On a rain sodden morning in Euston, I washed up at the Future Foundation’s 2014 marketing conference ‘Not Here To Come Second’. Eloquent and ahead of the game, Futurites pulled me through a whirlpool of Big Data and got me thinking about hashtags – a lot. I filled my tatty exercise book (@IKeepItReal – #SmartPhoneImean). The ‘High Visibility, Weaker Pulse’ talk by Dominic Harrison, Director of Global Trends, was really great and I hope we get a video link to share with Blue Patch members soon.
I felt #blessed as key ‘consumer trends’ formed a constellation of words: trust, authenticity, love, celebration, fun, sustainable, ethical and customer service….. a Blue Patch shaped glowing tag cloud swirled above my head. Thank you Future Foundation, you gave me lunch, OCD with # @, brain fizzle and a heavenly dose of inspiration + it was my birthday and Dominic our eco-champ turned out to be married to my daughter’s history teacher #smallworld.
15:00 hours: rain thrumming on my brolly, I floated down to Mansion House where I was due to attend the Women’s Business Council event. Brolly power being an improvement on the tube, I had time to poke around for ‘people of good character’ and found The Cad & The Dandy. As fast as you could say ‘snip’ I was getting familiar with master tailor Ryan Lovatt (hopefully more dandy than cad) about the UK cloth weaving industry. The C & The D make suits and alter them*, they sell English socks and ties, plus men can dress up in virtual reality via their website. I wonderd if they could make me a tweed ‘Blue Patch’ tunic from offcuts – one that won’t show stains – renaming the shop The Cad, The Dandy & The Grubby Woman. Tearing myself away from charming Ryan, I really fancied a coffee.
Tucked safely within the bosom of St Mary Woolnoth Church, Melina was shutting up her recently acquired coffee van. We had a good old chinwag beneath her giant brolly, but ‘mums the word’ – like secret squirrel we’ll be following Melina’s fortunes as she continues to brighten up everyone’s day and her business takes shape in ‘Wake up and grind the beans’. Meanwhile she’s the right person to buy coffee from, even starting to make healthy bran muffins to prevent constipation in her clients after too many buttery buns.
In the nick of time the bell of St Stephen Walbrook reminded me it was time for the Women’s Business Council annual bash at the Mansion House, home to the Lord Mayor, Fiona Woolf CBE.
I was unsure of what to expect but joy of joys, the love of my life, Dutch marine painter Van de Velde, a God amongst painters with a transcendental grasp of picture space, welcomed me – the Mansion House art collection is staggeringly beautiful.
The atmosphere was convivial as I drifted in to different groups ‘getting things done’, from engaging girls in science, creating flexible working for mums and celebrating the women running start ups. I spoke to Sue O’Brien OBE, CEO at Norman Broadbent about our Blue Patch breakfast meetings, where women (men are welcome too) share ideas such as low budget marketing ideas, cost sharing retail outlets as well as exchanging skills. Isolation is tiring (not least because the hours we keep would be illegal in most workplaces), so we think Blue Patch breakfasts are a great idea to empower people working in their local communities. I’d like to connect our business members to the Women’s Business Council because a power network of politically, socially and environmentally engaged people is where patterns shift especially if connect to the grass roots SMEs run by Blue Patch members.
The welcoming address from the Lord Mayor of the City of London and WBC member, Fiona Woolf CBE was the perfect mix of humour, conviction and stories. I was soon sharing the fact that Crossrail has female engineers with my 17 year old daughter. The WBC Chair Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE (Mite Plc), the Rt.Hon Nicky Morgan MP and John Cridland CBE Director General, CBI all contributed empowering messages. I was fortunate to speak to Sandra Corcoran the Director of Pennine Cycles – brilliantly they are manufactured in Yorkshire, a perfect Blue Patch business. You can find out about the very impressive women (and a couple of guys) on the WBC and the WBC report Maximising women’s contribution to future economic growth.
As ‘cooking for the family multi tasking’ pumpkin hour arrived I had time for one last chat, fortunately it was with Sheila Eaton, Immediate Past President of the National Council of Women of Great Britain. I wanted to tell Sheila about the aims of Blue Patch’s soon to open B 2 B member forums – a good place where our members can share information, link to empowering organisations and help spread the jam as Blue Patch Breakfast meetings start popping up like toast, across the UK. And if you know any budding women science grads check out this competition.
Finally * alter and comment from my 99 year old father, who had lunch with the Lord Mayor at the Mansion House around 50 years ago. The Mayor told dad he had to attend so many lunches that his tailor was having to extend his trousers on a regular basis – well there’s a job for Ryan – better start making skirts.
We hope they filmed the WBC event – video on Blue Patch ASAP.