My last post was about an alternative view of business and this update is a development of that. I want to write a little about face to face networking – the painfully awkward moments of attempting to feel comfortable within an edifice of artificially cheery sessions of card swapping and lift-style business summaries. I’ve found myself at a few of these events and I die inside as I hear the polished spiel, the 2 minute summary, the craven seeking out of potential work leads. It makes me want to run for the hills.
For the past few months though, I have been attending a different kind of networking group – much more like ‘friendworking’. Lewes Women in Business is a rare and precious group borne out of a desire to bring women together to share skills and offer real support to one another. It is the brainchild of Chloe Edwards of Seven Sister’s Spice who realised that there are a plethora of talented women working in isolation in Lewes, the little Sussex town where we both live, and that bringing us together would create a potent force.
Alongside the monthly meetings there are short workshops to focus on particular skills that enhance all of our businesses – social media, business planning, SEO optimisation to name but a few. Although this sounds dry and familiar, the approach taken is not. Each hour long session is lively, interesting and inclusive – a speedy lesson to rapidly impart useful information. More particularly, the nature of the group is not egocentric and thrusting but rather gentle and thoughtful. It offers a space to discuss ideas, give and receive advice and most importantly to generously encourage.
As a result of Lewes Women in Business there have been numerous collaborations such as the Lewes Hamper, bringing together VRAC teas, Merle’s Kitchen, Lewes Map and Seven Sister’s Spices. The hamper includes originally designed and handmade produce including Turkish Delight, spices, pickles, tea blends and homewares. It is the product of specialists in their field, carefully curated and gorgeously presented.
There was a wonderful Christmas Emporium featuring the work of 25 members from all walks of life in a celebration of exquisitely handmade and beautiful quality products. There will shortly be a Wellbeing event harnessing the collective skills of Herbalists, Homeopaths, Nutritionists, Yoga teachers, Psychotherapists and many more. Informal sub-groups of similar workers are dynamically forming within the community and it is exciting and heart warming to see because sharing knowledge and welcoming collaboration is empowering – we all benefit from it.
For my own business, A.S APOTHECARY, through LWB I have been fortunate enough to find Catherine Cridland the garden designer of Inviting Spaces who is collaborating with me to offer a 6 session introduction to scent gardening – a wonderful opportunity to learn design and gardening skills at the A.S APOTHECARY workshop along with a bit of distilling, salve making and cake eating. It will be a season long adventure into scent and plants. I hope it will be the first of many other workshops drawing on the talents of women nearby.
I have talked before about the inter-connectedness of us all, the need for human scale interaction and the pleasure of sharing skills and ideas and this is exactly that – a space for meeting, celebration and success. It is the way forward…For more information about Lewes Women in Business have a look at the Facebook page. It is a lot more fun than it sounds!
Lewes Women in Business - https://www.facebook.com/Lewes-Women-in-Business-792268047517626/?fref=ts
A.S APOTHECARY – www.asapoth.com/events/
Seven Sisters Spice – sevensistersspices.com
Merle’s Kitchen – www.merleskitchen.co.uk
VRAC – www.vractea.co.uk
Lewes Map – www.lewesmap.co.uk
Inviting Spaces – www.invitingspaces.co.uk