Monday, 2 April 2012

Mrs Shmoozy McShmooze

Firstly - and I need to get this off my chest - apologies for not posting for a while. Truth is, I have had my busiest month EVER. I have been completely rushed off my feet with hundreds of orders for my papercut family trees. Many of them were needed for Mother's Day, many of them still pouring in (at a non-gift-giving time of year to boot). I am truly humbled by your love for my shizzle. Thank you one and all.

Ok, onto the shmoozing news!

On Friday (30th March) I was lucky enough to have been invited by friendly dragon Theo Paphitis (woop!) to Birmingham's Edgbaston Stadium to attend Small Business Sunday's* (SBS) inaugural meeting for all past winners of SBS. I was beyond excited - as were my fellow winners and twitter buddies. There was much talk on twitter of planning the right outfit and '100 denier, too hot?'.

I took along my amazingly super friend and chief framer Wendy and we cadged a lift up to Birmingham with another winner Stephanie Carswell from Hawthorn Contemporary Gallery.

We were greeted by the sight of a super blinged up shiny silver car, presumably owned by Theo, so I guess we had found the right place...

On arriving we were handed our name badges and made our way up the lift to the shmoozing room where hundreds of small business owners were happily tucking into the endless supply of sandwiches and alcoholic delights. Nommy nom nom.

I was thrilled to finally meet in person my twitter buddies with whom I had been a-twittering with for aaages. the super amazing, dynamic and vibrant (in no particular order) Tia Lush (who ate my crayons), Heidi Bowman (Giddy Kipper), Jo Jenner (3blondbears), Gabriella Buckingham (MooBaaCluck), Helen Botrill (Kindred Rose), Lyndsey James (Lyndsey James Photography) and Charlie (Cherry Pie Lane) to name but a few.

Helen, Lyndsey and Me
Giddy, Cakeface, MooBaaCluck, Me and Hawthorn
After drinking some refreshing fermented grape juice and chitter chatting we were called in to the conference room where Theo's live twitter feed was up on the big screen. Muchos fun was had tweeting Theo and cheers would go up when one of us made it to the big screen. Childish? Us?

When all were safely gathered in we were treated by two and a half hours of Theo Paphitis and I can honestly say what a warm, funny, natural, relaxed, boozy, sweary all round lovely kinda chap he is.
He took questions from the floor, ran over time, joked and laughed and gave us amazing encouragement to make our businesses all we hope and dream they will be.

Theo takes to the stage
He introduced us to the new SBS website, designed and built by a past SBS winner Chris Wheeler and his team at Metal Frog. It holds a wealth of information about past SBS winners, plus loads of practical advice about running a business. It will no doubt grow arms and legs and become a very valuable tool to small businesses. Ah, the power of Twitter eh?

When Theo had finished, the (free! free!) bar opened and the schmoozing and meeting people began once more, while others were waiting to have their official photo with Theo as he presented their winners certificate.

Here's my cheesy shot official photograph:

I gave him a papercut and he gave me a certificate. Fair swap?

When we were all schmoozed out, it was time to head for home. On the way out we all were given a Rymans goody bag filled with super cool stuff. And by that I mean *actual* nice things, not just leaflets and samples of hand cream.

It was such a great day I hope there'll be more to come.

Oh and I couldn't resist a little sozzled lean on the shiny car with Lyndsey on the way out...

* To quote from the official website: "Small Business Sunday, shortened to the hashtag #SBS on Twitter, was created by Theo Paphitis in October 2010. Each Sunday Theo rewards small businesses that tweet him @TheoPaphitis and describe their business in one tweet including the all-important hashtag #SBS. Each week Theo reviews and chooses his favourite lucky six who are then re-tweeted. As he has over 230,000 followers, this provides a massive boost to the chosen lucky businesses. The benefits range from increased Twitter followers, to positive media publicity and crucially for many, increased sales! Of course, none of this is guaranteed as it is largely down to perseverance, hard work, and a smidgen of luck comes in handy."
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