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!"

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