In the immortal words of Debbie Harry, picture this, a day in December…the 1st of December in fact, and I am at the end of a week long retreat of writing, long walks and endless cafe visits in Whitby. But all is not lost. Before my return, I have one last duty to perform – the tasting of four different brands of gin kindly provided by Rebekah at Liquid Indulgence.
Regular readers will know that my knowledge lies more with food than drink, but I am partial to a drop of the old Mother’s Ruin and gin suits my taste buds perfectly. All of the samples described were accompanied by the excellent Fevertree tonic and stored at room temperature before serving. So let us begin…
Catherine admits to struggling with her CSE’s at her secondary school in Blackburn. Her favourite subjects – Home Ec and Environmental Science – got her through the school years and onto a catering course at her local Technical College. From here she built a career as a chef, working with reputable establishments like the Gatwick Hilton. She describes herself as someone who learnt practically rather than academically, a style perfectly suited to the catering industry.
One of the joys of regular networking is the opportunity to meet local food and drink businesses who might not otherwise drop onto my radar. The perfect example of this comes in the energetic and knowledgable form of Alan Terry and Rebekah Hilton at Liquid Indulgence: a Wheldrake based company who trade carefully sourced wine and spirits largely – though not exclusively – in the wholesale sector.
At a recent encounter myself and Rebekah began chatting about our regular blogging practice (check out the Liquid Indulgence blog for regular updates on events and special offers) and how, when I can, I like to drop in the odd product review for independent food businesses. This discussion led to an opportunity to try one of their favourite wine choices in exchange for an honest and open review on the blog. How could I refuse?
Brand is a term that we hear a lot as business owners. Marketing experts regularly tell us how important brand building is. As a writer I focus on the way language impacts your ability to attract paying clients. So in this context, the term brand relates to the perception created through the use of language.
Do you know what your brand stands for and how you make your ideal clients feel? Founder of Intuit and expert marketeer Scott Cook insists that it’s no longer as simple as telling people how they should feel. It is what they are telling each other that matters. In other words – show them what you do and why, and they will tell you – and each other – how that makes them feel. That is where the real truth about your brand lies.
A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.
As a relatively new business owner, ( first birthday last month – yay!) I still earn most of my contracts through face to face networking. It is time consuming and sometimes exhausting – extending my time spent ‘at work’ by at least a couple of hours either side of the day. Costs can range from a Pay As You Feel arrangement to hundreds of pounds a quarter.
It’s easy to adopt the scatter gun approach in the early days. This works for some, many successful business owners attend a number of different networking groups on a regular basis. But with some groups requiring a large joining fee and regular monthly payments this can be an expensive marketing plan. I quickly made the decision to join one group where I could invest my time in attending meetings and getting to know other members. This involved a lot of initial research to make sure that my final decision was the correct one, but once I had identified the right group for me I made a clear commitment. I still accept invitations to visit others as a guest and drop in and out of smaller, social networking groups. But I never let these get in the way of my ‘Alpha’ choice. Attending just one main group means that I can stay focused, build strong working relationships and it doesn’t eat into my time for client work.
So how do you know that you have found the right networking group?
In exactly two weeks I celebrate my 41st birthday. I’ve always had a bit of a thing for birthdays. They act as a perfect excuse for some of my favourite things – like good company, great food and lots of silliness.
My 33rd birthday was a very different affair. Friends gathered at our home and there were lots of thoughtful gifts, kind remarks and hugs that lasted slightly longer than normal. We all smiled, laughed and celebrated but there was a tangible uncertainty hanging in the air – the proverbial elephant in the room.
We never met. I have no idea whether you enjoyed blowing out the candles on your cake or hated birthdays with a passion. You may have been a husband, father, brother or uncle. Perhaps you spent your time walking in the Scottish highlands. Maybe you loved nothing more than a night in front of the telly with a glass of wine. It’s quite odd, sharing a close and unbreakable bond with a total stranger.
Early in my work as a freelance writer I was lucky enough to be introduced to Simon Sinek and his incredible TED talk – How Great Leaders Inspire Action. Everything that Simon advocates looks at the importance of starting from a place of passion – then using the reason why you are in business as a driving factor in building your brand.
the aim is not to do business with everyone who needs the thing you have; but to do business with everyone who believes what you believe.
So do you understand the passion that drives you in your business journey? Are you using this to develop engaging and inspiring narratives in your marketing plan?
Two days ago I committed to a blog writing challenge over at Authors Publish. It felt like a great idea at the time. One page of writing, every day, throughout August. These challenges are a little like the intellectual equivalent of running a marathon. Every time I do one I swear never again – only to find myself signing up when the next one comes along. I love writing. But life gets in the way and – even when my mind is swimming with ideas – sometimes I simply cannot find the time.
As somebody famous once stated in a Facebook meme, “The only thing worse than writing is not writing.” A general nod to the torturous journey many writers put themselves through as they strive to create a piece of work that will never be perfect, only to stop writing and find themselves struggling with the lack of self expression this brings. A short daily writing pledge can be the perfect answer; ensuring that you carve out enough time and stick to the challenge.
Since 2004 a group of volunteers have been working behind the scenes to maintain York’s status as a fair trade city. They state Fair Trade – as opposed to Fairtrade – because there are many ways in which everyone can support fairly traded goods even when they don’t meet the exacting status of the official Fairtrade movement. With the celebration of International Fair Trade Day in May, Claire Davies met with Helen Harrison and Kathryn Tissiman to discuss their work within the York Fair Trade Forum.
When Bridget Bernadette Karn began exploring felting six years ago she never imagined it was the first step towards exhibiting in the 2016 Summer Exhibition at The Royal Academy of Art.
Bridget’s fascination with the arts developed at an early age. However life got in the way as work, family responsibilities and health issues prevented her from following a creative career. Undeterred Bridget continued to study her passion at college, attending summer schools and evening classes whenever possible. Then in 2006 she started an Arts and Crafts Club in her local area.
“I wanted somewhere for likeminded people to come together, sharing ideas and skills. Members brought in different crafts for each other to try and one of the ladies suggested felting. I had never tried it before so had a go. Straight away I could see the potential for picture making.”
Bridget continued to experiment with felt picture making until 2012 when a supportive friend saw a picture of sunflowers she had created during her time recovering from an operation. Her friend suggested she show it at the Boston Spa Art Festival.
The experience acted as the starting point for developing her passion for felt picture making into something more than a hobby. Time was something of a premium though as she had a busy life being a full time carer and running another business alongside a part time job. But the death of her Father in 2013 left her exhausted and struggling to cope with chronic fatigue syndrome.
“I realised that the world didn’t stop without me and I needed to take some time to rest and let go of some of my responsibilities. Making my felt pictures played a large part of my recovery.”