Let’s start from the beginning, what made you want to start a business?
The idea for Connected Brighton came to me while we were in the deep dark depths of lockdown. My social circle had shifted, I was single, I wanted to put money back in the independent businesses of Brighton who I was watching struggle to survive and I needed a new tribe to enjoy the city with when lockdown ended. I love my mates but due to various factors they aren’t as accessible or able to socialise the way we used to. Covid, relationships, kids, health and rising costs all playing a part. I thought if I need this, someone else must need it too. And Connected Brighton was born.
Starting a business in a pandemic, that must have been difficult?
I always joke how the title of my memoir will be “How I started an in person social events company in a socially distance pandemic and became a millionaire”. But seriously, there really is never a perfect time to start a business, and actually what you have to offer could be the perfect antidote to the current climate. Connected Brighton worked because of the pandemic, people needed people.
So what was the original idea?
The original plan was for a monthly diners club, and then expanded into the breadth of weekly event we now host. I also thought being single that we would only attract single people, but our first event had couples which took me by surprise. I hadn’t realised that couples needed to make friends too, due to the same reasons I had as a single person. Social circles change. And of course so many people moved to Brighton in the pandemic and hadn’t had a chance to build their network. Suddenly Connected Brighton had a much bigger audience and purpose.
How does it work?
Download our app or check out our website www.connectedbrighton.com to see all our weekly events. Anyone can attend as a guest or sign up to become a member to save money on all our experiences and get discounts from local brands. We support local in everything we do from where we host events, to our member offers to our sponsors. I’m always encouraging our community to shop small and local to keep Brighton boutique and unique! We also host a monthly podcast to share Brighton stories with some of the cities most loved figures in entertainment and hospitality.
What types of events do you host and who comes?
We like to showcase the city and promote local. We do everything from fancy dinners, to wine tasting nights, ping pong tournaments, petanque, brewery nights, karaoke and kayaking. Plus cocktail evenings, workshops and theatre nights. Everything we do is made bespoke for our group, personally hosted, curated and locally led. There are at least two events every week for small groups to connect. We have lots of lovely members who come out regularly with us, typically most people are over 35 and looking to expand their social network.
What impact has Connected Brighton had on you?
It’s changed my life. I’ve never felt more passionate, purposeful or empowered as I do running a business. It’s tough and brilliant all at once. I’ve watched people become friends, get into relationships and support each other through the tough times. I’ve made new friends, learnt so much about my city and found skills I didn’t know I had.
And now it’s not just Connected Brighton, you’ve got a singles brand now too.
Yes! We just launched our sister brand, The Single Sessions, our collaboration with Laura Buckley from Secret Alchemy. Connected Brighton is friendship focused, The Single Sessions is aimed specifically at singles looking to date and expand their single network. We also host workshops to help singles feel happy and confident because it should always be win/win whether you are single or with someone special. There’s a very boring assumption that if you are single you must be lonely, but I love the freedom of being single! We wanted to do dating differently, moving away from speed dating and instead hosting singles parties.
What advice do you have for other people thinking of starting a business in the city?
Follow your gut and get advice from the amazing pool of business support networks in Brighton.
The Jubilee Library with the BIPC is a great place to start. I offer gifted coaching here to support entrepreneurs with their wellbeing, there are loads of 121 experts all giving free advice to help you.
I just started hosting the Brighton Business Show on Radio Reverb with Ben Duffy, my co-host from our podcast to help people navigate the ups and downs of running a business. Being able to give back to the business community has been really important to me as I was made to feel very supported when I started and it made such a difference to my journey.
You are literally connecting Brighton! What’s next for you?
Continue to build Connected Brighton and The Single Sessions, grow our radio show and give back to the community as much as I can all whilst having a brilliant time in this fabulous city of ours.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I’m a social butterfly forever socialising with family, friends and people I’ve met through my businesses – that’s why my business never feels like work! I also love exercise, travel and trash TV.
Where can people find you?
I am all over social media, give us a follow and subscribe to our newsletters.