Getting to know Anna Søgaard and Kim McBride: founders of SuppHER

“We bring talented women together to create a space where they can shine, whilst raising money and awareness for issues affecting women”

Kim McBride

SuppHER is a Manchester-based supper club powered by women, which has been running events around the city for the past two years. 

Founders Anna Søgaard, sous chef at Erst and Kim McBride, former sommelier at Erst and The Creameries and now support worker in the Social Care sector, wanted to create a platform for celebrating female talent in the hospitality industry, whilst also using their skills to raise money for charities supporting women. 

We recently caught up with Anna and Kim to find out about creating spaces for women in hospitality, supporting communities and what people can expect from their upcoming International Women’s Day event.

Image: © Jane Walton

What inspired you to create SuppHER?

A: When Kim and I met while working at Erst, we would often speak about issues affecting women in our community. Eventually we decided to throw a charity dinner to support Trafford rape crisis which is where Kim was volunteering at the time. We wanted to use our skills to bring people together over food and wine and shed light on the issues we cared about while trying to make a difference in any way we could. Later on, SuppHER grew into the collaborative events that they are now that allows us to showcase the many female talents in hospitality. 

You donate your profits to a number of women’s charities, can you tell us a bit about the charities that you’re raising funds for?

K: We donate predominantly to small, local women’s charities. When we started SuppHER I was volunteering for Trafford Rape Crisis and just wanted to tell the world about the amazing work that they do, that’s why TRC were the first charity that we donated to. Since then, we have raised money for MASH, who support sex workers in Manchester with provisions, counselling, a needle exchange and so much more. We have donated to Women for Women International who support female survivors of war to rebuild their lives; HostNation UK who are a refugee-befriending charity and our IWD event will raise money for Manchester Women’s Aid who support victims of Domestic Abuse.

Anna Søgaard – Image: © Jane Walton

One of the main goals of SuppHER is to create a space for women, who are the some of the women you would like to platform?

A: After the first couple of supper clubs we hosted, we had a huge outpour of women contacting us asking if they could get involved. I think that says everything about the women in our industry. They all wanted an opportunity to support not only the women struggling in our community, but also each other. We were so overwhelmed by it and that’s when SuppHER became collaborative dinners. It’s amazing getting to show people how much female talent our industry has. Women in general are so often overlooked and don’t get the same exposure that men do in hospitality. 

Can you tell us about the supper clubs you have hosted to date?

K: SuppHER started out as just me and Anna serving 15 guests at Trove but it instantly grew when women in hospitality offered to help out. The wonderful Maya from Breadflower and incredibly talented Jane Walton volunteered at our second event and then women wanted to collaborate with us from Where The Light Gets In, The Creameries, Flawd, Erst and so many other fabulous restaurants and bars in Manchester. As SuppHER has grown we have managed to maintain the initial ethos; we bring talented women together to create a space where they can shine, whilst raising money and awareness for issues affecting women.

Image: © Jane Walton

What can people expect from your upcoming International Women’s Day supper club?

A: This will be our first all day event. We’ll be hosting a series of hour long workshops with some of our favourite local creatives. Then in the evening we will be serving a four-course dinner with wine pairings. We’ve put together an incredible line up of chefs in Manchester doing amazing things. They’ll each be doing a course. I’m extremely excited for this menu. Anna Carmichael, Zara Hussain, Caroline Martins and I have put a lot of thought into how we can make this one extra special. And Kim has put together a wine list along with two other talented women in wine, Meg Williams and Emily-Rose Lucas. Well be showcasing some very exciting wines made by some pretty impressive women. All of our profits for this event will go to women’s aid. 

Can you tell us about the workshops at your supper clubs as well?

K: At our event for International Women’s Day, we have an afternoon of workshops planned by some of our favourite female creatives in Manchester at the minute. At 11am Hannah Elizabeth Flowers is hosting a wreath making workshop using gorgeous dried flowers, at 1pm Kat Wood is hosting a printing with plants cyanotype workshop, at 2.30pm Meg Beamish is teaching a group to make their own plant pots and at 4.30pm Jo Payne from Platt Fields Market Garden is going to teach her group to save tomato seeds, sow them and grow them.

Kim McBridge – Image: © Jane Walton

Hospitality is often presented as a male-dominated industry, but there are many talented women within it, do you think supper clubs such as SuppHer have the power to reset the balance?

A: Our hope is that SuppHER and other women-led projects like this will have an impact on the imbalance in power in our industry. We would love for it to have a ripple effect and that exposure will lead to more women in senior roles in food and wine. Until we have more women leading kitchens and restaurants, the industry continues to be a place of inequality that is built from the male view point which simply isn’t sustainable. 

What can we expect next from SuppHER?

Honestly, who knows?! We have more exciting supper clubs in the planning for later in the year and we sell wines for local delivery through our website. We both really just want to keep on supporting women and perhaps we will start taking SuppHER outside of Manchester soon too.


Getting to Know Ola Dabrowska: Co-owner of Kwas Wine Shop & Bar

The co-founder of Huddersfield’s only dedicated natural wine shop & bar talks to us about her roots in hospitality, her passion for art, natural wine and food and her quest to create communal drinking and dining experiences. 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, where you are from and what you do?

My name is Ola Dabrowska and I came to the UK nine years ago from Poland. I am a mum to an eight year old son, a partner, an artist and Kwas owner. In the past, I used to do various things from cleaning to international airport service and hospitality. I’ve always strived to have my own business and thanks to my partner, who is a great person to work with, we were able to create Kwas.

As Huddersfield’s only dedicated wine shop & bar what made you want to start the venture?

As Huddersfield’s only dedicated natural wine shop & bar (just a shop at the moment), we had a few inspirations to create our venue. One of these things was a passion for wine, to be honest we just like to drink it.

Struggling to find a vegan wine was a big reason too, we also aim to have a natural and chemical free products, which is very important for us. We like simple things, in this case less is more and we try to apply this across many aspects of our lives and business. Our shop is for people who value good, natural food, who admire craft and want to drink better.

Ola and her partner Duncan Sime, events manager of local beer institutions Magic Rock and ex-DIY record label boss

What makes Kwas Wine Bar special?

People make Kwas special. Our customers. Lots of them share our passion and we have become good friends now. I feel we’ve created a little community and we are very proud of it, I think Kwas is special because we care, that’s what makes other places special too.

Can you tell us about the wine selection and how you have curated this?

Our wine selection is based on our taste and suggestions from our customers and distributors who are very helpful, and the shop holds 75 different wines, 14 crafted ciders and selection of beers from Magic Rock Brewing down the road. We work with six or seven distributors who work directly with makers around the world.

Our taste is unusual, we like funky wines but this is not everyone’s cup of tea, so we make sure we always have a selection of more classic ones. It’s still exciting when people come in and want to try something out of their comfort zone.

What has the local reception to the bar been so far?

Like I mentioned before, we have lovely customers who return regularly and are always excited when something new arrives at the shop. That local community, including local businesses, have been very supportive and reception has been very good. The more (good) things happening in Huddersfield, the better. We would like Huddersfield to become a destination.

Can you tell us how the pandemic has affected the business and whether you have any immediate plans for the future?

It has affected us in the way that we can’t function as a bar anymore, at least until we legally can, but it does give us time to rethink our idea for the business and look for more opportunities. The sad part of it all is that we must distance from our customers and almost all transactions are made online. We miss people popping in for a glass or bottle of wine and chatting. That is very important. 

Things might not be the same, but we will adapt. The new idea is to become a ‘one-stop shop’ with a range of good quality products from organic veg boxes, sourdough bread and natural wine of course!

What are some of the events planned for later in this year that we can all look forward to?

We would love to keep doing events in the future but at the moment I can’t tell how that’s going to work and what it will be. One of our ideas, cancelled by the current situation, was a little wine festival. We will keep working on that and hopefully it can happen soon.

What do you love about living up north?

I like hills, I grew up in a small town in Poland surrounded by mountains and a lot of nature and the North of England reminds me of my family home and the people are really nice here. I like that we can get on the train and in a few minutes be in the countryside for a nice walk as well as just popping into Leeds or Manchester for a day out.

What are you currently watching, listening to or reading right now?

I watch and read a lot at the moment haha… I’m reading The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka, I can imagine that all natural wine lovers have this book. It’s about the alternative food movement, future of food and agriculture; basically about how less or no interference in farming can save our agriculture. I really enjoy the Polish author, psychologist and therapist Katarzyna Miller, who talks about how to care about people and ourselves which I love to learn about.

I think we completed Netflix! Of course, Tiger King was one of the things we had to watch. I also enjoy documentaries in general, so I watch a lot including reality series like Gemma Collins Diva on Lockdown!



Instagram: @kwasshopandbar

Interview: Jenna Campbell

Feature Image: Andrew Benge