A MARKET scheme to help retail businesses get off the ground has signed up four enterprising women.

Curve Clothing; Soap and Soul; Cosy Craft Spot and Cinderella’s Boutique are all trading from Middleton Grange’s Indoor Market in Hartlepool, as part of the Grow Your Own Retailer scheme – and there is an opportunity for two more firms to take part in the scheme.

The initiative, which is supported by Hartlepool Borough Council’s Enterprise Team and Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, provides a stall at the indoor market rent-free for six months, along with on-going business mentoring and support from retail and marketing experts.

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Andrea Miles, manager of Hartlepool Enterprise Centre, said the scheme was a great way for entrepreneurs to test their business ideas.

“It’s an initiative we have run before and have seen some retailers go on to significant success by setting up their own shops and stalls. And there’s still time to get involved, we have two stalls left at the market for retailers to join up and really make a go of their retail ideas.”

The first four traders in the Grow Your Own Retailer scheme are Cosy Craft Spot, operated by Jolanta Narsutiene who has brought a selection of clay-fired pottery, crafts and ornaments from her native Lithuania.

At Curve Clothing, Zoe Angus is stocking contemporary fashions for the larger sized lady, while Chelsea McKie has women’s clothing and accessories at Cinderella’s Boutique.

Melanie Carberry has opened Soap and Soul, which stocks hand-made scented soaps, incense sticks, oil burners and ornaments.

Ms Narsutiene, who moved to the UK seven years ago, said: “I decided to set up a stall with Lithuanian crafts because every time I returned home, I would bring something back and people would admire the crafts. “It’s going really well and everyone who visits leaves with a smile. It’s been good to set up before Christmas, because they make ideal gifts.”

For more information about Grow Your Own Retailer, call Hartlepool Enterprise Centre on 01429-867 677.