Angela Small, Founder & Director of Conscious Vibes, a non-profit Community Interest Company (CIC), talks to us about the business support she received through the National Black Women’s Network and the 639 Enterprise Centre in Tottenham.
Angela Small had always wanted to set up her own business but initially lacked the confidence to get started. Then she attended a taster business support event organised by the National Black Women’s Network (NBWN). This led Angela to enrol on the NBWN’s ‘Evolve’ programme, a business growth programme aimed at solo and micro entrepreneurs. The scheme took place over a six month period and included information on finance, social media, competitor analysis, business pitching, and branding. It was the first stepping stone for Angela to recognise that her business idea “could go somewhere”. So she went ahead and launched Conscious Vibes which now publishes a digital magazine and hosts a range of events focused on the authentic cultural identity of African and Caribbean women.
Angela took a lot from the course but it wasn’t just the skills and knowledge she gained, it was also about the confidence boost she received from NBWN’s Founder and Director Sonia Brown MBE:
“Sonia was able to make me believe in myself. Within a couple of months I had hosted my first seminar on a snowy day but we still had about 50 people attend”
The NBWN aims to champion the advancement of women across all professional disciplines by recognising excellence, promoting leadership and positioning its members at the forefront of the corporate and business world. For Angela, the NBWN was key in building her business network. At one of NBWN’s events she met Dawn Butler, Member of Parliament for Brent Central. Dawn was the first African-Caribbean woman to become a Government Minister in the UK and supported Angela by providing an interview for her magazine and helping her to secure a high-profile venue for Conscious Vibes’ flagship event, the Ms Natural Hair UK Pageant. Other women that Angela has met through the network have exhibited at her events and she has now been involved in a range of collaborations with other NBWN Members.
As Angela’s business grew, she looked to move her business out of her home and the NBWN suggested a shared workspace in Tottenham where Angela now bases herself for one day a week:
“It takes me out of the home so I am not isolated and it is based at the 639 Enterprise Centre so it provides a great opportunity to network, get advice and collaborate. I also attend their workshops”
Following damage in the 2011 London Riots, the Grade II listed building at 639 High Street was re-born as a versatile space for business, employment and volunteering in the heart of Tottenham. Run by local charity the London Youth Support Trust (LYST), the 639 Enterprise Centre helps local people get started in business and gain employment skills. The desk space at 639 is run by Near Desk and is extremely affordable at £1 an hour or £6 per day.
Having secured affordable desk space away from home, Angela was then able to take on her first member of staff through a six-month volunteering programme. Not only did this increase Conscious Vibes’ capacity to grow, it provided a great opportunity for the volunteer who went on to secure paid work after leaving her volunteering role.
Angela is now looking to grow her business further, and after recently hosting the first Miss Natural Hair UK pageant is already looking at ways to make next year’s event a success.