I went to my first business networking event recently. I didn’t have a specific goal, I just thought it would be beneficial to meet local business people and was open to seeing where it took me. It wasn’t your typical ‘suits at brunch’ meeting, which helped. It was an evening event with drinks, canapés and a DJ in Exeter, on the side of town where more of the independents and creative businesses are based.
It was a bit awkward at first, introducing yourself to a complete stranger and looking for common ground. But after chatting to a couple of friendly faces I started to find my footing and began to enjoy myself. It was very inspiring speaking to other people who have set up their own businesses and to hear their stories.
I met several people who, like me, had started their businesses in Devon after moving here from London. It seemed that many people had been incentivised to change their lives in terms of location, lifestyle and business, which has created a community of creative entrepreneurs that I hadn’t particularly expected to find. There was a shared desire to build dreams and shape a life that is your own. I found this incredibly motivating and it really aligned with my own goals.
Growing up in Devon I felt that nothing very exciting happened here, and that moving to the city was the way forward, which I did. Having worked in London for 10 years and coming back now as an adult, and a parent, I see it from a new perspective. It’s a beautiful, friendly place with a different approach to life. While it may not quite have the big business and buzz of the city, it does have passionate, creative people who find a way to make it work regardless.
The world is becoming smaller as we are all connected through technology. More people are working remotely across all industries, so location is no longer the be-all and end-all. Fashion is also opening up in many ways, with the traditional business model being challenged and customers engaging through new channels. The fashion capitals are no longer the only place to be, with designers emerging around the globe.
I plan to take the best of this place I call home, combine it with all the experiences I have had working in our fashion capital, and hope that together they create the environment to thrive.