Wednesday, July 18, 2018
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What Genderbuzz learned from the Women in Finance Report Launch

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Women in Finance

This week, I attended the launch of the ‘Women in Finance’ report which details the findings of the Inquiry set up by the Treasury Select Committee, headed by Nicky Morgan M.P.

Genderbuzz was proud to submit its paper to the Inquiry and we are quoted on Page 30 of the report. This week’s launch at the London offices of Bloomberg, included a panel session where the findings of the report were discussed. The Panellists were: Jon. P Terry of PWC, Tiina Lee, Deutsche Bank. Rushanara Ali, Labour M.P. for Bethnal Green and Bow, Alison McGovern Labour M.P. for Wirral South and Nicky Morgan Conservative M.P. for Loughborough. This is my summary of the discussion.

The Bonus Gap

When asked what key points she took away from the report, Nicky Morgan M.P said that  that the Bonus Gap in Financial services between men and women and the language used in job adverts were key takeaways to focus on. She said that the Financial Industry will always compensate heavily through bonuses and more objectivity around the bonus process was needed. Nicky also said that many women are counting themselves out of applying for top jobs because of ‘legacy’ language in job applications which hadn’t changed in years. Firms need to look at that and update their ideas on what skills are really needed for top jobs in modern Finance and adjust their language accordingly.

Tiina Lee  said that there needed to be explicit conversations around compensation, not only between managers but between women and men on how to negotiate compensation. She said that most men do not hesitate to go into their boss’ office over the course of the year to tell them about all the great things they were achieving. She encouraged women not to wait until bonus time to sing their own praises.

Jon. P Terry of PWC agreed that the area that he thought needed most work was the ‘Bonus Gap’. In an industry where a significant chunk of compensation was through bonus payments, the criteria for awarding bonuses must be objective and the front office businesses must constantly challenge the way in which they award these bonuses. He also added that we absolutely need to normalise conversations around pay.

Hiring and Promoting Women

Tiina Lee of Deutsche Bank said that there must be greater awareness of how we select women for senior roles and that hiring managers must insist on gender balanced shortlists. She said that many hiring managers don’t look hard enough for good female candidates and neither do recruiters and male candidates are hired for expediency to fill vacant posts. This needs to change.

Jon. P Terry said that if there were ‘proportional promotions’ of men and women, there would be a sea change within City Firms. Currently women are taking TWICE as long to get promoted from Middle to Senior Management.

Unconscious Bias

Alison McGovern M.P said that, unconscious bias was the issue that struck her most in all the inquiry submissions. She felt that it was at the heart of the problem and wanted to know who is monitoring unconscious bias policies and what are the actual practices in City Firms around this. She said that that although we cannot change our instincts, we can change our practices and she would like more focus on this.  Jon P. Terry agreed that unconscious bias training was not enough and that ongoing awareness must form part of every manager’s day to day development. He did say that he had seen ‘significant improvement’ on this in the last 5 years.

Cultural Change in City Firms

Rushanara Ali M.P. said that she felt not much had improved for Women in Finance and that that Financial Regulators have a responsibility to change this. She said that women in senior positions are still seen as a ‘risk’ and that there will be pressure on Regulators to enforce gender equality. Rushanara also stressed the immediate need to deal with the Gender Pay Gap. Nicky Morgan M.P said that firms risk huge reputational damage by not engaging in Diversity and that Senior Executives need to be involved from the get go so that managers further down the line feel that they have ‘permission’ to engage in it too.

My Takeaways

I have worked and been connected to the world of Finance since the mid 1990s and yes, some things have changed for Women in the City but much remains the same. I agree with Rushanara Ali that the first thing to address urgently is the Gender Pay Gap, because let’s face it, in an industry which is all about the money, money is the starting point and the end game.

 

 

An average day for a Virtual Assistant? For me there’s no such thing.

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Dee Fagg
Dee talks about her life as a virtual assistant

My Genderbuzz Listing

Hello Genderbuzzers, my name is Dee and I run 3D-VA. As a virtual assistant I provide bespoke office support for small businesses needing more time.

Before setting up as a Virtual Assistant I worked 17 years for a large corporate company. In my time there, I worked in a busy call centre before designing and delivering training, managing the logistics and budget for a national training team and then taking ownership of the Learning & Development systems for internal training, mandatory requirements and external franchise training records. Latterly I was a Project Manager with responsibilities for regular system outage upgrades and User acceptance testing.

What it means to be my own boss

When the opportunity came to take voluntary redundancy, I decided it was time to make the leap and set up my own business and I’ve not looked back. Being the boss can be quite daunting but it’s also exhilarating to know I am running my business my way.

When you’re running your own business there is the expectation that you have to do it all. In the world of the mega corporate company there is a department for everything; sales, marketing, finance, training, HR, legal, even the team whose sole responsibility is the company brand, images selected and wording chosen, colours used etc.  When you are a one woman band, however, there is pressure to do it all, to be an expert in all fields and that’s just not realistic.

Outsource the tasks you are not skilled to do yourself
I absolutely feel that it is best to find people who are skilled in the things that you are not and to outsource what you can’t do, don’t have time to do, or just don’t like to do. Since starting my business at the beginning of 2016, I have met and worked with many small businesses. I love the variety of people I work with, getting an insight into industries I’d have never come across in my corporate life. I also relish the variety of work I do. This week for my clients, amongst other things, I have……

  • Compiled and edited a slideshow presentation
  • Collated a list of contact details for importing into an accounting system
  • Managed appointment availability for coaching events
  • Carried out Anti Money Laundry checks for customer onboarding
  • Pulled together a monthly distribution report
  • Set up some CRM system workflow automation
  • Sent GDPR opt-in messages
  • Sent invites and then and managed a webinar call

… No one can say I don’t have variety in my job

I’m thrilled now to be involved with Genderbuzz, not just as a lister but as Member Liaison. I’m really looking forward to finding out about all of you and your businesses and how we can support each other in the Genderbuzz community.

If you need Virtual Assistant services, then contact me today and let’s see how we can work together to improve things for your business 3d-va

Dee

 

How I created a successful hashtag & writing career from my training as a veterinary nurse

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My Genderbuzz Listing 

Hi Genderbuzzers, I’m Jane Davidson and I’m a Digital Content writer.

Getting started  

I recently wrote those important words for the first time, ‘I’m a writer’. Even as I’m writing this about being able to support you with your writing, it might seem obvious that I’m a writer but it has taken a while for the penny to drop with me. Whilst this might not seem a great way to promote my business here on Genderbuzz®, I feel fellow women will understand that we often strive to be the best we can be at something, before giving ourselves the appropriate ‘title’. I’ve been writing professionally for over 5 years and was first asked to write for a veterinary newspaper because of my twitter activity and my training as a veterinary nurse.  I now run the successful and award winning hashtag #planetrvn creating a community for vets nurses and vets. When I started #planetrvn,  it caught the eye of the some digital editors and 5 years on I write quite a lot – for money, I might add💰

How I honed my skills – Blogs and Books

Writing seemed to come quite naturally to me and while that’s great, writing is still a craft that needs some work. I first became established as a blogger and now write for 3 companies every month however, I still wanted to stretch my skills and write in different formats. While my blogging is often based around science or professional issues, it remains a more relaxed style of writing and I wanted to prove I could write for different needs.

As a veterinary nurse I felt qualified to write academic articles on clinical and professional issues which have been published in an international peer-reviewed journal. I initially promised myself that I’d write one article a year, but I actually managed three in 2017!

As a result of this, my work was noted on LinkedIn and a publisher approached me to write  A BOOK! The subject matter was one close to my heart and is on research and study skills for academic success in the sciences.  I submitted it last month and it’s been an amazing journey for me and has really improved my writing skills.

For me, the book was the turning point where I was finally able to say ‘I am a writer’. I’d set myself some goals for writing and hit them all. Maybe six years is a long time, maybe it shows how much I need my writing to be good. Either way I’m now ready to support others in creating their message that they need to share. Writing has given me the opportunity to lead and support a community and share some important messages.

Now I want to share my skills with others

If you have a business, you will need to write copy and content for your digital channels. Yes, other people can write for you – I do it all the time, but there are times when the voice that is needed is YOUR unfiltered voice and I can give you the skills, space and time to make that happen. My basis for writing and creating has always been altruistic and I’m an educator at heart too.

If you want to improve your writing skills contact me today and let’s chat about how to get you started or even up to your next level of writing skill:

Yes I want to improve my writing skills – take me there! 

Jane

From Metals to Mental Health

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Joanna Dreher
Joanna Dreher, Therapeutic Coach

Our Genderbuzz Listing Blackwood Consultants Ltd

Hello fellow Genderbuzzers – I’m Joanna and I’m one of the directors of Blackwood Consultants Ltd – a company that offers Personal Consultancy (more about that later) and executive coaching to corporate companies and private clients. I feel that I’ve finally managed to be in the career I’ve dreamt about for years. It’s been a long road to get here……..

Where it all began..

 I left school at 16 not having a clue what I wanted to do – except be an actress and go to drama school, which my dad was dead against – being an accountant he looked at the rate of unemployment and directed me to a safer role – Banking. Not the most exciting role for me, but I was offered a junior role at my first interview so took it. I have to say I found the junior roles very monotonous and in my early twenties looked for something in the city slightly more interesting. I found myself a role in the commodities markets, which held my focus well and I began working my way up the corporate ladder to Vice President level.

In the meantime…..

I went on a journey of self discovery – that’s not to say I sat in a barn meditating (though I did that too) – my journey was a long and messy one, it was a mixture of bad decisions, difficult relationships, not owning my boundaries, bouts of depression and lack of self care – during this time I also met some great people and in order to try and understand myself I developed an interest in psychology and meditation. I loved listening to people and their stories and people would often comment that people around me changed – for the better. I wondered if I could use my interests and skills for a career, but when I looked at the amount of training I had to do on top of a full time job – I never thought I would be able to complete it.

Then…. One day over 10 years ago, everything changed – my marriage broke down – I saw this as an opportunity to live a more authentic life. I was a divorcee, a single mother – but I had a decent job which meant that I was financially self sufficient. They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step – it’s true! So I sought help and undertook a programme of personal development that informs my practice today. I also enrolled to study a degree in psychology part time. Yes it was tough, being a full time, working, single parent is challenging and I salute all the working/single parents out there – though for the first time in years, I felt free – I didn’t have to answer to anyone – it felt liberating to follow my own dreams. I graduated and went straight on to complete a 2 year post graduate diploma in Personal Consultancy and am currently completing my masters researching mental health support in the workplace.

Personal Consultancy …Is a model that blends integrative counselling with coaching, this allows me to work on all of a clients timescales – past, present and future. Integrative means that I am trained in a range of approaches, from person-centred, gestalt, CBT through to psychodynamic, to name a few. I fit the therapy to the person rather than fitting the person to the therapy. I consider the counselling part of the model to be a chance to build (or even rebuild) the foundations on which to grow – which is where the coaching element comes into play. Through my course I met some fantastic people. I co-founded a low cost counselling charity in East London and also met my colleagues at Blackwood today.

Blackwood …started as a conversation outside of the classroom and the momentum continued after the course ended – we felt we had an idea that would be beneficial to our users. My previous role in the city and my own experience of personal and emotional issues had taught me a lot of things – especially about the stigma related to mental health. The research is out there for all to read – the statistics of absenteeism, presenteeism due to mental health are disturbing, yet many companies stick to the same solution. At Blackwood we believe that we offer a different kind of support, we can work on emotional issues, we can work on behavioural issues, we can also coach a person to perform better in the workplace, we offer training, we have an in house trauma specialist and renowned addiction specialist and much more. After all, people are complex – their issues and needs are unique and therefore we have to match that with a bespoke service – therapy is not a one size fits all affair! We are working with forward thinking companies offering our services to their employees and also have a private client list. And me? Well I’m finally living my dream – listening to people and their stories and working with them to facilitate change.

 See Blackwood’s Listing Here 

 

 

From Franchisee to Independent Shop owner

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Natural for Baby
My Genderbuzz listing: Natural for Baby
Hi there Genderbuzzers, my name’s Elizabeth and this is my business story on how my specialist shop for organic baby products, Natural for Baby in Balham, came to life!
South West London has always been my neighbourhood
I have always lived in SW London, did the usual system of education, but never really knew what I wanted to do as a career. After University, I did temp work which ended up with me having a disability that lasted for a decade. I did however work through most of this time doing various office roles for the Archbishops’ Council but when a  new boss came in I (and most of the department) was made redundant! I used part of my redundancy to pay for the Alexander Technique which allowed me to no longer be officially disabled and my life as an entrepreneur got off the starting blocks.
Becoming a Franchisee 

One thing that motivated me was the desire to ‘not have a boss’ but to have some kind of business support too. I found that perfect half-way house of being a Franchisee.  I discovered a company called Natures Purest UK which was mainly a baby gifting company that made a variety of baby clothes, toys, bedding and more with 100% organic naturally coloured cotton. cottons that were used were rare, handpicked from a community farm with no nasty chemicals which were then ethically made into the end product in their own factory. For nearly three years I ran my shop as a Franchisee called ‘Natures Purest Balham’. I loved that everything that was made ethically in general,  I care for the environment and hate the way that people are treated in many factories in the world which is why I loved the brand to the level of investing into opening the shop. There is also nothing cuter than baby gifts, you always have happy customers buying for babies on the way or new babies that have been born.

 A bolt from the Blue and then PIVOT

Sadly in 2017,  I  discovered rather abruptly that Natures Purest UK were probably going into administration, but was told that this would be a gradual process and I’d have 2 years to decide what to do with my shop. However, only a few weeks later, I discovered that the brand was actually closing down faster than that and that after many attempts to get hold of further stock that selling these items simply wasn’t possible any more.

With 2 more years on the shop lease  I re-branded! Having changed various online listings and buying new shop signage, new stock items were brought in. Customers had been asking for three years for toddler clothes, toddler toys, toddler bedding as well as for babies so although it was sad with the departure of Natures Purest UK closing, it gave me  the opportunity to provide many of the most requested items in my shop for my regular customers. I also found the new items have attracted many new customers too.

My values are still my Unique Selling Point

One thing I haven’t changed was the ethos of the shop, clothes sold in the shop are made from 100% organic cotton that are either naturally coloured or carries the oeko-tex certification Some items have the Fairtrade certification, some other items have other guarantees and I have continued to sell some brands that are handmade by other women in business.  She also now sells wooden toys made with sustainable wood that are ethically made too.  What my whole entrepreneurial journey has taught me so far is to roll with what happens. I went from not knowing what to do, doing a job that pays the bills, facing uncertainly with redundancy, starting afresh as a Franchisee, having uncertainly again to building up my business again, this time running a fully Independent shop! I have even built my first website recently because I  know how even regular customers want to check what’s in the shop before popping in.

If you live in South West London and are looking for baby gifts or products, please pop into Natural for Baby and say Hi!  All the best – Elizabeth.

My passion for photography led me to starting my own visual branding agency

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The Elegant Brand
My Genderbuzz Listing –  The Elegant Brand
Hi Genderbuzzers, my name’s Rachel and I am the founder of ‘The Elegant Brand’ and this is my business story.
My love of photography started at an early age
Photography has always been something close to my heart and even from a young age I loved rummaging through my grandmother’s shoe boxes full of family memorabilia, photographs in black and white and vintage colours. I photographed friends whenever they would allow me and loved browsing through glossy faction magazines, never even thinking for a minute that I would make photography my profession it felt completely out of reach. 
So, I followed what I would call a ‘traditional path’, working, in sales, account and project management but I realised something was very wrong when each time I was talking about photography with someone, I was so full of enthusiasm; it felt like a fire was igniting me from inside. 
Back to Uni for me…
In 2009 I decided to go back to uni to study for an MA in Fine Art Photography. I continued working and started a project about Women who volunteered during WWII. In 2016 I left my job to set up my portrait and personal branding photography business. 
 
I quickly realised that my portrait and branding clients had not much in common, and last year, have decided to create two different brands for my photography, one focusing purely on portraiture called ‘By Rachel V Photography’ and the other one ‘The Elegant Brand’ providing not only branding photography but also film and brand clarity coaching. 
 
‘The Elegant Brand’ is here to close a gap in the market by providing branding photography and film at a professional level, for brands who want to stand out with their stories and are not served by commercial photography agencies. I would call the Elegant Brand a boutique visual branding agency. The idea is to provide a full service to create images that are relevant to their business, tell a story rather than photographing at random. In a very competitive market having brand clarity and being focused on telling your story is vital to stand out, this is the mission of the Elegant helping businesses increase their brand visibility and reach their ideal audience. 
How I would like my company to grow
In an ideal world, I would love to set up an agency, develop a team, provide a full-on bespoke branding service for all visual content needs. A brand does not only need images for what I would call ‘static visual content’, but also variable visual content, for the blog, social media, promotions, newsletter etc.. and you have to make sure that these images fit your brand and work with all other elements in your branding to create consistency for your brand to stand out with the message you’re putting out there.I have worked with life coaches, wedding planner, photographer, fashion designers, makeup artist, my ideal client understands the power of having on-brand imagery. 
What can I do for your brand?
I offer a free consultation to understand what you, as a  prospective client is after, get a feel for your brand and help you create a compelling visual brand story to increase your visibility and reach your ideal audience. You can book a free consultation via https://theelegantbrand.com/book-now-for-your-free-consultation/

I went from teacher to Social Media Pro

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Social Thyme
ISIL SIMSEK, founder of Social Media company, Social Thyme

Hi Genderbuzzers, My name’s Isil Simsek. I’m a social media marketer and founder of Social Thyme. I studied Economics at university and started working at an international retail company as a buyer when I graduated. I never imagined I would start my own business one day. When I had my children, I developed an interest in Montessori education and trained as a teacher. I love teaching but for various reasons that did not work out either. It was at this point I decided to qualify as a social media marketer.

Blogging my way to success

My journey to becoming a social media professional, came through Blogging.  I had been a Blogger since 2005 and had gained a good understanding of social media. One day I was sitting in front of the computer thinking how I could turn these skills into a job, and I came across ‘Digital Mums’-an organisation that upskills mums with social media marketing. I took one of their courses, and set up Social Thyme right after graduating from Digital Mums in July 2015.

Venturing into the great Freelancing unknown

When I graduated, I was still working part time, as well as running my new business. I started out by sending cold emails to a few brands that I liked and I was lucky enough to start working with an amazing, healthy snack brand produced by a lovely woman. I worked with her for about 18 months, remotely and have actually never met her in real life!

Resigning from my previous part time job and going freelance in a new industry, was a huge step but I have never looked back. Most of my clients are small and medium sized businesses, who either don’t have the time to run their own social media channels or simply don’t know how to do it. I love helping them promote their services and products. I have worked with both B2B and B2C clients from different industries. I now work from home flexibly, around my family.  Starting out in a new industry is not easy. There have been lots of highs and lows and late nights but I guess if you love what you do, you work hard, do the hustle and make things happen!
Keeping Up to date with the latest trends
Visual marketing has become very important in the last few years and in 2017, I decided to improve my photography skills. I did courses with Makelight and have finally found the confidence to ditch auto and started shooting in manual. This year I have challenged myself to improve my video skills and I am currently doing Xanthe Berkeley‘s Make Films Course.
Why I joined the Genderbuzz Directory and listed Social Thyme
It’s been almost a year since I joined the Genderbuzz Directory. I feel privileged to be a part of this community. I know that Natasha has lots of plans to grow Genderbuzz. I look forward to connecting with you all.

How I literally weathered the business storms in 2017

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British Virgin Islands Holidays
Joyce, owner of BVI Holidays - No 1. British Virgin Islands travel specialist worldwide

Hi Genderbuzz women, my name’s Joyce Kinniburgh and I own BVI Holidays Ltd – the  only specialist travel company to the glorious British Virgin Islands worldwide. For the most part, I LOVE my job, hleping people to plan and arrange their dream holiday to one of the most beautiful places on the planet, but, during 2017, I had to fall back on all my business resilience to literally weather the storms that devastated the BVI and potentially  my business. Here is my story:

September 2017- In the eye of the Storm

When Hurricanes Irma and Maria ripped through the British Virgin Islands on 6th September 2017, nobody could have envisaged the massive destruction caused or the ensuing aftermath. At times the winds were so strong they were literally ripping the tarmac from the roads.Some of the BV Islanders lost everything – their homes, their businesses, and their personal belongings.

When I saw footage of what had once been the Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda, I cried. My first of many visits there was in 1989 and it is the most unique hotel I have ever visited. Thatched cottages linked by wooden walkways overlooking a mile-long white sand beach and the most stunning views imaginable. Completely destroyed by our unwelcome “visitors”. Paradise was reduced to driftwood.

Facing down the aftermath with grit and determination

When faced with clearing up almost total devastation what did the BVI community do, did they throw in the towel, sit down and cry, leave and try to start a new life somewhere else? No, these resilient people did none of these things. With the initial assistance of our wonderful marines and true grit and determination, they got on with the job of rebuilding the infrastructure of the BVI and doing their utmost to restore their beautiful islands to their former glory.

What did I do? I will be perfectly honest with you – I was worried. For weeks and months, I had no enquiries whatsoever and the future was not looking good. However, I also have grit and determination and I am very aware that the BVI needs the tourists back; next to Banking, Tourism is the main industry in the British Virgin Islands. From a selfish point of view – I also need people to start booking again. Bills still have to be paid!

Several properties will not be available for holidays until 2019, however, I decided to work with what was available and focus on promoting the sailing, which was back up and running very quickly – sailboats, motor yachts and crewed yachts.   The island of Anegada was left almost unscathed by the hurricanes and the three properties there with which I work – two hotels and a great beach restaurant with beachfront villas – all re-opened last November.

On some of the other islands, we have several beautiful villas which escaped damage and some of the hotels are due to open in the coming months.

What’s next for me and the British Virgin Islands? 

The upside is that some of the beaches (if this is possible!) are even better than before. The greenery and tropical flowers are coming back and will grow very quickly. The flowers in the tropics grow like our weeds do in the U.K.!

Since the hurricanes struck, I have been e-mailing my client database regularly to keep everyone updated on the progress throughout the islands and to assure them that things are slowly but surely returning to normal and of course to remind them that our business, BVI Holidays is THE company to book with as we are fully up to speed with what’s happening there.

One good thing that came out of Irma and Maria, is that now – everyone knows where the British Virgin Islands are and I no longer expect to receive calls from people asking “where are the BVI?” From my experience in 2017, I realised that the secret to a successful business with staying power, is to be positive and concentrate on what you do have, not what you don’t have.

Would you like to talk to me about a holiday in the British Virgin Islands? Go to my Genderbuzz listing today and find me under ‘Travel Services’.
All the best – Joyce

I pivoted my business model, and now we’re thriving!

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Women in Business
I took brave decisions to pivot my business when times got tough, and now we're thriving!

Hi, my name is Shona Chambers and I am Director and Founder of Space at 61 – an event space in South East London. Think of us as a kind of  “Airbnb for business use”, where a  typical week might include the venue being used by Artists working on their creations, supper club hosts trying out new menus (we have a commercial kitchen with food hygiene rating, & seating for 40 covers), work-shoppers holding interesting craft projects, families hosting gatherings, and pop up retail events.  In short, no two weeks are the same.

ButSpace at 61 was never my intended business and by sharing my story with fellow Genderbuzzers,, I hope I can show you that being brave and pivoting my business model when things got tough, paid off for me. I started out in 2011 with a year of painstaking scrutiny, projected income, break even points, banks, selling our family home to fund the renovations of a derelict unit, & finally in May 2012 I opened the Cafe/Deli of my dreams – ‘The Dish and Spoon’

Good Times

The whole concept of ‘The Dish and the Spoon’ was to open a community cafe with a strong focus on family, in an area, which had nothing at all to offer the average family. When we opened, the Cafe did well, the locals loved it, and we were full of happy families with children enjoying the toy corner, and Mum & Dad trying out different meats & cheese for lunch from our deli offering. In our first year of opening we won ‘London’s Top Toddler Friendly Cafe’ & I was so proud – both of my team & of the fact I’d brought my dream to life off the page so to speak.

Not so Good Times

Sadly, in the same way for many independent shops and cafes, we struggled like crazy to keep afloat. There were quiet periods where all our customers seemed to be on holiday at once and unhelpful parking schemes from the local council and little by little, it became harder to keep going. In 2014, towards the end of the summer, we started to notice water appearing in strange places around the premises and we had to close the café for 6 whole months! In March 2015, we reopened, and I limped on for another year or so before accepting that our trade had moved on, the magic had gone, & my only real choice was to close the cafe for good. Heartbreaking.

Pivot that business!

At this point, having pumped an obscene amount of my family’s money into the business, I tried to look at selling the business & its lease but, the amount I would have received was so low, it was almost to the point of walking away with nothing, whilst at the same time handing back a beautifully renovated property to my landlord. (Who is lovely by the way, no offence to him intended!) Shortly before we closed the cafe, I remember having a conversation with one of my amazing regulars Hannah Read-Baldrey, who is a local author and stylist.  She took one look at the place and said ‘Shona, you could do anything with this place, anyone would love to use it for photo shoots, pop ups, anything like that’! I was very sceptical, but I really appreciated her suggestion and gave it a lot of thought.

Then, very uncharacteristically for me, I decided, ‘sod it! I will have a go at keeping the place and I will try and find enough people to rent it out for their own projects, to make the rent each month – at least whilst I think what to do next’.  So,we took down the sign for the Dish and the Spoon’, turned it around & my arty husband made us a new sign on the other side with Space at 61 on it.  We put up the sign, and that was that – a new brand and a new business model was born. The fact is, that we didn’t ever really close, we simply stepped from Cafe to ‘Space’ in a matter of days.

A new dawn and a new time to thrive

My first real customers were a fantastic Mexican themed Supperclub who were just getting started in East Dulwich and wanted a bit more space than their flat would allow. And then shortly after that, a lovely Tapas pop-up followed, and they became regulars serving up amazing food to the local community several days per month. I discovered several online platforms to list the business on, and enquiries started to increase that way as more people heard of it. I treated it really at that point as a rental, finding clients & leaving them to it. The tipping point only really came well into 2017 when I realised that ‘I’ wanted to choose who came into the place, ‘I’ wanted to make it an amazing place too.

At that point I really started to push my way out into local networking groups and events, with the view that by telling lots of people what I was trying to do, they would at the very least spread the word for me, and maybe even use it themselves. I was hearing more and more that we had an unusual offering, in that we allowed people to rent the space from 1 hour upwards. We don’t charge the earth, as the idea for me has always been to help people to get going, to take an idea they are passionate about and just have a go. With rents going through the roof, and gentrification pushing the creative types further and further out of the area, I felt that I could at least help people to begin in their business.  And that is pretty much what has happened. We have been booked out ever since and we our thriving and so is our community.

If you’d asked me 6 years ago if I’d be doing this, I’d have laughed, but like many business women, I am still running my own company and it’s brilliant!  I hope I’ve inspired you to keep going when the going gets tough and of course, if you live in South London, or have any friends that do, we’d love to welcome you at Space at 61

Shona 

Contact us: Spaceat61@gmail.com

Address: 61 Cheltenham Road, Nunhead,London, SE15 3AF

Genderbuzz Responds to U.K Treasury Select Committee on ‘Women in Finance’

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Women in Finance
Natasha Stromberg, CEO of Genderbuzz

Read the Genderbuzz response to the U.K Treasury Select Committee’s Inquiry about ‘Women in Finance’ and why there are still so few women in senior positions in City Firms and in banking and Finance in general.

Our response was jointly submitted with Lauren Chiren from Women of a certain stage’ and Jessica Chivers of ‘The Talentkeeper specialists’

Genderbuzz Response 2018