There are craftier ways of networking with new business contacts than over a dawn breakfast or an after-work tipple.
Three Sheffield businesswomen are knitting new business contacts together over a spot of craftwork.
Once a fortnight, Crafty Business networkers sit down to tea and cakes at a local vintage cafe and talk shop as they make handicrafts. It’s not so much stitch and bitch as sew and grow.
Up to 30 attend the after-work lock-in at Jameson’s Tea Rooms on Abbeydale Road thanks to a brainwave by Rachel Ferla, whose business Organised Chaos helps enterprises and organisations to change and grow.
“Networking is really valuable to businesses. I’ve always done it, but got tired of early morning meet-ups and meals late into the night,” says Rachel. “I had less to give to the hobbies that de-stress me and give me time to think. I thought I’d set up a group where people could do both.”
With Aston sales specialist Jill Ashton, of Ashton Associates, and Barnsley graphic designer Steph Cronin, of Black Bee Creatives, the group launched in January.
“In our early days, the bad weather put people off and we almost decided to close. But now it’s really taken off. Our meetings are filled with chatter and cake. We provide an opportunity for networking in an informal setting, evoking the spirit of days past, when grandmothers, mothers and daughters would sit around the kitchen table crafting, collaborating and discussing issues of the day,” adds Rachel.
“Some of us are experienced crafters, others are beginners. We aim to learn from each other and also have some interesting tutorials booked.”
On the night The Star visits, Rachel is putting the finishing touches to a handbag she’s been working on for months and ex Myrtle Springs chemistry teacher Jill, 61, who is also a BforB Ladies’ Lunch networker, is making old jeans into a bottle carrier. “I’m of the generation where everybody could knit and sew and think encouraging people to learn crafts while picking up a few business tips and contacts is great,” she says.
Around a table laden with vintage china and Sarah Jameson’s hand-make gateaux and scones, photographer Sami Sparke, business psychologist Simon Kilpatrick of Intrinsic Links, masseuse Sue Scrivener and carer Tammy Thorpe are gleaning crafting tips from Home Coach Helen Moyes, jewellery-maker Sue Moore, Gill Cosford of Gill’s Clay Creations and government policy consultant Ruth Lucas, who also has a jewellery business.
Marketing tips, potential office shares and introductions to prospective new clients fall naturally into the conversation. Says Simon Kilpatrick: “Crafts engage the creative side of the brain, which also encourages ideas to flow - and allows to work side to switch off. Contact the group on Facebook.com/CraftyBusinessSheffield