Network for businesswomen in Lewes gets ‘overwhelming’ response

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The organiser of a networking group for female business owners in the Lewes district has been overwhelmed by the response to her new initiative.

The success of Lewes Women in Business (LWB), a not-for-profit local community group set up earlier this year, now with 120 members, has highlighted the demand among local female entrepreneurs for a network of support, mentoring and work opportunities.

The group’s monthly meetings, designed to be inspiring and upbeat, offer a space where members can share experiences and challenges with other small business owners.

This new opportunity helps counteract the frequent sense of isolation felt by small businesses who may find it harder to access professional connections and resources.

Members of Lewes Women in Business come from a broad spectrum of businesses which reflect the rich seam of talent in the Lewes area. Professions range from retailers, designers and communicators to therapists, caterers, photographers and architects. The scale of business varies from those with products stocked at Harvey Nichols to smaller start-ups and freelancers.

Many of the LWB members started their own companies from scratch and work from their kitchens or in studios.

LWB is the first group of its kind in Lewes and was launched in April by Chloe Edwards of Seven Sisters Spices, a local caterer. While setting up her own company, Chloe noticed the absence of a local body specifically devoted to helping Lewes-based women in business. Chloe’s entrepreneurial spirit and keen volunteer ethos motivated her to establish LWB.

She said: “Having spoken to other small business owners in Lewes, we wanted to make the most of the strong and diverse skills base in our town. Lewes has a friendly and receptive community of entrepreneurial women willing to share business to business advice and insights. We like the idea of being ambassadors for each other, which suits the mutually supportive nature of the group.”

LWB organised a Pop-up Christmas Emporium on Sunday, December 13 at Pelham House, to show the public some of the members’ products and services. In a town that prides itself on offering shoppers numerous opportunities to support local small retailers at Christmas, LWB’s first ever Emporium attracted more than 300 visitors who bought original, handmade gifts and enquired about bespoke services such as catering or garden design.

Twenty-five Lewes-based business owners were present and a wide range of high quality items were on sale including leather goods, perfumes, jewellery, hats, illustrated prints, ceramics and more.

A voluntary charity collection organised by the LWB Emporium raised £65 for The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Visitors also entered the Emporium’s ‘Sleigh Photo Booth Competition’, and posted the photos on social media using the hashtag #LewesWB.

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/Lewes-Women-in-Business or follow @LewesWB on Twitter.

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