Thursday, 24 September 2015

Sad times

It is with a heavy heart that we write to you to say that we have taken the difficult decision to cancel the Independent Bath awards ceremony next Wednesday.

We simply have not sold enough tickets to break even and we cannot afford to put the event on at a loss.

When we set out to put on these awards we wanted to break the mould for awards ceremonies in Bath and put on a truly celebratory evening for Bath's wonderful array of independent businesses. Since February when we launched Independent Bath we have worked tirelessly to put together an event that we feel does justice to you and your businesses. Some people have commented that the ticket price of £60 was too expensive but without backers, sponsors or advertisers we were entirely dependent upon ticket sales. We have not at any stage considered paying ourselves for our own time as we really did start Independent Bath out of a love for you, the independent business owners of Bath. As a result of all this we were happy that we managed to keep our ticket price at less than half that of some of the city's other awards whilst still planning an evening that would be fun and above all else memorable and beneficial to your business.

We were delighted that so many businesses took the time to enter but sadly this has not translated into ticket sales. What we were very keen to preserve was the integrity of the event we wanted to put on - we didn't want this to simply be a diner or a networking drinks. We wanted to put on a spectacular celebration of your businesses as one of the truly unique things about the city of Bath.

Our judges spent an unpaid evening at the beginning of September discussing (sometimes very passionately and heatedly!) who should win each category. This was an incredibly inspiring evening and we all came away from the judging night feeling proud to live and work amongst such wonderful businesses.

We have decided to announce the winners online next Wednesday from 6pm so that all the time and effort you and our judges have put in is not wasted. The artist who is making the awards has nearly finished them and so once the winners are announced we can arrange for these to be collected.

We fully plan to come back bigger and better next year so watch this space because your feedback will be central to how we grow.

If you have bought tickets you will receive a separate notification from Komedia about this and your refunds.

Many thanks again for all of your support over the last eight months.

Sarah and Erica xx

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The Nominees for the Independent Bath Awards 2015 are...

...drum roll please! These are the great and the wonderful, the big and the small, the strictly local and the widely international, they are our 2015 Independent Bath Awards nominees:

Best Independent cafe
The Thoughtful Bread Company
Metropolitan Cafe

Best Independent Restaurant
Green Park Brasserie
The Cowshed Bath
The Olive Tree
Best Independent Retailer
A Yarn Story
Chanii B Ltd
Uber Clothing Ltd
The Foodie Bugle
The Green Stationery Company
Magpie & Bear
Pencil Tree
Henny & Joe's
Beyond The Kale

Best Artist/illustrator 
Pencil Tree
Emma Rose Art Works
Fantasy Faces

Best Independent Food Producer
The Organic Cake Company
The Thoughtful Bread Company
Castlemead Poultry
Four Legged Fancies
Henny & Joe's
Beyond The Kale

Best Independent florist/Horticultural Business
Manage My Garden
Bath Garden Design

Best Independent Guest House/Hotel
Number 68
The Queensberry Hotel

Best Independent Female Business owner
A Yarn Story
Chanii B Ltd
The Organic Cake Company
Uber Clothing Ltd
Sal's Kitchen
Exercise Easy
Passionflower Creations
Magpie & Bear
Four Legged Fancies
Incognito Social
Emma Rose Art Works
Lane House Arts 
Bella Boho Gifts
Prosecco Watch

Best Independent Pub/Bar
Common Room
The Bell Inn
St. James Wine Vaults

Best Innovation/Idea
Sentia Yoga
Sal's Kitchen
The Green Stationery Comapny
Henny & Joe's 
The Pizza Bike
Prosecco Watch

Born in Bath
Emtone Print
Four Legged Fancies
Henny & Joe's
The Pizza Bike

Best International Success story
Green Park Brasserie
The Makery

Best Independent Health/fitness/sport Business
Zest Bootcamp
Sentia Yoga
Exercise Easy
Relentless Trainting
Beyond The Kale
Best Independent Children's Business
Curtain Up Theatre School
Fantasy Faces

Best Independent Dog
A Yarn Story - Peaches
Emtone Print - Dottie
The Green Stationery Company - Sasha
Magpie & Bear - Wookiee
Sonistics - Minnie
Incognito Social - Nikita
The Makery - Rufus
Bella Boho Gifts - Smudge
Best Independent Hair and Beauty
Number Three
Frontline Style

Best Independent Gallery
Rostra Gallery
David Simon Contemporary
Quercus Gallery
Emma Rose Art Works
Lane House Arts

Phew! What a list. We are delighted

Monday, 14 September 2015

The emotional process of judging

Fresh from a night spent with our esteemed judges we are full of pride and sheer joy at the wonderful work that Bath's Independent Businesses do.

At Society Cafe, with food (and a little wine truth be told) we sat with our Judges Adrian Campbell Howard, Emma Savage, Mick Ringham, Melissa Blease and Richard Daws and watched as they debated fervently about all of the wonderful business that nominated themselves for this year's awards. And what an inspiring evening it was; our judges spent the evening talking about the passion, hard work and dedication that each and every one of our nominees displays on a daily basis. We can't wait to share with you some of the lovely things that the judges said as we went through the process. Some categories were unanimous and some were hard fought but what made us really happy was the care and attention they took over ach and every one of the nominations.

We have come away from the night buzzing, inspired and eager to put on the best awards that we can to celebrate just how great the independent business in Bath really are.
Our judges hard at work

Sunday, 12 July 2015

New award categories added

After spending some time out and about talking to as many of you as possible we have now added some extra award categories.

You can now also ad you business to Best Independent Hair and Beauty and Best Independent Gallery.

We have also extended the deadline for entries until 26 July to give you all a little bit more time!

What it's all about

This week has been our kind of week. This week we had the time to get out and about and meet lots and lots of brilliant Indies, all doing their own thing in their own wonderful ways.

One of the reasons we started the whole Independent Bath project was to shout about the great independent businesses that really make Bath what it is. What would Bath be without it’s thriving indie cafĂ© and restaurant sector? Without the plethora of markets and the passionate retailers bringing Bathonians and tourists alike pretty much everything they could need or desire? Without business owners committed to keeping the money spent in Bath in the city, benefiting us all (we’ve heard it said that if we all spent £100 more per year in indies and extra £3 MILLION would be generated in our economies? It would, we suggest, be much like any other city, just with prettier buildings and lots of bored tourists..

This week we hung out in Maragret’s Buildings at Uber (great chat and AMAZING BOOTS!), The Foodie Bugle (standard fabulousness from Silvana and her team) and Gallery Nine (seriously lovely gallery with everything from fine ceramics to hand crafted jewellery and an owner with a lovely story good enough for it's own blog post); and we chatted to the fabulous indie traders of Walcot street from Meticulous Ink at one end to FigStore and Katherine Fraser at the other. We met tonnes of really passionate indies on Barlett Street and heard about plans for a great street party (more when know). We spent time in Owl in the Ivy hearing about plans for their next supper club and their summer refurbishment and we (of course) had copious cups of wonderful coffee and food courtesy of Society Cafe and The Thoughtful Bread Company.

But this week we also got to do something for someone who isn’t even yet an indie. This week we met with Bath Spa graduate Naomi Stearn who we are hoping to work with over the coming months. Naomi is an illustrator who quite frankly deserves to go places, but, as a recent graduate she has yet to set herself up and was struggling to know where to start. We were delighted to be able to put her in touch with some other amazing illustrators (if you haven’t checked out Ben Rothery yet then get your skates on and bag one of his fantastic anthropomorphized animals). We also got to offer her some work for the awards ceremony which will not only look beautiful but gives a chance to someone at the very beginning of their career.

We are not saying that we are wonderful benevolent people who have the magic ability to further people’s careers. But what we do have in bucket loads is a passion about the independent businesses in Bath and all we can do is hope that a little bit of passion goes a long way.

Sarah, Erica and Naomi Stearn

Bath's 'Artisan Quarter' Walcot Street
Uber on Margaret's Buildings
Beautiful detail at The Fig Store
Meticulous Ink on Walcot Street

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Deadline extension

We have been out and about (we'll get to you soon I promise!) recently and it has become apparent that time is tight for many of you. With this in mind we have decided to extend our deadline for entries!

The deadline for entries is now 26 July

In addition to giving those of you who are already filing in your applications more time it also gives us the chance to reach out to even more indies over the coming two weeks.

Please continue to spread the word about these awards and don't forget to click the link at the bottom of the How to enter the awards page to auto-tweet your support once you have entered!


Sarah & Erica

Friday, 3 July 2015

Guest blog from Society Cafe's Adrian Campbell-Howard

We are delighted that one of our judges has agreed to share with us some of the reasons that Bath is the perfect city for his business. Adrian Campbell-Haward co-owns Society Cafe with his wife Jane and he was one of the first people we asked to be a judges. His first words after a resounding "YES!" were about the incredible community of independents that Bath has to offer so we asked him to write about it for you.

"When we decided to move back from Marrakech in 2011 we could have picked anywhere in the UK to settle. Bath appealed on so many levels – great open spaces, schools, beautiful architecture, rich history – but what really swung it was the positive energy of the place. 

Jane and I spent weeks pounding the streets, striking up conversation with whoever we could, to get a feel for what really made the city tick and the huge sense of pride and positivity that Bathonians exude was overwhelming!  There is much to be proud of but one of the things that people talked about the most was the incredible array of independents which everyone feels very protective of.

Delving deeper, knowing that we would be setting up ourselves, we discovered that there is a real network ‘at work’. All of these independents support and encourage one another in a way that is pretty rare.

When we set up the first Society on Kingsmead Square the warm welcome and surge of support that we had from Bathonians was kind of shocking in a way. We were incredibly nervous and it was so unexpected and wonderful! But what was even more surprising was the encouragement that we had from other local coffee shops and businesses.

We had so many customers coming in that had been sent to us by other indies, encouraging them to try us, other businesses shared normally closely-guarded supplier information and sent us down the right path, listened to our concerns and put a positive spin on them... It was humbling and has really shaped the way we move forward. 

Our whole team feels honoured to be a part of this independent scene and grateful to have learnt that this mutually supportive way of working is the way to do it. It feels good! 

We all now take great pleasure in offering whatever help we can to other businesses too.  This comes in the form of giving free advice, putting people in touch with each other, creating twitter and instagram buzz or sometimes just being there as a shoulder to lean on. It’s something that we will strive to use as a model wherever we open up. Spread a bit of this unique Bath love around!"

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Tickets are now on sale!

We are ever so excited to announce that tickets for our first Independent Bath Awards are now on sale. 

We are still beavering away in the background sorting out the details and trying to make sure that you have the best night celebrating the brilliance of all your wonderful businesses but we can tell you this:

  • The event will be at Komedia on Wednesday 16 September.
  • There are two ticket prices: for £60 you get a welcome drink, three course meal from Komedia's multi-award winning kitchen, the award ceremony itself and Komedia's flagship club Night Motorcity playing the best in soul funk and motown into the early hours. For £20 you can come and have a welcome drink, the award ceremony and Motorcity...all the fun for a fraction of the price so that no one has to miss out on grounds of price
  • The event will be hosted by a soon to be announced Komedia veteran
  • There will be pre-diner entertainment...we are still working on this one but we hope to bring you some awesome music from a local band
  • The evening will not be black tie - come in whatever makes you feel fabulous - we will certainly be in our finery
  • Our secret squirrel go-to photographers will be on hand to take some truly memorable pictures of you all in your finery!
  • AND if you want to give all your staff a big thank you but can't afford lots of tickets then all your staff can come to the club night afterwards ABSOLUTELY FREE. Simply let us know how many and we will add them to the guest list (on a first come first served basis).
To book your tickets click here keep spreading the word to all your indie colleagues about the awards and don't forget to ENTER HERE!

Friday, 12 June 2015

Guest post from inside an indie

Tamsyn contacted us a while back because she is passionate about working for an independent business and we love her insight into what makes indies special to work for:
Tamsyn our guest editor
For the past two years I’ve worked part time at Magpie and Bear, an accessories boutique in Bath directed by Karen Keenan. What initially began as a few hours flyering when the shop first opened soon grew into a weekend position as a retail assistant and has since developed to three days a week in our new premises at number 7 Green Street. Over the years I have worked this job alongside summer positions and full time study and it has been a great experience thus far.
I wanted to turn things around and share some of the reasons why I love working for an independent, in the hope that it might inspire others to take up a position in one of the many independent businesses in Bath.
The vast majority (98%) of independents employ less than 10 people, therefore it’s likely that when working for one of these businesses you become part of a tight knit team. You are treated as a person, rather than another number on the payroll. You’ll probably get to know your boss and colleagues well and if you’re lucky like me, you’ll feel genuinely looked after and appreciated by your employe. This leads to great working relationships based on the ability to give and take. For example, during my most busy (and stressful!) periods of study I was able to reduce my hours as needed. On the flip side, when my boss has required extra cover, I have been happy to help out. A level of mutual respect can be developed where flexibility on both parts is valued. I know it is important to give plenty of notice when time off is required and by doing so, I know that every effort will be made to grant my request. It’s easy to ascertain a common ground when working for a small company and when each part is invested in the businesses success a good working dynamic can be established.
There is a certain pride and loyalty that comes from working for an independent. You feel part of a team, you know you are valued and you can take pleasure in what you do. Having been with Magpie and Bear since it first opened two years ago I’ve had the opportunity to see the business grow and go from strength to strength. I’ve been a part of this business’ journey and I’ve been able to witness first-hand the hard work that goes into it, as well as get the sense that I might have contributed in some small way to its success. I cannot stress enough how rewarding it is to feel valued and part of a team all working towards a common goal; based on a firm, caring and thoughtful philosophy.
Working for an independent and particularly working alongside your boss or the director of the business, provides a unique chance to learn about how a business is run and get a behind the scenes look which might not be feasible in larger firms. Obviously you may not be privy to such information in all cases of working for an independent, but I have learnt a lot about the buying process, working alongside suppliers, developing a website, an online store and more. It gives perspective on how much hard work is required to run an independent business, particularly in the current economic climate and also cultivates a deep appreciation and respect for those who do it on a daily basis.
Before working for an independent retailer I have to admit that I was very limited in terms of the places I ate, drank and shopped. You’d catch me in many of the ‘same old’ chains, sticking to my regular haunts and never daring to try somewhere new. They simply weren’t on my radar! Now however, my eyes are open and I find myself delighted with new finds. I get excited about supporting new ventures within the city. There is nothing better than finding a hidden gem and taking a friend to visit – knowing it will be a unique experience and they aren’t likely to find the exact same place a few miles down the road. It helps foster a sense of pride for the city of Bath, knowing how many exclusive places there are available. I now consciously make an effort to support independents as much as I can, whether it means going for dinner at a family run restaurant, or simply buying my bottle of water and a snack from a sandwich shop instead of a large supermarket.

There is something that feels wholesome and good about supporting local, independent businesses through the purchases you make, and this increases tenfold when you find yourself working for one. I encourage anyone who is flexible, loyal, hardworking and looking for employment to consider working for an independent. Give it a try, you might end up feeling like an important part of a team, learning fantastic skills and even better - meeting great new people.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Guest post from Kate Burles of Exercise Easy

We asked you a while ago to email us with suggestions for guest editing the blog. We asked for interesting pieces about your independent businesses and this is our first guest blog from Kate Burles who runs Exercise Easy, an outdoor fitness and personal training business:

"In my experience setting up your own business is a bit like that comparison of a snowball as it gathers pace.  I started Exercise Easy just over five years ago. I probably broke every rule in the book when I started.  All I had, other than my qualifications, was enthusiasm  and a desire to run a personal training and fitness instructors business.  When I look back I went into it completely blind with no money and no business plan and no idea either really.  I literally left my office job one day and started as a PT the next.

I had three clients lined up and a little admin work to supplement my fitness business. Then about a week after I left my permanent job I was lucky enough to get a break and was asked to train a group on behalf of Zita Alves of Zest Bootcamp. Zita basically took a bit of a punt on a rather green around the ears instructor, but it paid off for both of us and I was off and running. Ha! No pun intended.

As my personal training business grew in Bath I wanted to develop my fitness sessions as well. I felt there was a gap in the market for a high intensity Saturday morning session. I wanted to stay on the Bear Flat side of the city so I applied to Beechen Cliff School to use the sports hall from 0830 to 0930.  Initially, it was quite a small group but over the past year it has grown considerably, as has the intensity of the class, but then it was never meant to be for beginners.  I am always amazed so many people are prepared to get up early to be pretty well ‘beasted’ for an hour and then turn up again the next week to do the same.

The Saturday class has been a real turning point for me, as the obvious next step was to set up my own week day sessions, which I launched at the start of this year. I run these from the small playing field at the top of Entry Hill. Initially I drew on people who I already knew from around the Bath area, but Entry Hill really is the perfect spot, as it is very visible from the road.  I have gained a fair number of clients who have just walked passed at the right time and we are making friends all the time with dog walkers and passers by – yes honestly!

For me, Bath has been a good place to start a business.  It’s a small and compact city which makes it a little easier for a new business to get going; you can draw clients from all sides of the City and once words starts to get around its that old snow ball again - work just builds from there.  Within Bath there is a lot of competition for work.  I have come across quite a lot of other personal trainers and fitness instructors, but on the whole everyone is supportive and helpful and we all seem to be able to exist along side each other. I trained with Body Development on Windsor Bridge for a number of years and learned a tremendous amount from the owners, Tom and Karen Crudgington. I not only learned how to be an effective PT and instructor, I also saw my own  fitness levels go through the roof. Recently, however, I have started training with Cross Fit Bath and that is bringing another dimension to both my training and to my classes.  Again, the instructors are very generous with their technique help and advice and let’s face it we can always learn from others in the business.

All in all Bath has been pretty good to me so far. It has given me a living that I love, introduced me to a number of excellent professionals who are helping me on my own fitness journey as well as in business, and enabled me to make some fabulously supportive friends and clients. I couldn’t ask for much more from a city."