2021 was an incredible year of publishing for women. From the Northern writers making their mark on the Women’s Prize Futures Award to the authors dominating 2021’s Portico Prize Shortlist, there’s no doubting the talent that continues to emerge from our region.
Creating a list like this isn’t always the easiest task. While Northern women are still drastically underrepresented in literary publishing, narrowing our selection down to such a small number this time was the most challenging part.
We’ll continue to share the latest publications throughout the coming months, but for now, here are 10 books by northern women to read in 2022.
From the author of prize-winning Saltwater comes Milk Teeth, one of our most anticipated books of 2022. A story about love, identity and sensuality, Andrews’ next novel feels like the natural progression from her debut. Centred around a young woman from the North of England, Milk Teeth is set to be another powerful tale about taking up space, navigating the world and the people we meet along the way.
If you’re into literary biographies, cultish creativity and the world of alternative music, you’re going to love Ten Thousand Apologies. Co-written by singer Lias Saoudi and the acclaimed Yorkshire-based author Adelle Stripe, the book offers an in-depth exploration of the UK’s most notorious cult band – Fat White Family. Promising lucidity, humour and a definitive account of the era, this seems to be a must-read for music enthusiasts and culture fiends alike.
For avid non-fiction readers comes a disruptive, powerful and influential read from Bradford-born writer Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan: Tangled in Terror. In a bid to unpack the intrinsic narratives of Islamophobia from our history, society and daily lives, the book shows that until the most marginalised Muslims are safe, nobody is safe. If you’re passionate about current affairs, political meditations and looking past the surface level story, this is definitely one for your reading list.
January marks the publication of the long-anticipated debut from writer Lauren Brown. Hands, a memoir that offers ‘an anxious mind unpicked’, explores a whole host of themes alongside a central desire to uncover the roots of compulsive skin-picking. In the process, the book’s weaving narratives take readers on a journey through a young woman’s life, presenting joy, healing and a love song to the North.
Fitzcarraldo Editions are constantly serving up fresh and thought-provoking literature for their readership to enjoy, and 2022 is no different. York-based Daisy Hildyard’s Emergencyarrives in April, a novel about the dissolving boundaries between all life on earth. Stuck at home alone under lockdown, a woman recounts her 1990s childhood in rural Yorkshire. Dubbed as a reinvention of the pastoral novel for the climate change era, this one is undoubtedly topping our TBRs.
When Danielle Jawando’s powerful And the Stars Were Burning Brightly was published in 2020, it took the YA book world by storm. This year marks the arrival of her next novel, a powerful coming-of-age story about chance encounters, injustice and how the choices we make can completely change our future. When Our Worlds Collided explores the deep-rooted prejudice that exists within the police, media and our society today.
From the prize-winning author of the inimitable Treats and Supper Club comes The Odyssey, a book that promises a satire of modern life. Lara Williams’ latest novel follows Ingrid, a luxury cruise ship worker who is selected for the employee mentorship scheme that pushes her further than she thought possible. Exploring themes of class, consumer capitalism and unexpected voyages, this book is certainly set to cause a stir this spring.
Lovers of crime, take note: Manchester-based Stephanie Sowden’s debut is on its way. Set in modern America, this suspenseful story centres on Reeta Doe, who wakes up in hospital to be told she is responsible for the brutal murder of two women. She cannot answer the FBI’s questions – her only hope is Carol, a journalist who must follow the trail of devastation Reeta left in her wake. If you can’t get enough of a thriller, After Everything You Did is definitely one for the list.
Pragya Agarwal’s non-fiction work is some of the best there is, especially if you appreciate well-researched, fact-driven mediations alongside personal reflections. After the success of (M)otherhood: On the Choices of Being a Woman in 2021, this year offers Hysterical: The Gendered Nature of Emotions. Casting her astute gaze to another angle of feminist thought, the behavioural scientist sets out to chart how emotions really came to be so gendered.
After the storm of a debut that was Ariadne comes Jennifer Saint’s next mythological rewriting, this time bringing the tragic heroine Elektra to life. While focusing on the origins of the Trojan War and the dreadful curse blighting the House of Atreus, Saint is set to take readers on another female-dominated Greek adventure. If you enjoy the likes of Madeleine Millar, Pat Barker and Natalie Haynes, you’ll want to add this one to your 2022 stack.
Beth Barker is a writer and blogger from Blackpool, now working in Manchester. She also co-hosts Up North Books, a podcast celebrating books and writers from the North of England.
Beth wanted to contribute a monthly review to NRTH LASS in order to shine a light on Northern women writing great books. The North is very much underrepresented in publishing and she hopes a monthly review throughout 2021 will showcase the talent Northern women have to offer.
For more book reviews and insights on publishing in the North, follow Beth on Instagram and Twitter.
Not many of us expected a global pandemic and even fewer foresaw the impact it would have on hard-won gains of working women. But as the nation pivots to adapt to the new economic landscape, one business hero is clear on how it should look.
“Facing the floods is one thing; you get on with it and you know what measures you have in place to deal with it. You get through it. But this situation is just something else. I have no idea.” Alison Bartram, 57, owner of Hebden Bridge’s Heart Gallery is musing on the impact of COVID-19 and the West Yorkshire town’s chances of survival as a shopping destination. Catastrophic floods in 2015 temporarily closed many local businesses – Alison, herself, had to shut down for six months to deal with five feet of waste water in her gallery that sells artisan jewellery, ceramics and contemporary art – but as yet, the legacy of this year’s nationwide lockdown is still to be revealed.
And no one, it seems, can give a definite answer on how it will all play out. But current forecasts don’t make for comforting reading – particularly for women. According to research from The Institute for Fiscal Studies and the UCL Institute of Education, nearly 50% of mothers are more likely to have lost their jobs, quit or been furloughed. There are warning cries that we are heading back to the 1950s, such is the expectation that women will pick up the bulk of the care and domestic work. And when the furlough scheme ends and the inevitable widespread redundancies come, it will be women – the ones who have taken the back seat, who have been absent from the Zoom calls in order to pick up the slack of home schooling, cleaning and feeding – who will find themselves facing the workplace guillotine.
Not only that, hospitality and retail – sectors which both employ a disproportionate number of females – are the two industries that have been hardest hit. A recent report by global business consultancy McKinsey has stated that while grocery and online retail has, not surprisingly, increased during lockdown, this increased expenditure has not managed to outweigh the number of closures in non-food retail – clothes shops, homeware, or galleries, like Alison’s. Accommodation and catering are next in the firing line, services vulnerable because it’s difficult to see how they can be performed remotely or with strict social distancing in place.
Rethinking the future
Anyone skimming such reports would be forgiven for thinking the worst. But unprecedented times can give way to unprecedented thinking and one figure who has been a vocal advocate of a fresh approach to business is Kate Hardcastle MBE, known also as television’s Customer Whisperer. Kate, 43, founded business consultancy Insight With Passion (IWP) in 2009 after a stellar career in marketing, which saw her turn around the fortunes of bed manufacturer Silentnight during her time as its head of marketing (“I developed a leading international online retail business in 2004, so still very early in that respect, and that gave me a lot of knowledge about how to help businesses transform,” she explains), train in strategic alliances at global business school INSEAD and win a seat at the boardroom table by the age of 30.
Her time working across Asia in global sourcing – sometimes being the first Caucasian woman many of the factories had seen – and learning both about international business, but also more functional skills such as manufacturing techniques, has meant that she can overlay the operational with the commercial and find common ground. It has proved to be an extremely fruitful mix. “What’s unique about IWP is that I can use my experience in operations, international trade and buying, for instance, and then apply them with the customer-facing side so we find a bridge,” Kate explains.
IWP is, in essence, a transformation business that works with clients across the globe to restructure their current set-up. By reimagining the relationship with the customer (and by walking the shop or factory floor in addition to driving strategic changes), Kate and her team pride themselves on getting to know each organisation they work with and its supply chain and customers, finding creative, workable, and ultimately successful, solutions.
Insight with Passion also looks to transform businesses by also using Kate’s training in strategic alliance and partnerships – often bringing together complementing businesses with similar target audiences to help ideas and projects thrive. “The idea of working together collaboratively has always been our direction when many others would do the opposite,” she says. “We do things differently and it works.”
The facts support this statement. Kate has won countless awards and accolades (including Yorkshire Business Woman of the Year in 2018, the same year she was honoured by the Queen for her services to business) and IWP’s in-built corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme, Access For All, which requires her employees to give 20% of their working hours to start-ups and charities free of charge, is also making waves.
Access For All means that micro-businesses and not-for-profits – often founded by women – get exposed to expertise allowing them to grow and develop, which might otherwise cost them thousands – perhaps best framed as a B2B mentoring scheme. We hear a lot about sending the ladder back down and anyone having heard Kate’s keynote speeches or seen her talk knows she’s a champion for women in business. Access For All is her walking the walk, not just paying it lip service.
Of course, it’s notoriously hard to measure the monetary value of guidance and mentorship but Savannah Roqaa, 24, knows first-hand how useful a guiding hand can be. The Leeds-based make-up artist and part-time nanny found herself stripped of half her revenue stream as social distancing became paramount and to fill the time, began baking, leaving brownies or the ubiquitous lockdown favourite, banana bread, on her friends’ doorsteps.
What happened next takes some believing, but to cut a long story short, Savannah, with the help of various friends’ kitchens, fortuitous sharing on some Leeds United players’ Instagram accounts, and all-night cake-making sessions, has found herself sole founder of a highly successful baking business – The Savvy Baker – all within two months. But it hasn’t been without pitfalls.
“Leeds Council called me and asked if I’d registered the business at Companies House. And I was like, ‘Companies what?’” recalls Savannah. “Tax. Packaging. Premises. I’ve literally no idea.” So when Sara Hassan, 33, Kate’s protege messaged Savannah offering help to start mapping out a long-term business strategy, it couldn’t have been more welcome. “I was just bobbing along so when Sara came out of nowhere… no one has ever done that before, just offered help free of charge. Not unless there’s been an underlying agenda. And it’s so welcome because I think you can have a brilliant idea and a successful business, but make one mistake and it can quickly go south.”
Similarly, Kate – a proud Yorkshire woman who lives outside Wakefield with her husband and three children – has previously given an enormous amount of her time to Welcome to Yorkshire, the county’s regional tourist board. Working with her during that time was Laura Kirk, 34, former Head of Membership, whose job it was to put together free events and workshops for her members to add value to their annual subscription fee. Kate’s sessions focusing on the customer experience – given free of charge as part of Access For All and delivered the sole intent of helping businesses improve their customer offer – were attended by marketing managers of Yorkshire’s big attractions along with proprietors of the smallest seaside B&Bs.
“When Kate spoke you could see people ferociously making notes and action points,” says Laura. “A lot of the businesses simply wouldn’t have had access to that sort of support otherwise – free help for which they’d normally have to pay hundreds of pounds. And Kate broke it down into achievable points, so attendees could go away and implement a couple of changes, then perhaps a couple more. It was practical and inspirational. Kate’s guidance was invaluable.”
Access For All
Corporate social responsibility is often regarded as something only the largest of organisations can accommodate and even then, the amount of time given over to socially conscious programmes is often minuscule compared to IWP’s remarkable pledge of 20%. It’s common to find that employees are given three days a year to volunteer or that a certain amount of monthly revenue goes to a local charity.
“For micro-businesses and start-ups, there really is a need for pro-bono help,” explains Laura, who has seen first-hand how tourism and hospitality ventures can thrive with the right advice. “I’m not sure how all businesses would be able to afford the 20% that Kate has built into her Access For All model but she makes it work.”
Kate and her team have spent a lot of their Access For All quota in places like Hebden Bridge, assisting small independents find their feet again after the floods. “I’ve definitely followed Kate’s mantra and implemented things that she’s said in the past,” says Alison. “She talks about passion a lot and I fully believe that the businesses that survive are the ones where the owners are passionate about what they do. She’s always had that passion and always been really positive.”
Kate, again, has shown she’s ahead of the curve here because for a long time, CSR was merely considered a nicely polished trophy on the corporate mantlepiece. However, increasing amounts of research are pointing towards it being a vital component of customer trust and relationship-building, and equally a surefire way of attracting young, ambitious talent. In 2011, a survey by Deloitte found that 70% of millennials listed their company’s commitment to the community as an influence on their decision to work there. For Sara Hassan and Laura Kirk, and their peer group, giving something back to the communities in which they live and work is as important a part of their job as is their monthly wage.
And let’s not forget that despite the hardships of the last few months, there has been a renewed and welcome onus of the power of community; shopping locally or just checking in on neighbours, offering services and sharing goods, be it a bag of self-raising flour or a dozen hard-to-come-by eggs. And while many are keen to cherish and nurture this focus on community action, it remains to be seen if it can transcend the everyday and move into business, with organisations incorporating the community in their plans, collaborating and partnering with like-minded ventures to share skills and resources.
Certainly, Alison, who as well as running the gallery in Hebden Bridge is chair of the Hebden Bridge Business Committee, is adamant that everyone contributing to improving the town freely and willingly and therefore encouraging a greater trade, is the only way small independents – and therefore high streets – rejuvenate after COVID.
“We’ve got to work together to survive. By that I mean not just the business community but also the community in general,” she explains. “In the past, businesses were happy in their own bubble but now our survival – and the survival of the town – depends on us collaborating and partnering up. And people staying loyal to local, as they have in lockdown.”
And it’s this approach – the strategic alliance approach that Kate was advocating 15 years ago, the sharing of skills and data and budget – that might just prove the most successful and sustainable way out of the COVID slump. And hopefully her attitude to giving back, and helping the little businesses survive and thrive, will spread too. As Sara so succinctly says: “Working alongside Kate to deliver great work and good deeds is really inspiring. And she proves on a daily basis that success always leaves room for kindness.”
The ubiquity of co-working spaces in the capital city is no great secret, but what about the increasing number of flexible office spaces opening across the rest of the country? We spoke to Rosie Manning, the founder of Leeds-based co-working community, The Greenhouse, which welcomes remote workers and small businesses, as well as those working across the creative industries, about why she set up her own space, the rise of nomadic workers and why locating her business in the heart of Meanwood in the north of Leeds was a no brainer.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name’s Rosie Manning and I’m from Leeds, born and bred! I’ve lived here pretty much all my life. I’m the founder of a co-working space called The Greenhouse in a northern suburb of the city, which I run alongside my main job as a brand and web designer.
I recently joined the team at a Canadian agency called MetaLab . They’re based in Vancouver and have lots of tech and media clients like Uber, Slack, VICE and Google. So it’s a good balance – I work for them remotely from Leeds, which means I get to do what I love with a really amazing agency whilst also managing the day-to-day running of a coworking space.
What were you doing before you founded The Greenhouse?
After graduating from the University of Leeds with a degree in Graphic and Communication Design and a placement at Saatchi & Saatchi under my belt, I worked in-house for an educational company in Halifax based out of a beautiful old mill, which involved commuting daily from Leeds. Once I grew tired of being on the M62 every day, I decided to spread my wings and move down to London for a bit. I worked at a health and abuse charity in Kings Cross, managing their brand and helping get their digital presence up to scratch.
It turned out that London wasn’t a good fit. Not only was the cost of living through the roof, I just never felt 100% comfortable there and I really missed my family. I stuck it out for a year before the siren call of home lured me back to Yorkshire. Once I’d returned to Leeds, I worked at a couple of different agencies for a bit, but I felt I was ready to carve my own path. That led to me doing web design on a freelance basis for the next seven or eight years. I worked with startups, social enterprises, music venues and a variety of other businesses, developing their online identities and designing their websites and apps.
How did The Greenhouse come to be?
My years as a freelancer taught me just how isolating the lifestyle can be. Over the years I worked from various places – at home, in coffee shops and even at a few different co-working spaces, but none were a good long term solution. So I decided to set up a space myself – one that felt as far as possible from a traditional corporate office. I wanted it to be somewhere people would feel instantly comfortable from the moment they stepped through the front door. I also wanted to create somewhere that could double up as an events space and act like a sort of community hub.
What are your thoughts on the growth of co-working over the last few years and how does The Greenhouse fit into that?
There’s certainly been a huge surge in co-working over the last few years, and – at least for now – the trend seems to be continuing. When it comes to the giants of the co-working world, they’re still figuring out the best way to dominate the market. WeWork is probably the most famous example – it got too much money too quickly and went from one of the highest valued start-ups of all time to having to be rescued by its biggest investor . But there are plenty of other examples of really successful co-working companies with more sustainable business models.
So I think we’ll see more and more co-working businesses popping up in towns and cities. It’s not just individual freelancers and remote workers looking for a flexible working environment – a lot of small businesses are keen to set up base somewhere they don’t have to worry too much about overheads. They’re kind of like an evolution of those early skills incubators.
I don’t really see those slick city centre co-working spaces as direct competition though. For smaller independent setups like The Greenhouse, the main drive is generally something other than profit and growth. I have completely different motives – I don’t aspire to open a dozen locations or get listed on the stock exchange; I just want to be able to keep the lights on and make sure all our residents are comfortable and happy.
I belong to a generation of people who graduated into a world in the aftermath of a global financial crisis, followed by years of successive Conservative governments forcing local councils to make huge cuts. Leeds has weathered all this relatively well, but the ripples are still being felt. It’s why the independent business revolution continues to sweep across the post-industrial northern cities – people my age and younger are taking neglected spaces and turning them into places where locals can come together.
Gentrification isn’t just about modernising an area and attracting affluent people – it’s about making the best of the hand you’ve been dealt. It’s why I think we’ll continue to see a rise in multi-functional venues – to survive, you have to be creative with the space you’ve got. And in an increasingly online world, it feels like people are really starting to crave those physical locations where they can hang out together. So I reckon we’ll see more and more nooks and crannies being transformed into beautiful, useful spaces.
Did you have any support getting your venture off the ground?
Yes – I couldn’t have done it without help! When I first took over the space it was an empty shell of an industrial unit with grey concrete walls – a completely blank canvas. But I had loads of incredible support from my friend Becci and her partner Rik, and we were able to slowly transform the space into what it is today.
I called in lots of favours from my amazing friends, and we spent weekend after weekend painting walls, hanging lights, plumbing the toilet, buying furniture, finding plants, erecting trellises, making signage and building tables. We also had loads of invaluable support from our local joiner, Chris Blakeham , who did an amazing job.
I also spent quite a bit of time getting a brand in place. Luckily, I had the help of the extremely talented Eve Warren (currently a brand designer at Robot Food) to create our logo, our colour palette and the rest of our visual identity. Last but not least, my boyfriend supports me with the marketing side of things – he helped get our brand values and tone of voice sorted, which is a massively useful thing to have in place when writing web content and social media posts.
What differentiates The Greenhouse from other co-working spaces?
I always like to describe it as a bright and friendly space filled with leafy plants, relaxing tunes and beautiful décor. We offer a vibrant, welcoming backdrop for focused work, tea-drinking and community events. Apparently the space is “quirky”, or so people tell me! I didn’t used to like that word, but I’ve come to realise its one people reach for when they’re trying to describe how different and unique it is.
It’s the opposite of corporate. I knew from day one I wanted the atmosphere to always be friendly and chilled. I also wanted to keep rules to a minimum, and just have an environment where you feel looked after; a place where everyone cares. We wanted the kinds of events we run to reflect this too. We’ve had a great mix so far , including watercolour classes, yoga, paper flower making, first aid training and Makaton sign-language workshops. One of our residents – Hannah Spruce – also runs a regular non-fiction reading group called Bookish.
Moving forwards, I really want The Greenhouse to live up to its name. Aside from filling the space with plants and supporting nearby local businesses, we use energy efficient light bulbs throughout the space, replenish our soap containers at The Refilling Station in nearby Chapel Allerton and recycle all our plastic, glass and paper. All the paint on the walls was sourced from the amazing Seagulls , a fantastic organisation that specialises in reprocessing and distributing unwanted household paint.
But we want to inspire more green behaviours – bike parking facilities, for example, would encourage our residents to leave their cars at home. We also have plans to install walls of moss on the front of the building to help absorb air pollution from passing traffic. Everyone understands the battle we’re facing when it comes to climate change – as a public workspace, I think we need to lead by example and be as sustainable as possible.
Why did you decide to base it in Leeds?
I guess the main reason is that I live here! But there was always a specific draw to Meanwood itself. It’s one of my favourite parts of Leeds. In estate agent speak, it’s “up and coming.” And the so-called Waitrose effect has certainly helped it thrive, with independent cafes, shops and bars opening all the time.
We’re right in the middle of the action. We’re nestled behind Terminus, home to the Meanwood Brewery . You’ll find us up the alley between two other local gems – The Hungry Bear restaurant and Alfred bar. There are so many great places nearby. Tandem does amazing coffees and brunches, Culto is a really cosy Italian restaurant and HanaMatsuri has some of the best sushi in the country – genuinely!
It’s not just about the bars and cafes though. There’s an amazing urban farm just down the road with alpacas, goats and sheep! And the beautiful Meanwood park is just a few minutes away, perfect for afternoon dog walks.
And then of course the city has such wonderful digital and arts scenes. I knew there were always going to be plenty of people with circumstances similar to mine who would be looking for somewhere to work. I guess in the end I didn’t really go looking for The Greenhouse. It just sort of found me. And after so many years of moving around, it’s the most settled I’ve felt in ages.
What people do you seek to attract with your offering?
We welcome anyone! At the moment, we have a lot of designers, photographers, illustrators, and copywriters. We also have a phd student and a couple of people working for charities. So any creative freelancer would find it a good fit. But really, it’s open to anyone that’s nice and friendly who needs somewhere quiet and relaxing to work.
People can hot desk daily or buy a monthly pass – some people really like the flexibility of just turning up when they like and grabbing somewhere to sit. We also offer desk rental on a full time or part time basis. We have all the usual stuff you’d expect – a kitchen, storage lockers, printing and wifi access. All bills are included, so you don’t have to worry about any additional costs.
We also have a private studio, but that’s currently occupied by my friend Becci – she runs her tattoo business from there, called The Aviary . It’s really popular – she’s such a talented artist! We’re dog-friendly too – which means I get to bring my beautiful golden retriever Sol with me every day! If people are interested in learning more about what we offer, they can book a tour on our website .
What challenges have you faced in setting up your own business?
The biggest challenge was probably doing the place up from scratch. It took months. We were paying rent before we’d opened the doors to the public, so it really felt like we were working against the clock. The Greenhouse is a complete labour of love – it’s been entirely self-funded from the very beginning. I’m really pleased we managed to get it into a position where we were able to open, but we didn’t quite finish everything.
We’ve recently launched a Crowdfunder so we can get everything sorted and take the space to the next level. We’ve called in yet more favours to put together some really nice rewards, including illustrated postcards, bespoke prints, jewellery – even a tattoo! If people want to see all the exciting stuff we have planned for the future, they can take a look at our Crowdfunder page .
Do you have any advice for people looking to do something similar?
Yes. Trust your instincts. It was all completely new to me, so I had to feel my way through the dark. You come to realise who genuinely cares about helping you – and I don’t mean in a transactional, “you scratch my back” kind of way. I mean people who want to support you because they care about you and want you to succeed. You can’t just wing it though – you need to have some kind of plan in place.
You also have to understand it will take up a lot of your personal time, so make sure you have a strong support network around you. I think you have to be the kind of person who really wants to invest themselves in creating something new. If you are, you’ll get to reap the rewards when it finally comes to life.
And I’ve said this before, but it’s always worth repeating – never underestimate the importance of a strong brand. You need to have something consistent and concrete you can fall back on, especially if you don’t have huge advertising budgets. When you’re relying predominantly on social media and word-of-mouth it’s vital you have something to hinge your communications on.
What does a typical weekend entail?
I love taking my dog out for long walks. I’m a big fan of yoga, spinning and muay thai – all really good for mental health as well as physical. I also enjoy reading, baking and playing on my Nintendo Switch. I try and spend as much of my free time as I can with friends and family, making sure it involves a pub lunch whenever possible.
What do you love about the North of England?
The amazing countryside! The scenery is just so much better than down south – that’s just a fact. I love how close Leeds is to the Yorkshire Dales; within minutes you can be out in the open air, walking through rolling hills. And because Leeds always has a lot happening, you rarely feel you’re missing out on anything being based here. As a city, it’s very supportive of artists, illustrators and jewellery makers – it’s not hard to stumble across a decent print or craft fair, and you’ll find bars and pubs are always featuring work from local creators.
It’s generally less expensive to live up north, especially when compared to London, where people end up spending most of their wages on rent. I think more students from further afield are starting to stick around after they graduate and make the north their new home, which is a huge benefit. It’s not difficult to see why there’s been such a huge surge in tech agencies, media companies and the design scene in general.
At the end of the day, the north is home. I’m a northern lass at heart, although for some reason people don’t think I have a particularly strong Leeds accent! There’s just something comforting about being in Leeds, and I think, on the whole, people are generally really friendly. Having said that, my boyfriend is originally from Sheffield, and he says people are much friendlier there. We’re always arguing about which city is best!
Do you have any recommendations of cool places to see, eat and drink, or visit in Leeds?
Leeds has a fantastic calendar of events. There’s always something happening – whether it’s Light Night , Leeds International Film Festival or Leeds Indie Food . It’s packed with amazing restaurants; you can always find something delicious to eat. It’s also a city that’s passionate about good beer – the annual festival at the town hall is always a lot of fun, and there are loads of amazing local brewers based here, such as Anthology , who open up their Armley-based brewery to the public every month or so.
It’s also a great city for gigs, plays and films. The Leeds Playhouse just recently had a massive refurbishment. And we’re so lucky to have the Hyde Park Picture House – it’s over 100 years old and a really special place. As you can probably guess, I’m a big fan of green spaces, and you can’t get much nicer than Roundhay Park – it’s one of my absolute favourite parts of the city. Whatever you’re into, there’s always something to see and do!
To find out more about Rosie and The Greenhouse Co-working space, head to their website or have a nosy over on Instagram.
Thought Bubble is the largest comic art festival in the UK, taking place across Yorkshire and based for the first time this year in Harrogate convention centre from 4th – 10th November 2019.
This year Thought Bubble will host artists whose work is known and loved all over the world, with guests and exhibitors attending representing Marvel, DC, Black Horse, Image, The Walking Dead, Rick & Morty, Star Wars, Nickelodeon, Netflix, The Guardian, New York Times, and countless more.
Leeds-born and based Lisa Wood founded Thought Bubble to bring artists together, with the festival now moving into its 13th year, celebrating all of Yorkshire with their move to the new North Yorkshire based site. As well as founding Thought Bubble, Lisa is an internationally acclaimed comic book artist, currently working on Scarlet Witch for Marvel and All Star Batman for DC. She also recently received the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award from San Diego Comic Con for her community work with Thought Bubble – all achieved from her rural Yorkshire home.
Here Lisa tells us of her start in the industry, her motivation for a far-reaching festival, and the future of Thought Bubble.
How did you get your start in the comic art industry?
I’ve always loved art. As a child I used to go to Batley market with my Dad to pick up my weekly comics which I loved getting! That’s definitely where my love of comics came from.
After that I went to Bradford university and studied Art & Design there. I dabbled in some freelance illustration after that, but because it’s so difficult to start a career in freelance illustration, and art generally, I was working other jobs around that time.
I trained as a 35mm projectionist at an art house cinema, alongside that I was working part time in several comic shops. One of those comic shops was Travelling Man, it was there that I decided I wanted to set up Thought Bubble – that was back in 2007.
The festival is in its 13th year now and it’s just huge! It’s amazing to see it grow and grow each year. Alongside all of that, I started drawing comic books about eight years ago which has become my main profession.
What was the first comic art project you worked on and what has shaped your style since?
I kind of did a few different ones all at the same time… the first one I ever did was during Thought Bubble: through the festival we set up an anthology and collected stories from our guests, selling the anthologies and donating the profits to the children’s charity, Barnardo’s. I did a short comic book in that with film director Stuart Gordon who is probably most well-known for the film, The Animator. That was published by Image Comics and the first comics work I did.
Very quickly after that I did the cover for Elephant Men as well as about five pages of interiors for Elephant Men #54. That was around the time I set up social media pages and started sharing my work on Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter etc. I was posting illustrations up on there and ended up getting work from people like DC from that. That was my first big bit of comics work, working on DC’s Vertigo.
Getting started in Leeds, did you ever find that you had difficulty reaching out to the comic art community?
Not really, while I was working at Travelling Man I was surrounded by a lot of people in the comics industry, a lot of writers and artists. I think we’re quite lucky in the North of England to have a lot of people working for the big American publishers, that’s made it quite easy to speak to people, to find friends, and get them involved.
I think the only drawback we’ve had regionally has been getting publicity for the shows. We’ve found a lot of the press is very London-centric and so they don’t tend to cover things in the North so much. In terms of getting the actual comics industry involved though, that’s been no problem, from the beginning we’ve had so much support!
What was your main motivation for the creation of Thought Bubble and how has that motivation been realised over the years?
When I set up Thought Bubble 13 years ago, the main thing I wanted to do was to use the medium of comic books as a learning tool, to help young people and adults with literacy issues. I wanted to put on free workshops and create a stronger support network for them.
I struggled with dyslexia growing up and left school unable to read or write properly. My experience of education was quite bad in that regard. The way I really learnt to read and write was through comic books and it showed me what a powerful medium it is and the impact it can have on young people with these problems.
I love to read now but I don’t feel like I’d be able to do that if I didn’t have those comics at the beginning. I really feel comics are a medium in their own right, an incredible medium for adults or anyone to read now. That’s why I set up Thought Bubble, it was that community aspect. That’s also something we’ve been able to grow with support from The Arts Council, The Charlie Adlard Foundation and comiXology.
How will the move from Leeds to Harrogate make the convention more accessible for a wider Yorkshire audience?
It opens up opportunities to more people in rural areas around North Yorkshire, it’s much easier to get to for those people while remaining very easy to get to for people in say Leeds (where we’re still based).
The projects you have developed through Thought Bubble have been far-reaching and so inclusive of diverse groups and backgrounds. How would you like to continue supporting people through the festival?
We just want to continue doing what we’ve always done! We’ve put together some more ambitious funding applications to various organisations to help further our outreach work and constantly getting in touch with new organisations and working alongside existing partners. Those existing partners include some really valuable organisations like Leeds Autism services, asylum seekers & refugees organisation and Leeds LGBT organisations.
We work very hard each year to bring as diverse a group of guests as we can, that’s something we’re going to be working very hard on in the next few years.
Which comic character would you say you share the most traits with?
Uhhhhh! That’s a really hard question… Not a comic book character, but one I feel could be adapted very easily is Napoleon Dynamite. I feel more similar to him than any other fictional character I know…
For more information, including a full line-up and to buy tickets, see the Thought Bubble website.
La bohème is one of the most popular operas of all time, and it’s back at Leeds Grand Theatre this month. Opera North’s take on Puccini’s heart-wrenching opera was originally conceived by Phyllida Lloyd – who went on to direct Mamma Mia! and the Oscar-winning The Iron Lady. She transports the action to the smoky cafés and garrets of 1950s Paris where we witness the tragic love affair between two impoverished bohemians, seamstress Mimì and poet Rodolfo, who meet one freezing Christmas Eve.
NRTH LASS caught up with Lauren Fagan and Eleazar Rodriguez who play the ill-fated lovers on opening night (there are two casts alternating over the course of the run). They are also performing at the company’s first dementia-friendly performance on 24 October. Henry Neill, who sings the part of Rodolfo’s friend Schaunard, and revival director Michael Barker-Caven joined the conversation.
NL: Tell us more about La bohème. What's it about?
L: It’s a story of beauty, love and, ultimately, tragedy. Life and death basically!
M: As you watch it, it’s like going from a big evening, feeling that life is nothing but a party, to discovering that the morning after can actually be a place of terrifying shadow. You didn’t know that, of course, when you were dancing the night away and believing life was just joyful and fun.
H: I think people will find it really familiar. We’ve all been there, especially students. We have the mate who’s the joker, we have the mate who’s the intelligent guy, so immediately that’s something that’s basically straight from young people’s lives, and then the story is born out of that.
M: Everything feels like you’ve been there, seen it, done it. That’s what’s remarkable about it. Anybody who’s never been to the opera, this is the place to start because you will come and learn that great opera is about you.
NL: What's this particular production like?
M: I’m reviving a piece that was first done in the early ’90s. It’s stood the test of time, so the pleasure for me as a director is not messing it up basically! It’s set in a world that people will recognise: the young people have motorbikes, they’re drinking out of bottles, they’ve got leather jackets on, things like that. There’s also a modern art element – a visual homage to the Jackson Pollocks of this world, the Hockneys, all those artistic icons. You get this commercial pop art world beginning to come through juxtaposed with the harshness of real life.
What’s really exciting about this production though, is that it’s young people who sing this extraordinary, vibrant piece of work. Every bit of it is gripping to watch and that’s all credit to these wonderful casts. They’re bringing their lived experience into it and making everything come alive.
E: I think for us the challenge is that we know what’s going to happen in the opera, but we have to keep it really fresh in every phrase we do. Everything we sing, everything we act, it has to be like it’s the first time it’s ever happened.
NL: Why are you doing a dementia friendly performance and how will it be different?
H: Research consistently shows that music can be an incredibly powerful force for people with dementia, so we hope this will make a real impact on them and their families. We’re looking forward to it as singers, because the lights will be on we’ll be able to see a bit more and the auditorium should have a very different feel.
E: For me, it’s wonderful to make opera accessible to
anyone. Inclusivity is one of my favourite words!
NL: What kind of
music can people expect?
M: If people are going “I wouldn’t like opera – it’s all that weird screeching”, then they should experience this. It’s full of melody, it’s full of the most beautiful tunes, it’s full of this extraordinary playfulness. It’s so fresh. In fact, the paradox is that it feels like it’s been written by a young person, and yet it’s written by a mature genius. The skill and the originality are simply breath-taking.
La bohème opens at Leeds Grand Theatre on Saturday 12 October and runs until Saturday 26 October before touring to Newcastle Theatre Royal, Nottingham Theatre Royal and The Lowry at Salford Quays. £10 tickets are available at every performance for under 30s.
NRTH LSS had the pleasure to get to know the very talented producer and musician Angela Chan.
Coming to Leeds to study a degree in classical and contemporary music, and a master’s in music production, Angela tells us why she stayed up north as she built her eclectic musical career around her distinctive “fuzzy” sound. Angela also shares some foodie recommendations for the noodle lovers amongst us.
Angela has an impressive discography, including her work as a touring band member of alternative rock group Placebo since 2017, her creative involvement with indie rock band Lanterns on the Lake since 2014 and, more recently, her time on tour with Kyle Falconer of The View.
NRTH LASS: Tell us about a typical day on tour. What are the highs and lows of tour life?
Angela: There’s not much routine to touring. There’s a lot of travelling and packing and unpacking things – vans, boxes, bags, cases. I love the camaraderie of it all especially on the smaller tours where everyone is mucking in. There’s always plenty of chat, jokes and silly games to pass the time. Apparently I sleep a lot too.
NRTH LASS: Would you say that you have a signature “sound” you find yourself returning to?
Angela: My viola and reverb! Other than that, I don’t think I have much of a signature sound … but I do love playing around with other instruments, pedals and getting geeky with tech. I try to mould my sound to fit each band I play with – orchestral strings, dirty fuzzy noise, ethereal soundscapes, synthy pads. I rarely use the same pedalboard setup between bands. I can get really weird with the sound and people often think they’re hearing a guitar. It’s not. It’s a viola!
NRTH LASS: What’s it like being a woman in the music industry? Have you met any gender-based barriers in your career?
Angela: I’ve never felt like I’ve encountered any gender-based barriers, but it’s something that is being talked about a lot at the moment. I went to a “Women in Music” conference recently to try and learn more and after hearing about others’ experiences, I started to think about my own. There are sexist attitudes but it’s very rare that I come across them. On the whole, I find the creative world quite progressive and open. There are many sides to the industry that I’ve not experienced though, so I can’t speak for all women.
NRTH LASS: Tell us about your work as a producer. How does it compare to performing live?
Angela: Performing live is about being in the moment, playing my instrument. In the studio, it’s about crafting and creating. It’s more cerebral, not as automatic, and I’ve got a lot to learn. I like making music for performance art (dance, theatre) and moving image (sound design, film, digital art). I love the relationship between sound and movement. It’s easy to get lost for hours once I get stuck in.
NRTH LASS: What was it that kept you based in Leeds for all these years? Were you ever tempted/encouraged to relocate?
Angela: Leeds ticks a lot of boxes. I came here to study and met lots of people doing exciting things. There’s a lot going on. It’s not an expensive place to live. I found a supportive community and I’ve been well nurtured by it. I lived in Newcastle for a bit and I’d like to go back there in the future. London doesn’t appeal much to me as a place to live. I’m a northern lass.
NRTH LASS: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Angela: Spending an evening trawling through Gumtree ads and finding the people who became my mentors, best friends and first proper band. I’d recently learned what a pickup was, acquired the cheapest one I could find on eBay, blue-tacked it to my viola and turned up to meet these strangers. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t get laughed out of the room. I learned almost everything about playing in a band from them. They even equipped me with my first ever pedal. Before them, I never knew what a pedal was. Imagine that.
“Performing live is about being in the moment, playing my instrument. In the studio, it’s about crafting and creating.”
NRTH LASS: How do you balance your personal life with your career? Do you ever feel that you’ve had to sacrifice one for the other?
Angela: If music wasn’t my job it would still be a huge part of my life. Music is very personal to me and through music I’ve made close friends, learned valuable life lessons, travelled the world, experienced adventures and misadventures. It’s not a conventional life, but convention doesn’t excite me. I’ve been told that to sacrifice is to give up something for a greater something else, and if that is the case, it’s not the worst position to be in.
NRTH LASS: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Or any piece of advice you wish you’d received?
Angela: I’ve had a lot of good advice and yet I can’t recall a single piece right now. All I can say is: surround yourself with good people. They will provide you with all the advice you will need.
NRTH LASS: Finally, and most importantly … where can I get the best noodles and dumplings in Leeds?
Angela: Haha! So you’ve spotted I’m a noodle enthusiast. Well, I’m a big fan of Bánh and Mee for Vietnamese, Noodle House for Hong Kong and Malaysian, and Noodlesta is a recent opening for Northern Chinese hand-pulled noodles. Couple of OK dim sum spots too but I’ve not found a place for proper good dumplings yet. Let me know if you find one.
Featured in Issue Two of NRTH LASS, Formes is a modern and artistic brand with a focus on the wearable everyday white tee. The brand’s Leeds-based Founder, Designer and Maker, Clemency Jones doesn’t believe in fast fashion; instead, she concludes that clothes should take time to make and be timeless to wear. From an environmentally progressive supplier and solvent free ink to zero waste, Formes is in-house, local and kind to our planet. It’s also extremely kind to our bodies – the iconic tees are comfortable to boot.
Sharing those initial steps in the pursuit of an ethical brand, from the conception and design, to the development she hopes to journey on for her brand, Clemency Jones proves why she’s one to watch, and one to get behind.
NRTH LASS: Why did you decide to set up your own business?
Clemency: It actually started from the products – I was drawing on t-shirts for myself before I thought of it as a business. I only started selling them because there was an art fair coming up that my friends run in Leeds – A Print Fair Called Skint Fair. They’d put me down to have a stall, so I needed something to sell! I made a batch of 12 t-shirts, all hand-drawn with fabric markers, and they sold pretty well. This gave me the confidence to try and pursue it a bit more properly; I decided to create a whole brand around the t-shirts, started screen-printing, and it grew from there. In a more personal respect, this all started while I was off work due to stress and family issues. Having a creative outlet was vital for me; a project that was totally mine and that I could work on steadily was immensely beneficial to my mental health during a really difficult period.
NRTH LASS: What was your background before Formes?
Clemency: At university I studied History of Art with Museum Studies, but had also worked as a stylist and in the wardrobe department for TV and commercials, I really loved both but couldn’t see myself pursuing either long term. Post-Uni I had the common ‘what now?!’ crisis, and I worked in retail for a bit. I think this mix of experiences was quite educational; even though at the time I felt a bit lost and unable to stick to one thing, in hindsight I’ve been able to see how both large businesses are run and how independent creatives make a name for themselves.
NRTH LASS: Why have you chosen to focus on plain white t-shirts?
Clemency: White t-shirts can be worn by anyone – I think they’re the antithesis of elitist clothing. They are practical and easy to wear, for many different people in many different contexts. For me, there seemed to be no point in creating something that was aesthetically pleasing but that people wouldn’t wear again and again. It’s also about using a known favourite to create something different, infusing an artistic element into an everyday item. I was fed up with high-street fashion, but can’t deny its widespread appeal and popularity. I wanted to harness the adaptability of high-street fashion, the fact that items are easy to wear and designed for the everyday, but also create something with a bit more personality and individuality. But unlike most high-street items I intended to make something sustainable, ethical and long-lasting.
It also boils down to practicality for me as the maker; plain white t-shirts are a great canvas to work on, perfect for screen-printing, and it’s now easy enough to source good quality organic cotton t-shirts that are ethically produced.
The combination of an artistic
sensibility and a commitment to functionality is at the heart of Formes; I consider
my products to be creative workwear.
NRTH LASS: Where do you draw inspiration from when creating your designs?
Clemency: My love of modern art feeds into Formes a lot. Originally my designs were inspired solely by the works of Matisse – I think his ability to create astoundingly evocative images with such simplicity is incredible. Now my designs are inspired by modern artists of the 20th century more broadly, in both concept and formal result. For example, I looked at the sculptural forms of Barbara Hepworth and her use of negative space, which resulted in my Empty Spaces t-shirt, while the inspiration for my Brushstrokes tee was the creative process itself, and the irony of replicating the unique marks of a brush through the repetitive medium of screen-printing.
I am constantly referring back to
art history books for inspiration, but tend to sit down with nothing in front
of me and try to fill pages of a sketch book with rough drawings. Influences
come through organically, and often it is only once I have picked out my
favourite rough designs and refined them that I realise what has particularly
NRTH LASS: Who is your favourite designer and how have they inspired you?
Clemency: I don’t think I have one favourite designer, my wardrobe has always been mostly made up of second-hand items – I think it’s the God of Jumble Sales that I look up to most! Second-hand clothing has definitely influenced my brand as I’m used to adapting pieces and fitting them into my everyday – which is essentially what Formes does with the plain white t-shirt.
NRTH LASS: How would you like Formes to progress in the future?
Clemency: I want it to grow organically; Formes is very much a slow-fashion brand and I really take it at my own pace. Sustainability and ethics are at the heart of Formes and any progression needs to be based around that. I’ve recently branched out from t-shirts to produce some multi-purpose pouches with our signature Eyes motif screen-printed on, and with these I’ve also experimented a bit with colour, using techniques like a split fountain and some neon inks. I mainly chose to do this because I found some gorgeous natural organic cotton pouches from a great supplier, and there were some interesting pots of neon ink leftover in the studio. Using stuff that would otherwise be thrown away and combining it with high-quality, sustainable goods really appeals to me.
I’m thinking of doing some long-sleeved t-shirts next, and maybe some other colours. I’m also hoping to have a couple of new stockists in the UK and abroad soon, which would be really exciting.
NRTH LASS: Why have you chosen to stay local to develop your business?
Clemency: Keeping everything local has been an incidental consequence of doing almost everything myself and needing to keep costs down. I became a member of Leeds Print Workshop when I wanted to get back into screen-printing, and the support I found there was brilliant. I now print all of my products at my mate Joe’s studio in Hope House. He runs No Brand, an independent screen-printing service from his studio, as well as a brilliant t-shirt shop in the Corn Exchange. He’s taught me so much.
Leeds has an amazing sense of
community, and it has been integral to the starting of my business – I owe a
lot to the city and all the creatives in it!
NRTH LASS: What’s the best advice you’ve received during the setting up and running of your business?
Clemency: It’s not so much advice, but I have frequent reminders from the people closest to me that this is my own project and I can take it at whatever pace I want. I’m working to my own deadlines and there is absolutely no reason to get stressed about things. As soon as I start to feel stressed I take a step back and remind myself why I started Formes and what it means to me. I’m the boss and if things take a little longer than planned, that’s ok.
NRTH LASS: What would your advice be for anyone looking to set up a similar venture?
Clemency: To just start creating and test out ideas on your friends and family, listen to their feedback and start small – at first I had ideas of doing a crazy amount of designs and products, but honing my ideas down to one collection of four designs really helped me to forge my brand’s identity. Similarly, right at the beginning I filled a page with words associated with the brand I wanted to create, before doing anything else. This made me feel really confident in knowing what Formes is and what it stands for.
Also, lead with your strengths and work on everything else in due course; I love designing and making, and that’s what fills me with joy and excitement. The business side of things has always been a bit daunting, and if I’d focused on that I would have stopped before I’d even started. I made sure I was proud of my products first, and now the rest of it doesn’t feel like such hard work. I’m currently taking an online business course so that I can do myself and my products justice.
On Friday 24th May, Leeds will once again host the Indie Banquet: a spectacular mash-up of street food and live music founded by Leeds-based live music promotor, Pizza for the People. The aim of Pizza for the People is to provide a platform for upcoming and newly established talent. Now on their 13th Indie Banquet, held at Wharf Chambers in Leeds, this well-established event has showcased a large number of local bands and has been a useful stepping stone for putting these bands on the musical map. These events offer a unique opportunity to enjoy the chilled atmosphere of a festival, without the need for wellies and a tent.
Some of the bands up on the roster this year include: Trudy and the Romance, Ugly, L.A Peach and Celestial Green. VFC and OWT will also be on site to provide some tempting treats to suit all tastes, along with a number of other local vendors. These events are an incredible opportunity for the local community to come together and support homegrown talent.
After the first Indie Banquet in 2016, the events have only gotten bigger and better, with large numbers of bands now wanting to get involved. Julia King is one half of the brains behind Pizza for the People. With over two and a half years’ worth of experience in co-ordinating gigs alongside promoting street food vendors, Julia was able to share some of her knowledge and insight on event organising with us.
How did the idea for
Pizza for the People come about?
The concept of Pizza for the People arose from a mutual love of live music, festivals and food between me and my partner Ryan (the other half of Pizza for the People) and a lightbulb moment in early 2016 when we realised that there wasn’t an existing forum in Leeds and surrounding areas where you can watch live music whilst stuffing your face, like you tend to do at a festival. Our name (Pizza for the People) naturally formed from our love for pizza (!) but equally an appetite for blending our two passions: music and food and giving audiences, bands, independent venues and street food traders an opportunity to come together.
How has your role
changed since the conception of the event?
Prior to forming Pizza for the People, my partner and I had attended countless gigs and festivals but had never managed an event before, so we knew it’d be a learning curve. We researched the market, listened and learned from fellow promotors and immersed ourselves in learning about the music and gigging industry, ahead of putting our first Indie Banquet gig on in October 2016. I’d say our roles have not necessarily changed but have evolved over the past two and half years as we’ve become more experienced and confident of what works and what doesn’t. Equally, we’ve become clearer over time as to what skills we bring to planning, designing, curating and delivering our Indie Banquet shows.
How much has the
event grown over the years?
Now on our 13th Indie Banquet, the event has developed a really core audience over time and one that we really appreciate. We’ve worked with a large number of bands, some of which have come back to play for us again. In terms of growth, we’ve worked with a number of different independent venues such as Wharf Chambers, Hyde Park Book Club, Duke Studios and Brudenell Social Club and equally with a number of incredible street food traders such as Pizza Fella, Goldenballs, Dilla Deli, Little Bao Boy, VFC and cannot wait to welcome OWT to our Indie Banquet on Friday 24th May, serving up a seasonal mystery menu.
How important are
events like these for getting Northern talent noticed?
I think events like these are incredibly important for getting Northern talent noticed and on the map. The music industry is an incredibly challenging one these days to make a living from, despite it being more accessible, so we think it’s important to not only showcase the really raw and incredible talent across the North but also make sure that bands are paid, treated well and given the praise they deserve at our gigs. Ethics and integrity are absolutely key to Pizza for the People. We’ve seen some really successful stories since our inception, having watched folks like The Orielles (who played our 2nd Indie Banquet) and Drahla (who played our 1st Indie Banquet birthday) blossom. It’s such a lovely feeling to watch all of their journeys.
What is your
favourite part of organising these events?
That’s a really good but tricky question! For me, I think it’s two-fold. (A) Designing the line-up and finding new and super exciting artists to work with and (B) The gig itself. Watching everything come together on the night is a wonderful feeling.
Who can attend PFTP?
Indie Banquets are open to all (over the age of 18). Those who are avid gig-goers, those who love discovering new street food traders, those who like music but are open to discovering new music and new bands. Everyone’s a winner!
What can new
attendees expect on the night?
New attendees can expect a tasty, tailored menu of scrummy
food washed down with a cocktail of superb bands in a quirky, intimate venue.
How can bands and
food traders get involved?
Bands and street food traders can contact us via email@example.com or via social media (#weallwantpizza) if they’re interested in playing or serving up delights at future Indie Banquets.
We’re sure there are many of you out there who dream of starting your own business, whether you aspire to be your own boss, or be a trailblazer in your field, we know that making the jump can sometimes be the hardest part about realising our dreams. With this in mind, we wanted to introduce you to the women behind Buttercrumble. Not only are they one another’s cheerleader, but they are also big supporters of female collaboration and empowerment, who want to inspire strong women so that they too can run their own teams and partnerships.
This week marks the beginning of a new blog series by Fi Mason, one half of Northern Fettle – a small business support service that offers a holistic and modern approach to helping independent businesses. Fi will be exploring some of the inspirational minds behind the best independent businesses, sharing her own experiences, while also urging us to remember that running your own business requires not only grit, but support from those around you. In her first post, Fi asks the question, is being an independent business just a little too independent?