Do markets still have their pulling power for businesses?

Small Business Saturday is always a busy time of the year for small and growing businesses.  However, this year I focused on markets and the opportunities they present for small and growing businesses today.

Over the past few year, popups and boutique markets are part of the lexicon we use for the opportunities ‘market’ type events provide small and growing businesses today!

But the question is; how beneficial are ‘markets’ in today’s economy?

This year I visited Greenwich WinterTime Festival – a month-long outdoor event at Greenwich Royal Old Naval College Within the festival there are pods for small and growing businesses to sell and promote their business.

Camera 2017-12-01 032

The business owners opt to trade over the entire event or are provided with flexible options over the course of the month.

greenwich-wintertime-festival--1542842016-300x300As this is a new festival, with no track record, the emphasis has been focused on bringing quality and exclusive businesses on board with a strong business identity online.  Whether they have high street presence or utilse online portals like ETSY, the aim is to bring the online experience to real life, as well as to provide fans and soon to fan the opportunity to sample, touch and feel these bespoke products.

After the first few days of trading, many of the businesses felt that they made back their money they spent on their pods – which is great.  However, one observation is that many of these businesses see markets and pop-ups as supplementary revenue-generating opportunities and not a main source of income.

The businesses that go down this route also see this as part of their marketing and promotion.

The correct markets, pop-ups, and festivals allow many small businesses to test and receive customer feedback.





Take action!

Good Morning,

Sorry, I have been missing in action, but lack of organisation and in some instances – focus; meant that I neglected this little world I had created, to share all things I love.

However, I am back and aim to stay consistent.  Look out for a new post every Wednesday and Sunday.

This post is dedicated to all of those people who feel marginalised or unheard.  Please be persistent.

I read an article in the Guardian about a blind entrepreneur – Disability is uncomfortable she never saw her self as disabled, until the world pointed it out to her.

However, the world’s discomfort has made her a teacher to us all.  She is teaching us how we can include people with disabilities in our workforce.

I had two conversations yesterday about what is ‘normal’? On whose metrics are we measuring ‘normality’?

We are in exciting times and we need to embrace the changes that lay ahead.  So ask questions?  Investigate the views of others? It may not be correct based on your standards, but it will allow you to gain a perspective of the other person’s viewpoint.

Have a great day!

My name is Nicola and this is my blog!

How does life go on, even through a crisis?

I remember reading an article or hearing an interview about war-torn Syria, and in the article, a young woman described how life goes on even during a war.  Now, it never occurred to me about the practical logistics of the people who are indirectly affected by a serious crisis.

The reality; there are many businesses, lives, and events that continue outside of the main crisis, although they live and exist within direct contact of the situation.  These individuals sit in a position of having to walk the fine line of remaining focused on their personal endeavors at the same time responding to the needs of victims.

This post is inspired by the fire at Grenfell Towers, West London, where one of the key issues of discontent and anger is the social and economic divides.  Now as I write this post we are in the throngs of the emotion of victims, families and the local community.

People are responding in mass making contributions, donating money, time and resources. Giving a caring hug and a listening ear.

However, my questions are, what happens beyond the current impact?

  • What is happening to the local business who may have employed and supported local people?
    • Will they survive?
    • Will there be jobs for people to go back to?
  • What happens to the employees who may lose their jobs or will not be paid due to their absence?
  • What happens to people on zero hours contracts?
  • What happens in the future, when these victims (direct & indirect) are seeking employment, will their connections to this event, place them in a marginalised position.

One of the issues I am concerned about is what happens when the eyes of the public have shifted to something else.  (Similar to parents with a new child, life really begins after everyone has left, the home after the initial excitement).

The same is true of trauma and a crisis.  In the midst of the incident, people can become very motivated to provide solutions.  However, what happen months, and years later.  How are we treating and managing those people?

I think people forget, that life is made of those seconds and not just of those big moments.

So, I am thinking about what happens after the fact?

  • How can businesses show compassion?
  • What can I do to help build sustainable businesses?
  • How can the small businesses of today be the compassionate multi-national employers of tomorrow?

I am sad that a crisis has to bring about the neccessity for compassion in business.

Deep in thought

My name is Nicola and this is my blog.  I write about things I love and consider important.

This post focuses on compassion in business.


The turning point for Bloggers

Today in London, on the day after the tragic fire at Grenfell Towers, we are already in the throes of speculation and recriminations.

However, in a time where ‘lessons are always learnt’ there is one area I want to cover – the power of the blog or Influencer, especially in this instance.

As the news broke, I became quickly aware of an article that was posted on the blog Grenfell Action Group, In addition, I have heard of a few other bloggers who posted articles to voice their concerns about the dangers that were looming.

I have always seen that the power of Influencers, across all sectors, as being very important within the landscape we live in today.  The curators of these platforms can provide an unfiltered voice to issues or businesses that are not seen as sexy or enticing to mainstream press.  But their independent voices and regular content can prove powerful.  Influencers can warn, educate, inform and entertain.

There are many nuances to be being a successful Influencer.  However, one of them is about writing about and serving your community.



Keep writing.  Consistently serve your core audience and keep being persistent.  Eventually, your tribe will grow.



Get involved in the conversation.

The Power of Words by Dr Maya Angelou

Your words have power.

You never know who is watching or whose life you are impacting


The Power of Words – Dr. Maya Angelou

“Words are things, I’m convinced.  You must be careful about the words you use, or the words you allow to be used in your house.

In the Old Testament, we are told in Genesis, that in the beginning was the word, and the word was God and the word was with God.  That’s in Genesis. 

Words are things, you must be careful. Careful about calling people out of their names, using racial pejorative or sexual pejorative and all that ignorance, don’t do that.  

Some day we will be able to measure the power of words.  I think they are things, I think they get on the walls, they get in your wallpaper, they get in your rugs, in your upholstery, in your clothes and finally into you.”

What makes one race afraid of another?

There are many things I would like to study and anthropology is one of the topics I would love to dedicate some time to studying.

As a marketing professional, I am interested in human behaviour, I am intrigued at the ways societies have evolved and what creates a shift? I have found it very interesting to hear the change of rhetoric over the years as social media amplifies the voices of different cultural groups. I am not a major in this area yet, but there are certain things taking place in society today, that is breaking the status-quo and changing the common norms.

However, way are people afraid of change, especially within race, in 2017, 50% of society is saying ‘TIME FOR CHANGE’ and as a result, other marginalised groups are supporting that call for change.  2017 kicked off with millions of women saying change. However, the movement triggered a global desire for emancipation from the same old, stale society norms, to create a ‘new normal’.

  1. However, particular cultural groups are afraid that their historical behaviour will be reflected and inflicted on them.  Although, (as the saying goes – revenge is sweet).  Many people who are seeking ‘change’ have recoginised that, that behaviour of our society is a pathology of the current system, and therefore people are seeking equality through a loving and kinder route.  This is being reinforced and demonstrated through the growth of the Mindfulness Sector, Yoga, Meditation and much more.
  2. Uncertainty about what we want.  It is so much easier to push against something we don’t want, but harder to create something that we do want.  Therefore, fear is created as a result of that uncertainty.
  3. Social Media and mobile phones make you face your indiscretions.  It is harder in today’s society to hide from your negative behaviour as you visual evidence reflects and reminds you as well as others of your behaviour.

As mentioned, I am interested in what makes people tick, how we got to where we are now and what the future holds.

I would love to have a great discussion with you, so connect with me and let me know your thoughts!

My name is Nicola and this is my blog!


Why should we care about your business?

I was recently interviewed on International Women’s Day about women in business.  During the interview, the host asked, “Why should we care about your business?”  I answered honestly and from the heart.  However, the question got me thinking about my clients and other businesses.  Why should we care about your business? Why should people pay attention to you?

You can click on the image to hear my response to the question, why should we care about your business?

This question was further compounded by an interview I watched, with a physicist, who is pioneering groundbreaking cancer treatment using lasers that leaves little or no side effects. Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green shares what inspired her research and what is needed to take it to the next level. What struck me was her persistence of asking this simple question WHY NOT?

In this world of so much noise and ‘look at me’, the question to ask yourself is Why?

  • Why should someone care about your business?
  • Why should we not be able to find a more effective cure for cancer?
  • Why can’t more women receive funding for their business?

I believe in the answer you find the heart of your goal.

My personal final thought?
Deep in thought

I just want to challenge you to ask yourself, WHY you do what you do?  In the answer lies the truth of who you are and your purpose.

My name is Nicola and this is my blog.

When silence is the loudest message

Sometimes when you are in the midst of trials and tribulations, silence provides solitude in a way that no other state can.  It provides you with an opportunity to reflect, listen to yourself and contemplate the next right move.

As with the rest of the globe, I cannot help but be aware of the massive shift taking place in the world.  It is causing many people to come together to fight against negative attitudes and behaviours.  However, I am very much interested in what we are fighting for.

What do we want to see?

I am a massive fan of the quote by Mother Theresa


When I get silent I think about the contribution I am making on this earth and the things I can do to add to the solution and not just add to the warriors fighting for the solution.

  • My question is do you ever get silent?

Hidden Figures/Hidden Talent – Valentina Karellas


Name: Valentina Karellas

Business: Valentina Karellas – Made of London (Womens Knitwear Clothing brand)

Website link:


Valentina (a truely hidden and shy figure in business) created a sustainable approach to urban chic. London’s antidote to fast fashion. Where every piece of knitwear is one-of-a-kind. That’s because we use surplus yarn from large factories that would otherwise have gone to waste. Seeing the impact of fashion waste first hand, Valentina has made the main goal and ethos to be sustainable. The collection is made to order, zero waste, this means no overstocking, no discounting, just buying consciously, great quality pieces that look stylish and chic.


Valentina, what is the inspiration behind Valentina Karellas the brand? My original focus was to bring back manufacturing to the UK.  I felt the industry was yearning for good quality knitwear that the UK could have pride in.  However, I then found that finding factories to make my designs were few and far between, therefore, I took the plunge and created my own mini production.  I found by default, (through having the machines and know how), that I was led to observe all the waste produced.  This made me ask myself; if I as one small brand was creating all this very expensive waste, what was the impact globally from the waste the rest of the fashion houses produce?  What responsibility do we have as producers in keeping fashion chic, beautiful, yet sustainable?

What are the key foundations of your business? Essentially, chic, sustainability and quality are my foundations of my business. Keeping the designs and ideas fresh, yet creating long lasting, timeless pieces – meaning you don’t need to follow trends or buy items that will only last a few months.

How has your business grown since you first launched? My business is only 6 months old, still in its early stages, however, since the launch in August 2016, I have had my own solo pop-up store in Clerkenwell, which has gained a whole new clientele for the brand, there has been steady organic brand awareness through referrals and social platforms. I have also been selected by the Department of International Trade (DIT) to showcase my work and brand in Hong Kong to encourage British Brands to export internationally, this is very exciting, as my brand will be seen on the opposite side of the world where they appreciate quality and style from the UK.


What have been your biggest struggles since launching? Being seen and heard, I am definitely plankton in a sea of whales, even though my message is clear and admired, there are far more brands out there with big budgets for marketing to demonstrate their uniqueness, however, this has just meant I have had to work harder and learnt a great deal, which only comes with having your own business.

What have been your greatest achievements? Soon after launching I was selected to be in the directory of Not Just a Label, it may have been small for a lot of brands, but I like the idea that I am up there with all these amazingly talented Designers – my peers, and I am proud to be alongside them. As well as being selected by DIT to showcase my work in Asia, there was a lot of applicants, therefore, I am very pleased they took the risk on me, as it allows the fashion industry insiders to see my work in a Hong Kong, an amazing fashion hub.

What differentiates you from your competitors? The main difference is I don’t think there are many luxury Knitwear brands that also produce in London, there are a couple knitwear companies that produce outside of London. I also feel my designs are not completely traditional in terms of knitwear, I like to play with lines and colours. I also don’t see other brands as my competitors, I see them as my peers where we can learn from each other.

How would you encourage someone who wants to use your service? The bottom line is money.  Will someone spend a significant amount more for a piece of clothing? Well, when people understand the true cost of buying ‘disposable’ clothing, they will think twice about buying a £3 top, but expressing the long lasting look and design, for a piece that can be worn for 30 years and passed down generations, that I would say is a huge saving.

What are your goals for your business over the next few years? To continue as I am going, spreading the word on sustainable fashion and the effects of fast fashion on the environment. I would like to build brand synergies with tech companies, mixing fashion with tech, as well as build international stockists. The end goal is to fundamentally go back to my original idea which is bringing back manufacturing to the UK and hopefully London, train already talented people to make great quality, long lasting clothing.

What is your message to the reader? Don’t be afraid to start your journey, don’t be afraid to be different, step away from the norm and be brave. Think about what you buy, what you wear and the quality it brings to your life and the people around you.

Deep in thought
Deep in thought

Valentina, your story is perfect for my blog and this series.  You exemplify the true meaning of an emerging, sustainable brand, in my eyes.  As you grow and blossom, I wish you so much success and hope you grow from strength the strength.

I love your ethos and what you stand for!

Keep up the good work.

My name is Nicola and this is my blog!

Hidden Figures/Hidden Talent – Natasha Puri



Name: Natasha Puri
Business: emp(a)t(h)y



Natasha Puri is a student studying Global Public Health and Social Entrepreneurship at New York University. Natasha has been an active youth advocate, promoting public health prevention efforts and health policy. Most notably, she is working on a mobile app with other students called, emp(a)t(h)y, an innovation to combat mental health around the world.  On January 31st Natasha presented her vision on how to combat mental health at the Youth Marketplace on Social Innovations for Health & Wellbeing event hosted at the United Nations by Every Women Every Child in partnership with the Office of the President of the General Assembly supported by the SDG Media Zone.


What is the inspiration behind your business and organisation?  As college students in New York City, we have seen at first-hand the prevalence of mental health. Although resources are available for mental health, there are so many barriers that prevent youth from seeking them. In fact, many find them unhelpful as youth often seek for understanding, or empathy. After conducting numerous interviews, we were inspired by the ability for an individual to transform someone else’s life – through meaningful discussion and peer-to-peer connection. Humans have the ability to feel, understand, and relate – a certain consciousness that technology does not have.

What are the key foundations of your business?  Empathy serves to provide the human-to-human connection that is most beneficial when confronting adversity. We understand the value of empathy, and its ability to connect people on the basis of shared experiences. Our goal is to combat mental health by humanizing healthcare.

How has your business grown since you first launched?  Our business is currently in the preliminary phase. Six months in, we’ve developed a scalable and sustainable business model that is fit for a global platform. We initially targeted college campus where students felt a gap in mental health resources. After receiving positive feedback, we thought why not take our local initiative to a global platform? We were operating in an environment that already had resources available and thus decided to take this innovation to locations where resources were little to none

What have been your biggest struggles since launching?  Given the gravity of mental health and the consequences, we want to ensure the app is a safe space where individuals can trust one another. In addition, as we are trying to implement the model in different places, we need to adjust it to fit the respective market. This includes being aware of cultural and social norms.

What have been your greatest achievements?  Youth have truly begun to value our idea and mission – this is a huge achievement. Through our research and marketing efforts, we are developing a strong foundation of individuals who can not only use the app, but also benefit from it. Such support is integral to our innovation and its model.

What differentiates you from your competitors?  We are not a mental health intervention or treatment, but rather a social innovation that provide an alternate outlet for individuals who are experiencing adversities. Our idea of empathy – shared experiences – rather than sympathy is what differentiates us. We are removing the stigma surrounding mental health, and providing an anonymous space for discussion.

How would you encourage someone who wants to use your service?   This service is a great way to engage with someone who has gone through a similar experience! Whether it is anxiety due to a bad boss, or dealing with the loss of a friend – there are some situations that warrant an understanding. Perhaps another individual can give advice that is helpful or some reassurance, which certainly goes along way. Moreover, you have the opportunity to help someone else! For example, parents of children who are battling cancer and wish to share support, advice, and encouragement.

What are your goals for your business over the next few years?  We want to expand our user base and target schools starting in the United States and India. Having these two environments to pilot our app will surely be advantageous to our scalable model. Overall, we want to decrease the burden of mental health illnesses and work towards Sustainable Development Goal #3 – “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being.”

What is your message to the reader?   You are not alone! No feeling or experience is too small or too big to overcome. Mental health needs to be a discussion, and please be part of it. We need your voice, your experiences – you never know whom you can help.

Thank you
Deep in thought
Deep in thought

Natasha, I am so inspired by the care and love you have for those suffering from mental health.  I believe that in a society where empathy can be lacking, it is heartwarming to know, that innovations like yours, created within the mainstream entrepreneurial environment, places people at the CENTRE.

Thank you for sharing your story and please keep us updated on your progress.

I am Nicola and this is my blog.