She Can She Did had been on my list of events to go to for a while having missed their Midweek Mingles last year. So when I spotted it was returning to Bristol, with two amazing Welsh businesswomen on the panel and a whole host of Cardiff supporters heading along to cheer I just knew I had to join in!
Founded by the beautiful Fi Grayson, to quote her website, She Can She Did is “a platform…that puts the spotlight on women in their teens, twenties and thirties who’ve dared to go solo and start their own businesses around the UK” and what a platform it is. Since the Summer of 2017 Fi has been growing this amazing space, through interviews with female founders, a podcast and the Midweek Mingles all across the UK with thousands of women now following along and engaging with what has become a melting pot of stories and inspiration.
After a glorious afternoon in the sunshine and an early dinner catching up with friends old and new we headed across to our venue for the evening. Overlooking the river as the sun came down, Runway East provided the perfect space for a phenomenal 80 women to come together and with the room all set up for a Q&A there was just enough time to grab the first gin of the evening and wish our girls, Rachel and Cath, luck before they took their seats in the spotlight.
The first thing to point out about these mingles is the atmosphere, there are smiley faces everywhere and everything feels very chilled. Fi herself is a complete ray of sunshine and immediately came over to hug each of us as we arrived, introduce herself and find out a little bit about us. Her relaxed boho style and infectious enthusiasm puts everyone at ease and is a speedy reminder that the era of stiff, awkward networking events is over.
As the panel assembled ready for questions we found our seats, each with branded goodie bags neatly placed and an event program on them, and we dove into a good 45 minutes of getting to know the evenings guests. With insightful questions guided by Fi, it was easy to see why these events are becoming such a success. Gone are all the neat and shiny answers, no predictable “just work hard” quotes, instead we got to lift the lid on the highlight reel and find out exactly what has brought each of these women to where they are today. The specific struggles they’ve faced, the honest realities of wearing multiple hats, the inspiration and how it all began. The tales of their hardest days stuck with me the most, Cath from Sadler Jones told a story about a courier losing an order of over 3000 cards on their way to a huge highstreet retailer, and how after countless people refusing to help she ended up tracking down the CEO of the courier company and pleeing with them, the parcel was found within an hour and Cath’s passion, persistence and ability think outside the box, solved a bad day that could have cost her a huge contract. Sasha’s talk about being authentic with your customers and sticking to your guns regardless of whether you break the industry norm also rang particularly true.
At the heart of these events, is a genuine sense of ‘REAL’, and I think that’s what makes them so brilliant, even down to the fact that the 5th panellist (June of Junie Poonie) had to postpone to take of her ill son, with every question and introduction we celebrated the complex balance everyone faces as they negotiate finding their way of doing business and defining success. That is the magic of the Midweek Mingle.
So with goodie bags in tow brimming with treats including first dibs on the new product launch from Cole & Co (!!!) and having enjoyed a few more G&T’s I settled down on a train back to Cardiff full of excitement and with a million idea buzzing around my head. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, whether you run your own business, or dream of doing it one day, or simply want to be lifted up and to meet some new people, the community of networking events around the South West at the moment is the place to be. Putting faces to the names of your favourite independents, hearing peoples stories, bouncing ideas around, it is like reuniting with a cheer squad each and every time. Never have I experienced such comradery and community spirit and every single time I am introduced to someone new, and a new podcast, a new blog, a new idea.
So if you didn’t make it this time then check out the nights beautiful panellists here:
follow Fi along over at @shecanshedid oh and check out on Spotify both her podcast and fellow mingler @alice_benham who’s ‘Starting the Conversation’ series is full of brilliant tips and absolutely MUST be listened to.
See you there next time?