I'm aware of trends. I've worked in the Fashion industry for the past 17 years, I've become tuned in to seeing patterns emerge. In case you haven't noticed there's a bit of a working revolution going on. Kerry Potter for ES Magazine writes:
We’re quitting our desk-jobs in droves: ONS figures show that 4.6 million people are now self-employed, the highest number since records began 40 years ago. This translates to 15 per cent of the UK workforce, rising to 17 per cent in London.
If you're entrenched in social media you'll also be aware of this 'Motherhood' and 'Sisterhood' vibe that's currently circulating the online communities.
Being a Mother is an instant connecter. Kinda like when I used to be a smoker, and you nipped outside for a ciggy break. That commonality you had with the person you borrowed a light off of offered up a conversation opener that at the very least got a conversation going during your 5 minutes of nicotine fix. So, likewise, being a Mother, you instantly 'get it' and have that commonality with another Mother. Knackered - yep, I get that, your child won't exit the swing after 20 minutes even though there is now a large queue, yeah I get you! Our trials, tribulations and joys in Motherhood bond us. A slight smirk and nod of the head to a passing pram pusher is the equivalent of the 'Volkswagon' or Vee-dup' hand signal to a Camper van or Beetle owner.
So, likewise as a female small business owner I've found some like minded souls, a lot of them online, quite a few on Instagram in fact. Like a Mother or a VW Camper van driver I've found I probably have some things in common with these Women. We're probably going through, or have been through similar joys and woes of running a micro empire! And there's quite a lot of us out there, in fact there's a whole wave of us doing it, a revolution I'd even hasten to say, you could even call it a trend.
Having worked in Fashion I'm also aware of people jumping on the band wagon - maybe they weren't quite into 'wearing the proverbial dungarees', but they've seen everyone else wearing them, so they think they should now too?! Ok, maybe I'm getting a little obscure with my analogy, but what I'm getting at is I wanted to step out of the main stream Fashion industry so I could avoid some of the 'bs' that seems to go along with it. I want to work with genuine and friendly people, that aren't in it for themselves, but see the value in working together, lifting each other up, and frankly having a bit of a laugh and some fun along the way!
I had a bit of a moment a couple of weeks ago. I was at a launch party for a fellow Mamma. I looked around, and wondered, had I stepped out of the Fashion 'scene' and straight into the 'Mamma scene'?! Was I going to end up trotting along to the opening of a crisp packet, because that's what all the other Instagram Mums were doing?! No, I wasn't. I was at that party because I wanted to support another Woman who I admired. I admired her because of what she stood for, her creativity, and her successes. The people at the gathering were people I wanted to meet, and familiar faces I wanted to catch up with. This was my tribe, my community, they get me, I think I get them, and hopefully they get what I am doing and want to connect with me as we all hopefully grow our businesses together.
There will come a point (and I think it may already be happening) where there's a lot of people jumping on the proverbial Sisterhood band wagon. They've recognised there's money to be made, opportunities to take. Now that's ok, we're all trying to run a business, but the minute it gets exploitative, or not transparent, that's when it's not so cool anymore.
I've been pretty full on with the number of workshops, networking and socialising events I've been doing over the past few weeks. That's because I'm not going to be in London that much longer. I'm making the most of this opportunity to find and meet my 'tribe', to learn and connect. Most of the events I've been to have been very affordable, I rarely pay more than £30-40 for an event unless it's some sort of training workshop. If there are speakers at the event, I want a chance to meet them, or at least have access to connect with them. I've learned to find events where you're taught the 'how', not the 'what'. There's practical advise on how to actually do the thing you don't quite understand. I advise you to pick events where the speaker excels at what you are trying to learn - and is willing to share with you some tips.
The minute I start to feel like I'm being ripped off, or it becomes a bit 'dog and pony' show, where the guest speakers become inaccessible crowd drawers sat on pedestals I'm afraid I'm not going. That's not the 'Sisterhood' I've signed up to (and repeatably hashtag!). The Sisterhood I want to be part of has your back, and is there to hold your hand and lift you up when you need it. Whether that's a quick e-mail with advice or just a simple like on an Instagram post, it means I know you're there, and I know you're listening.
I've started a Twitter list called 'Met #irl' - these are people I've either spoken to, or at least been in the same room as. Connecting with people on social media is all well and good, but I want to build real relationships with people where possible. Otherwise the 'lovely/ gorgeous comments and the hearty emoticons feel a little bit disingenuous for me. I like to be able to know I've looked that person in the eye, and likewise they've met my ugly mug, and know that we really do get each other. That said I've met some awesome 'smokin' buddies', and I really am diggin' this Sisterhood vibe... for reals!