Sunderland’s iconic Grade II listed Victorian landmark, Mackies Corner, has welcomed eight new businesses after launching a suite of creative workspace units.
The second phase of the multi-million-pound development has welcomed eight vibrant local businesses to its stunning premises, making a significant step forward in the transformation of the historic site.
The eight businesses, now settled into their uniquely designed spaces on the second floor, are part of ‘The Co.llective’, an innovative concept offering 16 individually crafted workspaces, fostering a ‘dynamic environment that encourages collaboration and innovation.’
With shared breakout spaces, modern amenities, and sizes ranging from 90 to 600sq ft, The Co.llective is quickly becoming a hotspot for creative entrepreneurs and small businesses.
“We are thrilled to unveil The Co.llective and welcome these remarkable businesses as our inaugural occupants,” said Alex Kirtley, managing director of developer, Kirtley Co.
“The project not only rejuvenates a cherished historical site but also ignites a new era of creativity, community, and commerce right at the heart of Sunderland city centre.
“We have now completed our second batch of lettings, including The Dome, Chambers & two more rooms from The Co.llective tenants will be announced soon. Spaces are now limited.”
The communal areas within The Co.llective have been curated by local artists, including Faye Greenman, Kathryn Robertson, Victoria Campbell, Andy Martin, and The Heritage Print Co.
Their contributions have added an artistic flair to the hub, fostering an inspiring atmosphere for businesses and their clients.
Among the businesses that have set up shop in The Co.llective are:
Skullen Collective: Over the past 10 years Skullen has grown from a single desk nail operation in a spare room in Heaton to incorporate two sites with six nail artists, lash techs, brow specialists, tattooists, and piercing services. Also offering aesthetics, tarot readings and even invest in the next generation of nail artists by offering training.
Looking for the right location to expand their HQ, situated on the Quayside in Newcastle, the owners of Skullen were instantly taken with the vision of Kirtley Co.
Director of The Skullen Collective, Andrew Gutierrez, said: “Since the start of the redevelopment of the Vaux site it has been clear that Sunderland has an exciting future, and we are absolutely delighted to be able to play a small part in that.
“With the regeneration of Roker, Seaburn, Sheepfolds and Sunniside there couldn’t be a better time to be moving in to Sunderland and we’ve already been really impressed with the level of interest in Skullen from the people of the city.”
RGB Media: A local creative design agency with a passion for bringing visions to life, specialising in both print and web design.
Adam Wimpenny, Director and Head of Web Development, said: “Moving into The Co.llective has been incredible, and it feels so great to be among so many other fantastic, creative businesses.
“Working in the heart of Sunderland in this historic building is solidifying our commitment to supporting businesses of all sizes in the region.”
The Social Type: A pioneering social media and influencer marketing agency, The Social Type, led by Sunderland entrepreneurs Jessica Taylor-Branton & Victoria Carr, have set up in Room 11 of The Co.llective.
Managing Director, Jessica Taylor-Branton, said: “At The Social Type, we’re all about building relationships with people, developing smart strategies, and unleashing our creative side. Our human approach means we are more flexible, insightful, creative, and authentic, ultimately delivering better results.”
Aesthetics by Hannah: Established in 2022, Aesthetics by Hannah is a Nurse-led private clinic providing holistic cosmetic procedures, focusing on skin health and injectables.
Director of Aesthetics by Hannah, Hannah Dodds has a high level of medical experience, having worked in the NHS for over 9 years after studying a nursing degree, postgraduate diploma, and master’s degree.
Hannah said: “Moving into the Co.llective has been nothing but a smooth transition. The team at Kirtley Co have taken the time to learn and understand the needs of Aesthetics by Hannah and have been very accommodating with alterations to the Clinic to ensure safety and hygiene standards are met within the business.
“Being a local girl watching the ongoing developments in Sunderland is really exciting and something I want to be involved in. I always knew that I wanted to open a clinic in Sunderland but never found the right location. Being in the heart of the city means a lot to me, it’s not only super accessible for all clients but it’s great to be in the centre amongst the hussle and bustle.”
The Art Room: Kerry Cook, an accomplished art teacher, has established The Art Room in her space at Mackies Corner. The space promises to be a haven for creative expression where people of all ages and backgrounds can learn and be inspired.
Kerry said: “I am an art teacher with nearly 20 years’ experience, and I chose to move my studio to Mackie’s Corner due to the beautiful restoration of this iconic building in the heart of my city centre.
“I love the history and heritage of this part of the city centre and so do my clients. It suits the workshops and arty parties that I host at The Art Room and adds a real unique aspect to the whole experience.”
Soul Bride: Specialising in quirky wedding dresses for the alternative bride, Soul Bride provides stunning wedding dresses for every look, from bohemian to rock chic brides.
“Our dresses are made with individually chosen ethically sourced fabrics and 100% soul. You are unlikely to find a dress like this anywhere else. So, if you want something special for your day, look no further. We’ve got you,” said owner Gemma Coates.
Studio by YOTN: An inclusive Yoga, Pilates and movement studio offering group classes, workshops, and holistic therapies in a welcoming, fun and non-intimidating space, has moved into Room 4 of the Co.llective.
Louise Stott, owner of Studio YOTN, said: “When I started looking for a space to share my classes and treatments, I had no intention of a city centre studio. But from the first second Alex showed me around I fell in love. I feel so lucky to be part of such a gorgeous restoration project and to share a space with such wonderful local businesses.”
Sensel Studio: Sensel Studio is a media production company which was founded in London eight years ago and has worked on major productions from blockbuster movies such as Murder on the Orient Express, to live events, Amazon and Netflix series and concerts.
Chris Simcock, Founding Director of Sensel Studio, said: “We wanted a cool, rustic, boujee space. We didn’t want a corporate office space with white light, so Mackie’s Corner was a breath of fresh air.
“It has a real sense of history, and we loved the idea of a collective and all the neighbouring studios we’ve met are of a similar mindset. They’re creative. It feels like a collective of creative free spirits but all who are keen to grow their interests commercially and give back to the community.”
One of the most remarkable spaces within The Co.llective is the basement, offering a unique area spanning 2630sq ft. The space with its stone walls, cobbled floors, and hidden archways is an impressive and flexible setting, with a vision to create a reformer Pilates studio in the future.
The Victorian landmark situated on Bridge Street has undergone a remarkable transformation thanks to Sunderland-based firm Kirtley Co.
The Grade II listed building, which had fallen into disrepair, is now home to an eclectic mix of creative and retail businesses, providing a major boost to the city’s high street.
Cllr Kevin Johnston, Portfolio Holder for Dynamic City, said: “The continued transformation of Mackies Corner into a vibrant hub for local businesses is a testament to Sunderland’s exciting future.
“The addition of The Co.llective and the innovative businesses it houses underscores our commitment to attracting more businesses into the heart of Sunderland city centre and the key role the Business Investment Team do in enabling that.”
To learn more about Sunderland as a place to do business, visit: https://www.mysunderland.co.uk/business-and-investment