Creating a venue for hire by Shona Chambers
Published on Tuesday 2nd October
If you're a small business in south London you have most likely heard of Space at 61, a small but multi-functional venue for hire that borders Nunhead, Peckham and Dulwich where you can hold a yoga class, a networking event or pop-up restaurant- possibly all in the same day. The former cafe is owned and run by the equally multi-functional Shona Chambers, here sharing the story of how her venue hire and marketing businesses have come to be.
People need places, sounds like an ad slogan, but it's true. Places to meet, places to trade. My business Space at 61 is a venue for hire in Nunhead southeast London, which seeks to address that need. Our unofficial slogan is 'think of us as an AirBnB for business' which seems to help people understand the nature of our business pretty fast.
I first took the lease to Space at 61 in 2012 and ran it as a cafe for 3 years. In that time and since, I have seen more and more public buildings turned into flats, houses, anything but meeting places. I've been asked to consult before on how a local architect firm could establish a space within the community in SE1, which I was more than happy to do. It's about working out what the area needs first and not doing anything without consultation.
The kinds of people who get in touch with me for venue hire? Many and varied. Although I position it as a place for creative use, we also hire out for a range of private events, from family gatherings to business meetings. So a customer may be a Mum looking for a children's birthday party space, or a local maker needing space for a craft workshop.
Our USP, I suppose, is that we've become known as a place for small local business people to use, and come together. To foster that I set up a networking group in January of this year which has blossomed to a really supportive, helpful group of locals. We've had expert speakers come in and deliver talks each month on topics like 'How to build a better business', 'How to write a Press Release', 'How to use Vision in your business'. We average around 25 at each meeting, and the range of job types and careers is always diverse. Hypnotherapists sit next to cake decorators, the conversation flows, and it is just so great to see people working together in the community to actively help each other.
My background originally is marketing, I spent 10 years working in media and financial services companies, specialising in customer insight, but I've worked across several areas including brand communications. I didn't see myself going back to that life to be honest, but after starting Space at 61 it became clear to me that many of my clients needed help with their own marketing, and often asked for my advice. So I decided in the summer, to establish myself again as a marketeer for hire, and have branded that Shona Chambers Marketing. So far I've done lots of really interesting consultations with a view to helping small business owners put a strategy together that will improve their overall marketing plans. I have a few classes that I run, from social media help to marketing for business. And things will expand based on what my customers want. For example I have been asked if I would run a workshop which actually allows people to come out of it with their next year's marketing plan all written down.
If you would like to see the kind of events we are currently putting on then please go to https://spaceat61.wixsite.com/events
Director, Space at 61
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