Getting to know Kelly Bishop: Editor & Musician

This week, we speak to Kelly Bishop, Musician and Editor at Confidentials about growing up in the North, the women who have inspired her and her favourite places to eat in Manchester. 

Could I start by asking you a little bit about yourself, where are you from and what do you do?

I was born in Lancashire but have lived in Manchester now for nearly 24 years. I’ve tried to leave many times, but it lures me back like a siren every time. It’s truly an addictive city. I’m Executive Editor at Confidentials which is a fun, irreverent, hyper-local lifestyle website covering mainly food and drink but also news, property, events, arts and anything else relevant and interesting in the local area. We have individual sites for Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds. We are also just about to launch Confidential Guides which is a curated and super helpful restaurant directory that will eventually cover the whole of the North West. 

I’m also an indie musician and have played in bands for about 25 years. I sing, write songs and play bass and guitar and rudimentary piano. My current band is a fuzzy, 90s alt influences power trio called The Empty Page. You can find us on Spotify.

What are your memories of growing up in the North?

Sitting in the back of my parent’s car driving down to Blackpool in the rain to see the illuminations – all the more dazzling through a drizzle-flecked windscreen at night. Walking, ruddy cheeked in the rolling, cut grass and manure scented Lancashire countryside with my dad and the dog. 

My first visit to Manchester with my mum and being absolutely mind blown by Affleck’s Palace and The Corn Exchange, resulting in a lifelong love of incense, rosewood oil and tie dye.

Hanging out with punks on the monument that used to be on Market Street. Record shopping for hours on end at X Records, Bolton. Many breathless train rides after legging it to catch the train from platform 14 at Piccadilly. Playing some of my sweaty palmed first gigs at The Roadhouse and The Met in Bury and spending half my life in a musty scented rehearsal room plastered with posters of Bob Marley and cult films on an industrial estate in Radcliffe. Almost fainting as I lost my shit about seeing the firebrand Courtney Love in her torn nighty and smeared lipstick with her band Hole (and many other bands) live at Manchester Academy when it was quite a bit smaller. I could go on.

Which women have inspired you as a writer and a musician?

The aforementioned Courtney Love whose intelligence, confidence and massive talent left an indelible impression for life. Kate Bush when I was tiny, listening to my dad’s copy of Hounds of Love and yodelling along. Whitney Houston who taught me to belt my heart out via much hairbrush/mirror practise. Patti Smith whose poetry gives me shivers and whose androgynous cool empowers me. The holy trinity of the 90s: PJ Harvey, Bjork and Tori Amos for their absolute commitment to being their authentic selves. Skin from Skunk Anansie for reinventing what a rock frontperson could be and bringing ballsy political fire into the Dawson’s Creek schmaltz of the decade.

I was also a big fan of Sylvia Plath, Poppy Z Brite, Elizabeth Wurtzel and Margaret Atwood growing up. Later on, discovering Charlotte Perkins Gilman whose book The Yellow Wallpaper massively inspired me lyrically. As far as food writers go, I love Marina O Loughlin’s scathing and sarcastic Scottish tones and who doesn’t adore Nigella?

Do you see yourself as a creative individual?

Yes. I don’t like being too tunnel visioned and most of my life I have had at least two jobs at once for variety and flexibility around my music life. I like to escape as often as possible; few feelings are better than being in a van or on a train heading somewhere, anywhere. That gets the cogs turning. I often write on trains. I was a creative kid that spent a lot of time alone, reading and making up songs. For a long time, I didn’t have the opportunity to utilise my creativity at work, but I definitely do now. Looking after four websites and a large team of writers as well as writing myself as much as possible keeps me busy and allows me to push myself creatively. I try and write non-work stuff at least weekly if not daily too. I think it’s a good habit to be in. Creativity is a really transferable skill in the workplace and should not be underestimated.

How did you first get into journalism?

It wasn’t so much journalism that interested me, more creative writing. What I do now I guess is a light form of journalism but there’s not as much pressure as if I worked for a newspaper and I have a lot more freedom of expression. I had a pretty sketchy CV – because I mainly focused on my music for my 20s and early 30s – but I knew I had writing and creative skills so I started doing a bit of freelance copywriting to show my ability. I actually wormed my way into the place I work now by taking on a minimum wage Xmas internship calling up restaurants to ask about their upcoming January deals. I was in my 30s and working as an EFL teacher at the time. I didn’t enjoy the call-centre type role at all but I slowly got to know the team and kept pestering the then editor to let me do some writing. It’s funny because in my interview I remember him saying, you never know, you might be editor one day. And I laughed, thinking, I’ll be lucky if they even publish any of my writing. Well, the rest is history. 

Did you ever have a mentor or someone to help you get into this field of work?

I didn’t have a journalistic or writing mentor, but I had a few friends that were much more experienced than me in getting “proper jobs”. My friends Sam and Issy taught me how to make my CV pop and how to fill in the gaps in experience or skills by doing some courses or getting a bit of work experience. They taught me that all my transferable skills from doing band stuff for years were really valuable in the workplace. They were basically amazing cheerleaders and helped boost my confidence at a time when I wasn’t feeling too great actually. The best kind of female friends. After that I suppose it was all me pushing to prove myself to myself as much as anyone. 

As Executive Editor of Manchester Confidential, what does a typical workday look like?

Days vary quite a lot, but I usually start work before I get to the office, checking a few emails and Trello and doing some social media posts. At the office, I check in with my core writers and freelancers to see what they are working on and where they are up to, giving them whatever support they need. 

If I have time, I try and do as much writing as possible myself too because I love it. Daily tasks can include brainstorming ideas, editing and subbing writers’ work and giving constructive feedback, making calls about which of the many, many stories that come to our inbox should be covered that week and which ones should be prioritised. Keeping an eye on Google Analytics and other stats. Social media. Lots of meetings. Editing and resizing photos. Several times a week there are restaurant or bar launches to attend – sometimes on the hoof – and we try to get out and about as much as possible to see what’s happening in the city. My team and I also spend time interviewing people that are doing exciting things in the North. Another big part of the job is restaurant reviews which we all do once or twice a month. It’s a pretty varied role to say the least.

What do enjoy most about working in journalism?

I just really love writing, so wherever I get to flex my creative muscles on that front I am happy. I’m also hugely passionate about food and wine (I am Level 3 WSET qualified) so I consider myself ridiculously lucky that a large part of my job involves eating everything from burgers to Michelin tasting menus and drinking everything from coffee to cocktails. 

The hard part of being a critic is that people react really emotionally sometimes in response to reviews and all of our writers have had personal attacks on social media whenever they have published a particularly critical restaurant review which can be hard to process sometimes. But it’s really important to us to be honest when we review a restaurant. We pay our bill, don’t announce that we will be coming and have an experience like any random customer would have. Sometimes, that’s unfortunately not a good one and our readers trust us to give them the truthful lowdown. In a world of endless PR gush, I’m proud that we tell it how it is and that we have high standards of writing that make everything we write entertaining in some way too.

What are you most excited about doing in your new role as Executive Editor? 

I’ve been in this role for four months now so not much is going to change but I am excited that the pandemic is starting to seem like it could be in the rear-view mirror soon. So much of our job is social, it’s been tough not having that side of it for 18 months or so. I’m excited to be able to move around the country a bit more, get over to Leeds and Liverpool more, things like that. What also excites me is finding new, talented writers. I’m always on the lookout for more of those and I love mentoring them to be the absolute best they can be.

Who will you be working with?

A lot of people think Manchester Confidential is a load of dusty old blokes because we have been around for almost 20 years now as a publication and our published Mark Gordo Garner has, shall we say, a strong personality. 

Actually, my current team is largely female. Aside from me, there’s Vicky Andrews who is our Liverpool Editor. Vicky had freelanced for us for several years but when we decided to take on a full time Liverpool editor this year, she was my first choice. I was so pleased she accepted the role and she is absolutely smashing it. 

We also have Sophie Rahnema who was brought in to be the editor of our new Confidential Guides site. She looks after that and also contributes to Manchester Confidential as a restaurant reviewer and feature writer. Sophie is a presenter on our video reels too. She’s doing a cracking job too in such a varied role, nothing is too much trouble for her. A real can-do gal. 

Lucy Tomlinson is our News Editor and one of the smartest, sharpest women I know, she manages to balance motherhood (she has two kids under five) with eyeballing Andy Burnham, reporting on societal issues and waxing lyrical about baked goods – we’re so food focused that everyone has to write about food too. Lucy has been a restaurant reviewer for Confidentials for many years and her reviews always make me laugh, without fail. Our office in general is full of big, varied, diverse personalities. We have a lot of fun.

How do you balance your work as an editor alongside being a member of The Empty Page?

To be honest, I haven’t been able to tour since the pandemic started so it’s hard to say how difficult that balance will be now I have more responsibility at work. I’ve always managed by using my holiday allowance to go on tour or play one off shows so not much is likely to change on that front. I’ll just probably be checking emails in the van a bit more than I used to. My employer is really supportive. I’ve been in the recording studio for the past few weekends which has been a massive tonic after a year of not much music action but I do tend to burn the candle at both ends so my main focus is to stay healthy and not completely wear myself out.

Image: © Debbie Ellis/A Supreme Shot

When you’re not working, where can we find you?

At home in my city centre apartment watching John Waters films with my two cats and long-suffering partner. Watching live bands at one of the many cool music venues in Manchester or further afield. Rehearsing or playing live with my own band. Doing a bit of yoga, weights or cardio down the gym. Cooking far too much food on a Sunday afternoon. Having breakfast with my mates whenever we can synchronise diaries. And hopefully travelling the world again when it’s allowed.

In your opinion, where are some of the best places to eat and drink in Manchester?

THAT is a really difficult question because I could list 50 or so easily and because new places are opening every week. I’m a massive fan of Erst’s inventive, perfectly executed small plates, I love Indian food so cafe Marhaba for a fresh naan and old school rice and three or Mughli, Asha’s or Bundobust for something more modern, The Creameries for comfort food and great wine, Tast Enxaneta for a special occasion, Siam Smiles for face melting Thai food, Ca Phe Viet or Pho Cue for restorative broths. But this really is just scratching the surface. There is a preposterous amount of good food here. 

If you could tell your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

You never have to get a normal hairstyle or start wearing grey suits to get a good job – do things on your own terms. Stop dropping out of college, your brain is a great asset and studying is fun if you pick the right subjects. Travel, read, make music, dream and don’t worry about being ‘grown up’, it’s overrated. 

Interview: Jenna Campbell
Band images: Debbie Ellis/A Supreme Shot


The Northern women breaking into journalism

Reading was my first love, thanks in most part to my older sister who would pass on books to me. I read everywhere and anywhere, always fully immersing myself in those worlds. This passion for reading led me to writing, resulting in notebooks filled to the brim with short stories and in-depth interviews with family members. Since then, I have always said that I wanted to write and be a journalist, and have explored all the options open to me. 

Truthfully, I didn’t know what a journalist was. I didn’t see anyone on the TV who sounded like me. There was very little Northern representation and even less information about how to break into the industry. When you don’t know anyone within the media, getting in is incredibly different.

As was the case for many people last year, my plans somewhat changed. The gap year I had planned disappeared so I needed to find something else to focus on. That’s where writing came back into the picture. Lockdown meant more organisations were offering free online workshops, giving everyone across the country the opportunity to network. From that I connected with a group of incredible women, who, like me, wanted a space for women to write about anything they wanted to and not worry about stress or deadlines. So Empoword Journalism was born. 

Throughout the past year, I never felt like my Northern roots were holding me back. The question I always asked in any workshops was “do you think it’s possible to get a job in the industry without moving to London?” and I always got a resounding yes. However, I am still seeing so many journalist jobs that are based down south with no option of remote working. 

I spoke to some of the women I have met through Empoword Journalism about how they broke into the industry and what they think needs to happen to make it easier for people in the North to break into the journalism industry. 

Mads Raine is a journalist from Hartlepool, and her love of journalism began whilst working on her student newspaper. “The North is definitely represented, but it is not well-represented,” she says. “Most of the action happens in London and if you decide to stay in the North you are cutting off a lot of opportunities.”

Adding: “Neither my school nor my college had their own paper. I didn’t have these creative outlets at my fingertips that so many of my friends had. Throughout my education –  until university that is – I was lacking in creativity and I don’t think being at a state-run school in a high-poverty area is a coincidence.”

“Most of the action happens in London and if you decide to stay in the North you are cutting off a lot of opportunities.”

Mads Raine

Mads wants people to realise that the North has so much more to offer and wants to see “more jobs and more internships brought to the North of England”.

Beth Kirkbride founded The Indiependent in 2014 as a way to give journalists from across the county the opportunity to get their work published and get constructive feedback from editors. Beth, like me, has wanted to write for as long as she could remember. She believes that even though the pandemic has shown that working remotely is possible the media is still very London-centric. 

“When it comes to applying for journalism work experience or graduate schemes being from the North has been a disadvantage,” notes Beth. “These opportunities mean uprooting my life and moving to London, which has a much higher cost of living than the North of England. This is definitely an access and diversity problem in the media industry.”

“These opportunities mean uprooting my life and moving to London, which had a much higher living cost than the North of England.”

Beth Kirkbride

Beth also wants to see more paid work experience opportunities that allow Northern journalists to gain experience without having to foot their travel and accommodation costs themselves.

Lauren Mcgaun is a student with a passion for current affairs and the world around her. She echoes both Beth and Mads belief that there needs to be better work experience for people in the North. 

“I would also welcome more work experience applications that are CV based, which consider your journalistic skills and ability (similar to the current spectator scheme), so that your location and education doesn’t act as a barrier,” she says.

Shahed Ezaydi, is a freelance journalist and Deputy Editor for Aurelia Magazine. Although Shahed has always been fascinated by writing she never saw it as the career for her because she “never really saw someone like me in that world”.  

For Shahed, being from the North has given her a “unique voice in journalism”, as she explains: “Being a Northern woman means I can offer different perspectives or add more nuance and depth to a range of discussions, from race, religion, to local issues.” She continues: “You can always tell when an article or report that’s covering a Northern issue has been written by a journalist who isn’t Northern or who hasn’t lived in the North. I find it lacks the depth and substance.”

“You can always tell when an article or report that’s covering a Northern issue has been written by a journalist who isn’t Northern or who hasn’t lives in the North. I find it lacks the depth and substance.”

Shahed Ezaydi

However, she warns that she doesn’t want to get “boxed into just writing about identity or race and religion”, because “we as journalists (and people) are more than that”.

In terms of improving Northern representation, Shahed wants to see more roles moved up North, but recognises that that isn’t always possible. “Not every company can just move, so publications should also offer their roles on a remote working basis to recognise that not everyone is in a financial position that would allow them to move to London and live there long-term.”

Bethan McConnell is originally from Newcastle but relocated to London for University. “There always seems to be jobs central to London, in both music and journalism, so I figured that I would experience more opportunities and work if I lived in London,” she explains. 

Bethan is now a music journalist and photographer and runs Safe and Sound, a music and culture publication curated by creative women.  “For me, the most important thing is stepping up arts and culture funding in low-income areas, as those classes could inspire our next generation of journalists, musicians, and authors,” she says.

“There always seems to be jobs central to London, in both music and journalism, so I figured I would experience more opportunities and work if I lived in London.”

Bethan McConnell

Adding: “From my own experience the music education I received from school was the thing that motivated me to pursue this career path and without it, I’m not sure what sort of job I would be doing now.”

Evie Muir is a  domestic abuse specialist and freelance journalist. Evie began pursuing a career as a journalist because she felt there was a gap in reporting on gender-based violence. “From a survivor’s perspective, often stories telling our experiences of abuse, exploitation or assault are anonymised,” she says.

“As both a domestic abuse practitioner and survivor, it felt like “if not me, who?” I had stories to tell – my own included – I was angry, tired, passionate and, most importantly, informed.”

Evie became a freelance journalist through an unconventional route. “I studied Sociology and Gender Studies at undergrad level and International Development and Gender Based Violence at univeristy, and have worked in the Domestic Abuse Sector and Charity Sector more broadly for over seven years. So, I entered journalism as an expert in my field and used that to my advantage.”

When writing about topics that can be potentially triggering for you, Evie advises “putting coping mechanisms in place. If this means taking sick leave then do it”. 

Evie’s advice for women entering the industry is to find a support group. “I’d like to mention too that there is such a great network of Northern journos up here who I feel a deeper connection with than I do in more nation-wide networking groups – despite having not met many of them in person!”

“See the value in Northern stories and we will tell you them. Give us a platform to share the stage and we will speak with you.”

Evie Muir

She continues: “It feels like a very nurtured community with shared values of intersectionality, inclusion and the celebration of northern women voices.”

Evie wants to see an increase in remote working opportunities and she wants publications to take a closer look at the experiences of women in the North. “See the value in Northern stories and we will tell you them. Give us a platform to share the stage and we will speak with you.”

Speaking to these women is the best reminder of why I want to be a journalist. For the North to be represented we need people to start breaking down those barriers because where you are from should never negatively impact your future.

Extra Resources: 

The Northern Natter Podcast and Newsletter 

The Peak District Newsletter, filled with job opportunities up North!

The Indiependent 

Empoword Journalism

Journo Resources – a newsletter and website filled with paid job opportunities and career advice 

Words by Orla McAndrew. Orla is a writer and journalist from Leeds and the co-founder of Empoword Journalism, a woman-led project that looks to unite and empower journalists.

The Future of Work with Rosie Manning, Founder of The Greenhouse Leeds

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.

Rosie Manning, The Greenhouse, Leeds. Co working space. Portrait and lifestyle photography by Joanne Crawford

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.

The Greenhouse, Leeds. Co working space. Portrait and lifestyle photography by Joanne Crawford

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. 

The Greenhouse, Leeds. Co working space. Portrait and lifestyle photography by Joanne Crawford

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.

The Greenhouse, Leeds. Co working space. Portrait and lifestyle photography by Joanne Crawford

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 . 

The Greenhouse, Leeds. Co working space. Portrait and lifestyle photography by Joanne Crawford

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. 

The Greenhouse, Leeds. Co working space. Portrait and lifestyle photography by Joanne Crawford

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.