Spotlight on Narture

Posted: 23 April 2024, in Member Spotlight

Come meet Narture CIC in our latest member spotlight. Narture CIC is an award-winning Sourdough Bakery and Creative Space in the centre of Ayr that reinvests its profits into creative projects. We spoke to Saskia Jae Singer, Co-founder/Lead Artist and Curator to find out more about what they do, their plans for the year ahead and top tips for social entrepreneurs.

Tell us about Narture CIC, what do you do? 

Narture CIC, founded in June 2020 was set up during the COVID-19 pandemic by artist father and daughter team Robert and Saskia Singer. The project evolved from initially occupying empty town centre spaces and re-purposing them for cultural and creative uses. Nurturing a thriving and successful social enterprise, where ‘everyone is an artist and encouraged to use their creative energies towards positive change. Narture’s ultimate goal is to become a truly inclusive creative hive, making participatory cultural activities available to all members of society.

Narture’s award winning Sourdough Bakery and acclaimed Artisan Café, are currently the main income generators of the social enterprise. The bakery specialises in handmade sourdough produce, baked daily; championing sustainable, healthy ingredients, supporting local businesses and was recently awarded Bread Bakery of the Year by Prestige Scotland for the third year running. As part of their social purpose, they also donate produce to local food banks.

Narture’s objective is to re-invest all surplus profits into creative projects, as an instigator of town centre regeneration. Narture Studios and Make at 34 & 30 Newmarket Street is home to 7 local artists, community dark room and Riso printer. The space hosts a shop selling local makers wares, exhibitions, events, workshops, and talks based on Narture’s three core pillars of Food, Creativity and Wellbeing.

How do you do it? 

To accomplish our goals as a social enterprise, we adopt a multifaceted approach that encompasses various aspects of our operations, including our client group, practical daily work, and interactions with customers:

  1. Client Group: We serve a diverse client group that includes individuals, businesses, and organisations within our local community. Our client base may consist of artists, creatives, local residents, businesses seeking ethical suppliers, community groups, and more. Understanding the needs and preferences of our client group is essential for tailoring our services and offerings to best serve them.
  1. Practical Daily Work: Our daily activities involve a combination of bakery operations, artistic endeavours, community engagement, and administrative tasks. This may include baking fresh goods, sourcing ingredients from local suppliers, organising art exhibitions and workshops, collaborating with community partners, managing finances and logistics, and engaging with customers through various channels.
  1. Customers: Our customers are at the heart of everything we do. We strive to provide them with high-quality products, unique experiences, and exceptional service that aligns with our values and mission. We prioritise building strong relationships with our customers, listening to their feedback, and responding to their needs to ensure their satisfaction and loyalty.

Overall, our approach involves a holistic integration of business, creativity, and community engagement, guided by our commitment to social impact and sustainability. By aligning our efforts with the needs and interests of our client group, carrying out practical daily work that advances our mission, and prioritising customer satisfaction, we aim to create meaningful and lasting positive change in our community.

Why should someone buy/use your product/services? What are the benefits and what makes your organisation unique? 

Our artisan café is a beloved spot among locals, renowned for offering wholesome, handcrafted food and beverages alongside a diverse selection of locally sourced delicacies from esteemed producers like Mossgiel Milk, Blackthorn Salt, and Grain and Grind Coffee. Guided by our core values of Creativity, Sustainability, and Wellbeing, we prioritize ethical practices in every aspect of our business. For instance, we prioritize sourcing from environmentally conscious suppliers to minimize our carbon footprint. Furthermore, we are committed to fair employment practices, ensuring that all our staff receive a living wage, while also providing opportunities for arts students and graduates to gain valuable experience.

Not only do we prioritize providing quality products, but we also take pride in our contributions to the community. Through partnerships with these local businesses, we actively support food banks and provide employment opportunities, enriching the fabric of our neighbourhood.

At the heart of our operation are Narture Studios and Make gallery, located at 34 and 30 Newmarket Street, respectively. Narture Studios serves as a creative hub for seven resident artists, offering artists studio spaces and facilitating workshops in mediums like darkroom photography and Risograph printing. Additionally, our spaces are open for community use, hosting events for various organisations, from local clubs to healthcare institutions and business chambers. Make gallery acts as a platform for local artists to exhibit and sell their work, fostering both artistic expression and economic growth in Ayr town centre..

In the four years since our establishment, we have made significant strides in revitalising Ayr town centre. However, our journey is far from over. Moving forward, we aim to expand our Sourdough Bakery into our new food and arts venue SHAPE, repurposing more vacant properties in the area. Through extensive consultation with the community, we have identified a growing demand for diverse cultural activities and additional services, further positioning us as a unique and indispensable asset to Ayr’s cultural landscape.

What’s your personal motivation? 

My personal motivation springs from a lifelong passion for the arts and a profound understanding of the challenges faced by creatives in sustaining themselves financially. Growing up with my artist father, I was fully immersed in a world where creativity was highly esteemed but often struggled to find its footing in the conventional job market. Throughout my academic journey in fine art and beyond, I relied on hospitality work to financially support myself, following a similar path to that of my father.

Recognising the necessity to bridge the divide between our artistic aspirations and financial security, my father and I embarked on a quest to blend our artistic talents with our hospitality skills. By amalgamating our primary and auxiliary skills of food and arts, we aimed to generate income that could finance our creative pursuits. This venture has not only proven successful within our local community but has also earned recognition beyond its borders.

The drive to empower artists and establish a sustainable model for pursuing artistic passions continues to propel me forward. Witnessing the positive impact our efforts have had on individuals and the community fuels my commitment to this cause. Ultimately, my personal motivation lies in cultivating an environment where creativity flourishes, supported by a foundation of financial stability and community involvement.

What is the current focus for your social enterprise? 

Our current focus for the social enterprise is centred on expanding our bakery operations to generate more income. This increased revenue will enable us to undertake a wider array of creative projects, including hosting additional exhibitions, offering more accessible workshops, and organizing events that seamlessly blend food and art. By bolstering our bakery, we aim to create a sustainable financial foundation that supports our artistic endeavours and enhances our community engagement efforts.

What exciting things do you have coming up?

We have several exciting developments on the horizon! Firstly, we’re thrilled to announce our plans to collaborate with local artists and artisans to curate a series of immersive art experiences, blending various mediums with culinary delights. These events will offer unique opportunities for our community to engage with art in dynamic and interactive ways.

Additionally, we’re looking forward to expanding our partnerships with local businesses and organizations that share our values and vision. We aim to forge deeper connections with like-minded individuals and groups who are passionate about fostering creativity, sustainability, and community well-being.

In the coming months, we also have plans to launch a series of inclusive workshops and events designed to make art more accessible to everyone in our community, regardless of background or experience level. Through these initiatives, we hope to inspire creativity, foster connections, and create meaningful experiences for all participants.

Overall, we’re excited about the possibilities that lie ahead and are eager to continue collaborating with a diverse range of partners to bring our creative vision to life.

What’s your biggest challenge? 

Our biggest challenge currently revolves around striking a balance between sustaining our business financially while also remaining true to our core values and mission. As we aim to expand our bakery operations to fund more creative projects and community initiatives, we must navigate the complexities of growth without compromising on our commitment to ethical practices, environmental sustainability, and social responsibility.

Additionally, we face the ongoing challenge of managing resources effectively and efficiently, especially as we seek to increase our impact within the community. This entails finding innovative ways to optimize our operations, maximize revenue streams, and allocate resources wisely to support both our business goals and our broader social and artistic objectives.

Furthermore, as we strive to foster collaboration and inclusivity, we encounter the challenge of ensuring that our initiatives are accessible and welcoming to all members of our community. This involves addressing barriers to participation, promoting diversity and inclusion, and actively engaging with stakeholders to co-create solutions that meet the diverse needs and interests of our community members.

Overall, while these challenges may be daunting at times, they also present opportunities for growth, learning, and innovation. By approaching them with creativity, resilience, and a commitment to our values, we believe that we can overcome these obstacles and continue to make a positive impact in our community.

Where do you see your organisation in 5 years? 

In five years, we envision our organization as a thriving hub of creativity, sustainability, and community engagement, firmly established as a cornerstone of our local cultural landscape. We aspire to have expanded our bakery operations successfully, providing a solid financial foundation that supports our continued growth and enables us to fund an even broader range of creative projects and initiatives.

Our bakery will have evolved into a beloved community institution, renowned not only for its delicious offerings but also for its commitment to ethical sourcing, environmental sustainability, and social impact. We aim to have developed a loyal customer base and established strong partnerships with local suppliers, artists, and organizations, further solidifying our role as a catalyst for positive change in our community.

In addition to our bakery, we envision our organization as a vibrant centre for artistic expression and community collaboration, hosting regular exhibitions, workshops, and events that bring people together and inspire creativity. We hope to have expanded our reach and impact, engaging with an even broader cross-section of our community and serving as a beacon of inspiration and empowerment for aspiring artists and creatives.

Furthermore, we see ourselves playing an active role in the revitalisation of our local area, contributing to the economic and social development of our community while preserving its unique character and heritage. Through our continued efforts, we aim to create a more inclusive, sustainable, and vibrant community where everyone has the opportunity to thrive and contribute to the flourishing of arts and culture.

Overall, in five years, we envision our organisation funding food and arts as a dynamic force for positive change, deeply rooted in our community and dedicated to fostering creativity, sustainability, and well-being for all.

What top tips would you give to other social enterprises? 

As a social enterprise, we’ve learned valuable lessons along our journey that we’re eager to share with others embarking on similar paths. Here are some top tips based on our experiences:

  1. Clarify your mission: Start by defining a clear and compelling mission statement that articulates the social or environmental impact you aim to achieve. Your mission should serve as a guiding light, informing every decision and action your enterprise takes.
  1. Build strong partnerships: Forge meaningful partnerships with like-minded individuals, organisations, and businesses who share your values and can support your mission. Collaborating with others can amplify your impact and help you reach new audiences.
  1. Prioritise sustainability: Integrate sustainability into every aspect of your operations, from sourcing materials to managing waste. Adopt environmentally friendly practices wherever possible to minimize your ecological footprint and demonstrate your commitment to sustainability.
  1. Listen to your community: Actively engage with your community to understand their needs, preferences, and aspirations. Solicit feedback, involve stakeholders in decision-making processes, and co-create solutions that address real-world challenges.
  1. Be adaptable and resilient: The journey of a social enterprise is rarely linear, and you’re bound to encounter obstacles along the way. Stay flexible, embrace change, and approach challenges as opportunities for growth and learning.

For more information about Narture CIC, please visit their website and make sure to follow them on Facebook, Instagram and X/Twitter to keep updated with their work.

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