Starting out in workshop wonderland
Launching an event series last month has absolutely spiralled me down a rabbit-hole learning curve. Long hours and admin, I’d expected. Being quite so out of my comfort zone selling, that Facebook actually works and feeling a little bit vulnerable, less so.
There have been a lot of Alice moments, of putting myself on the line. Each LinkedIn post feels like I’m bearing just a little bit more of my soul. This from a PR 18 years in and with heaps of events experience.
And yet, my conviction in this project is unshakeable. If anything, my co-founder,Helen, content creator at Not about the kids are in idea overdrive. We’ve agreed not to call each other the second one excitedly pops into our heads.
What’s the vision that we, as creative businesses, are putting out into the world through our workshops? To dig a little deeper, I chatted to three brilliantly inspiring friends, who’ve each built workshops into their businesses.
Laura Turner runs lifestyle store Hero in Stockbridge. Her programme includes in-store events, a recently launched sell-out creative gathering, and well-curated workshops, ranging from lettering through to building a brand through Instagram. I’ve been to two -they’re brilliant.
Laura’s story. “In 2015, when I first started putting together creative workshops, my sole intention was to demonstrate that my business had more meaning and soul behind it, than simply just a shop. As time went on and the community grew, I realised I was in a position to really serve others.”
“I felt there was a real disconnect between a real- life business and human contact, with what I referred to as, the digital underground – blogs, social media, so on. I wanted to bring people together, to sit round a table and have a conversation. A two-way conversation with someone who had walked the same path. Little nuggets of wisdom or a secret tip that could transform their business or creative project. Something that you just can’t get some a digital platform.”
Just the other week, an old colleague and I chatted about why we hadn’t started working for ourselves sooner. Why hadn’t we figured out a way to bring our values and skills together in a way that aligned our careers, passions and home lives? Simply – we didn’t know it was an option.
Showing what is possible and sharing inspiration is something super-talented photographer and blogger Tia Talula has built into her photography and social media workshops.
“My goal is to equip women with the tools, to market their dream. I built my business via social media, therefore I know it’s possible with some hard work and creativity, to turn those posts into a real business.”
“I love people, and I absolutely love meeting women who have goals and dreams – I get such a buzz from helping them to find that fire in their belly. I genuinely want to see my students succeed and follow their journeys.”
Laura agrees, “The way I’ve always wanted my workshops to stand out is to produce something that is truly helpful. To give people something that can take their business to where they want to take it to. It’s so important to me that every detail has been attended to and to really go above and beyond what people expect. How people feel before, during and after the event was always a priority.”
Tell your story
Ceriann Smith, founder of the massively popular Winging It Club (and my PR mucker from back in the day) saw workshops as a way for women to connect at a deeper level; adding a healthy injection of truth-telling to the mix.
“It was Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016 and a shift in life direction for me that took ‘Winging It Club’ from a virtual existence to a physical one. Prior to that, the ‘Club’ had been a blog and social feed. I asked women who had, from the outside looking in, aspirational careers and lives, whether they indeed felt that they had it all figured out… The answer was always “No.” Emphatically. To the extent that they actually credited the mistakes, failures and ability to openly ‘wing it’ along the way for some of their success.”
As with Laura and Tia, the workshops came at a time of change in her life too.
“I had started working for myself for the first time in my life (I’m a PR and Comms consultant of 17 years) and based on the blog feedback, knew that I wasn’t alone in feeling out on a limb sometimes. If I breathed a sigh of relief at not feeling like I had to have it all figured out, I thought others might too.”
“Winging It Workshops launched in March 2017. I joined up with a friend who had gone through a similar life change to me. Both of us had corporate backgrounds and were in the process of setting up on our own. Fast forward to today, we have run eleven workshops hosting panellists from Holly Tucker MBE to one of the UK’s leading influencers, Erica Davies. Every single person that has sat on one of the panels has held their hands up to winging it and offered salient advice and wisdom for attendees along the way.”
Build a community
Whatever the stage of your business, community is everything. Beyond Instagram’s lovely squares. It’s the reassuring text from an old work-friend or another creative business reaching out for a coffee and potential collaboration.
Ceriann adds, “The phrase ‘like-minded’ is overused today but it really is this gathering of people who are seeking advice or a steer in a certain direction while equally rooting for every single person in the room at the same time that provides inspiration that’s difficult to match in other forums.”
“Since running the workshops, I’m aware of at least five businesses that have launched as a result – sometimes it’s just about the confidence boost or the validation of their idea – while a number of collaborations and work opportunities have risen for other attendees.”
Laura adds, “My goal is to bring people together, to give them reassurance and confidence.”
Creating community, confidence and connection is the golden thread running through these workshops. It’s at the core of our vision for Elevate too. If you feel you could do with more of this in your day, head over to our first event. We’ll be sharing more soon.