We were lucky enough to be joined on Wednesday by Peter Wallder of Merton Abbey Mills, who gave us a sneak preview of what’s coming to The Colour House Theatre in the next couple of months, as well as what else is going on on the rest of the site.
Probably more than most of us knew – including a regular Blues Club, on the first Sunday of every month and a Comedy Club, on the last Friday of each month, plus plans for a pop-up food festival in April. He also has ambitions to introduce open air film screenings, and longer-term, major expansion plans to develop the theatre and bar area.
We also met Gordon House, his old friend and former BBC drama producer, who’s written an up-and-coming show for the theatre (direction by Peter) called The Princess and The Toad. Suitable for audiences of between 3-100, it will be on The Colour House stage for a week during the Easter holidays (3-7 April)… so a great distraction for little ones, and not-so-little ones too.
It was interesting to hear about Peter’s journey to becoming involved in Merton Abbey Mills, and his long and abiding love for the theatre. For more than twenty years now, he’s been directing and producing plays for The Colour House Theatre, and attributes his happiness in life to the variety and opportunity for reinvention that it gives him. A new show, a new challenge, renewed passion, and fresh applause. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it.
At yesterday’s open forum meeting, WWIB members shared their own personal tips and experiences from being in business. Some great ideas were aired, creating a really interesting discussion – ranging from the importance of dealing with auto-enrolment, to talking about different payment systems and marketing activities, through to general thoughts on integrity, bravery, persistence and the merits of eyebrow tattooing.
Some specific tips included:
If you employ anyone at all, do not ignore the pensions auto-enrolment issue.
Research and get to know your trade press: advertising inserts and editorials all help to promote your business.
Look at WorldPay Zinc for taking card payments on your mobile.
Think about asking for up-front deposits from customers, to reduce and cover the risk of no-shows for appointments.
Learn about your marketplace, and watch what your competitors are doing.
Remember that your customers are your ambassadors.
Pay attention to your website: a good website can transform your business.
Don’t forget there are lots of students around for the summer looking for part-time work.
Take time to get to know and understand your customers, and make their experience of your business personal.
Believe in yourself: keep going and be brave.
And finally, if you weren’t able to make the meeting, and want to add some tips of your own, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.
We had a great turnout at the 18th May members’ meeting to hear from Helen Edwards of The Velvet Daisy. Some of us already knew of her huge talent for creating amazing floral designs, as one of London’s top florists, but it was the other insights she gave us into her world that made it really special.
Who knew, for example, that a vision in white peonies for a wedding could be scuppered by a single buyer cornering the market and buying up the entire supply from New Covent Market? Or that the London 2012 organisers would need almost 5,000 handmade (and technically very difficult) bouquets for the Olympic Games?
We also heard about her corporate and A-lister clients, weddings and other events, managing the business between London and Devon (and the difference in the markets and supplies), and issues like marketing, networking, stock management, buying, the early starts and long days, the chipped nails and the seasonal highlights. And her favourite flowers of all: sweet peas. We also took home a beautiful mixed bunch of flowers each… So thank you, Helen, for a great talk, and thanks too to Sue for organising it: it was a real treat, all round.