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Collaboration - the polar opposite of networking

9th March 2020

Photo courtesy of Shop at Seed


I want to talk to you about collaboration.

This week my friend and super talented ceramicist Gabby from Shop at Seed launched her new website. I know for a fact that this has been a long time in the making. I remember sitting around her kitchen table a year ago talking about how she wanted it to look and feel and that creating this site wasn't going to be a quick job. And now it's live I can see why. Because it is not just an informative site to jump onto quickly to find out facts and figures . It is a piece of art in itself. It is a beautiful site to enjoy perusing even if you're not planning to purchase anything. It is like the coffee book table of websites. And I challenge any one of you not to want to 'add to cart' by the time you've finished perusing. Go on, I dare you...

Gabby and I first met back in 2017. We were both at the start of a new path, neither of us knowing where it may lead, Gabby having left a highly successful career in PR and myself having left a career in theatre and events. We were introduced by mutual friends (sounds like we were set up on a blind date - ha!) who were keen to get local creatives together. We continued to stay in touch and meet up regularly whilst our new careers grew in parallel, both of us being each other's cheerleader and willing each other on when we had dips in confidence. I remember us imagining a time when I might have a shop from which I could sell and serve from Gabby's wares. It felt like a bit of a pipe dream, for both of us. And yet here we are a couple of years later with the shop a reality that stocks Gabby's unique ceramics . We spent months designing the MMB beaker that is now available to buy exclusively from the shop and from which we serve coffee in for passers-by that want to sit in at the window, people watching. The MMB x Shop at Seed range now includes mugs for tea and plates for toast. And we have a regularly changing range of Shop at Seed ceramics for sale which we are honoured to stock. They are a beautiful addition to the shop and make the space even more inviting to visitors.

Gabby and I have done pop-up shops together and are planning future events. It keeps our creative energies buzzing and by collaborating together and with others we develop ideas and plans that would definitely not have come to fruition if we hadn't got each other to brainstorm with and evolve alongside.

Gabby is one of a number of local creatives that give me a real drive to continue to grow, evolve, create. Anna from Anna's Flower Farm, Mandy from Momentum Creative, our very own Sally who makes all our buns and strives to always improve and innovate for MMB whilst also being a talented artist at the same time - Sally Roper Artist. To name just a few. I guess back in the 80s this kind of collaboration would be called networking. Full of people in suits exchanging business cards, slapping each other on the back, congratulating each other on the size of their...empires... and going for extended boozy business lunches concluding in promises to make millions together ("we're going to build great big ships together" - guess the film quote?). Well having never been one for walking into a room of strangers, this way of meeting like-minded people seems far more natural. Our links grow organically and then in time ideas and joint working comes to us naturally. And it is a pleasure, not a chore, and it gives us our creative fix so it's not all about invoices, bill paying and ingredients' shopping lists.

I urge anyone possibly stuck in a rut or not knowing quite where to turn next to open yourself up to any opportunities that naturally interest you. Whether for work or in your spare time. If it doesn't appeal to you instinctively then it's not for you and nothing good will come from it. If there's a person, or a place, or a space that makes you feel excited or inspired then explore this further. Just go and spend time in that space or send a DM in Instagram to someone you admire. Find others locally that inspire you and if you're nervous to approach them in person then get to know then on Instagram or Facebook first. It's far easier to feel confident and put yourself out there from behind a screen to begin with. Go and have a coffee regularly on your own in a place where you feel comfortable and before you know it you'll start talking to others that also like that particular place. And who knows what conversations and collaborations may come from it two years down the line.

Oh and if the bowl in the image above appeals (photographed beautifully by Stella Pereira, another local creative that I hope one day to work with in some exciting way, whatever that may be) then we have it available for a limited time at MMB. There's just the one so get there quick if you want to bag it.

This Week's Sourdough

Our special this week is going to be the Potato & Rosemary Sourdough. We roast the organic potatoes slowly in our ovens before chopping them up and mixing them gently into the dough along with the rosemary. Last time we did this loaf a local potato farmer approached us and offered us some of her potatoes the next time we did it as a special. Typically I forgot all about this until today so I may have left it a little late, but I'm going to do what I can to get local tatties because, well it just gives one that warm and fuzzy feeling doesn't it. This loaf will be available on Friday and Saturday.

Our brown sourdough will be the Baker's Blend, available Thursday through to Saturday. This is when Jeff and I get a bit carried away with our flours and chuck in a mixture of everything to see what comes out. Ok so it might not be quite as erratic as that but it is a bit of a pick and mix of the darker flours and seeds. We will have Super Sours and Walden Whites Thursday through to Saturday and Rugbrøds and Tinned Whites will be on offer on Friday and Saturday.

Buns this week will be Cinnamon Buns and Speculoos Buns and of course our Sourdough Cookies and Rye, Espresso & Milk Chocolate will be on the counter for those lucky enough to get to us earlier rather than later.

I hope this is enough to entice you in later in the week. And if not just pop in and say hi. You never know who you may start talking to...


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