experience at West on the Green!”

Google’s ‘Digital Garage’ initiative has enjoyed previous successes in other cities including Cardiff, Leeds, Birmingham and Newcastle, and is part of a multi-million pound investment outside of London offering everyone in the UK five free hours of digital training. 

This also supports the Government’s own digital strategy, announced this week, that supports digital skills training to millions of individuals and businesses by 2020.

Lisa added: “Encouragement from Google helped us have the courage to establish ilka as a new competitor in a busy market.

"Our ultimate dream is to open the first dedicated design exhibition space and studio in Glasgow and we now feel we’re one step closer to achieving this.”

Andrew Olney, Head of Libraries and Communities, Glasgow Life said: “Glasgow is home to thousands of innovative and creative entrepreneurs and small business owners. But in order to succeed we know that many small business owners, like Lisa, have to quickly become experts in a whole number of disciplines, from budgeting to marketing and communications, and sometimes the online world can seem like a very daunting place when you’re starting out. 

“I’m delighted that we’ve been able to create opportunities for the people of Glasgow to access these free training workshops in The Mitchell Library.”

Anyone in Glasgow who wants to improve their digital skills can visit and sign up for workshops until the end of March 2017. The Digital Garage is also available online at  

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