Space at 61 is a venue for hire in Peckham, South East London. Founded by Shona Chambers, Space at 61 sees themselves as an Airbnb for businesses, clients can book the venue from one hour to a day for all creative uses. The venue can also be used by entrepreneurs and small businesses for hosting events. Founder Shona runs her consultancy business from the venue providing help and support to small business clients.
On the first Friday of every month, Shona holds monthly networking events between 10am and 1pm. Around 30 small business owners attend the events, which are a mixture of networking and listening to the guest speaker.
Recently, Shona and Space at 61 have ventured into evening networking opportunities over dinner. These have proved extremely popular and over time, Space at 61 have developed a large community of over 400 people in the Facebook Space at 61 Group
Continuing with our #WomenInSMEs campaign, it was great to get the opportunity to interview female entrepreneur Shona about her journey founding Space at 61.
1. Hi Shona, thanks so much for taking the time to get involved in our campaign. Space at 61 sounds like a really cool venue. Can you tell us a bit about why you set it up?
I started my business originally in May 2012. I moved out of a corporate job working in Marketing to set up the business of my dreams a cafe deli which I renovated from scratch & spent a year training for & sourcing all the products.
The cafe itself was not financially successful so I decided to reuse the space as an event space instead, this is where Space at 61 was born from.
It has not been an easy journey transitioning through all of those three stages of my business from corporate to the event space, but I have kept the faith, and learned a lot from other small business people along the way.
2. That’s really impressive. What would you say has been your greatest success in business?
My biggest success has probably been managing to keep the space going from the very beginning in September 2016, when my youngest child was just 10 months old and I closed the doors of the cafe with no idea where the next penny was coming from. To go from that to building up the thriving, diverse business it now is. And then extending into my marketing services again back in the summer.
3. Thanks Shona. What would be your biggest piece of advice to other female entrepreneurs just starting out in business?
Get out there and meet as many other entrepreneurs as possible. It is so important to make connections with real people and not rely on the online community which can feel quite competitive and hollow.
4. Can you explain why you were drawn to the campaign, and offer a comment on why you think it's important?
I had literally just attended a talk by the Channel 4 newsreader Cathy Newman who has written Bloody Brilliant Women, when I saw your campaign.
During Cathy’s talk, which was about putting women back into the history books, she mentioned that at one point she discovered a male colleague was earning £10,0000 more than her for the same job, and he was much more junior.
The gender pay gap is still a huge issue today.