TRCH The Merry Widow

Think at Kiosk: Cobden Chambers' New Business Advice Cafe

29 January 17 interview: Alex Kuster

Tucked away in Cobden Chambers are a couple of relatively new hidden gems to the city – Think and Kiosk. Beth Marriot, Emma Torrance and Jeanne Booth are three creative women who’ve joined forces to create a business that produces outstanding food while supporting other up-and-coming businesses. We sat down with them to find out exactly what they’ve cooked up...

photo: Mark Leary

How did your ideas for the businesses and the crossover come about?
Beth: We all met at Blue Stockings [a group of freelance women who support each other in their careers].
Emma: We’d talked about starting a business together, and practising business well and in a different way...
Beth: What it is to be a business owner and what impact that has on your life. Both practically and emotionally. We wanted to have somewhere where you can ask questions. Practical, life-based stuff...
Emma: And to create something that nourished you as well as your business.
Jeanne: The key word for us was ‘nourish’. Thinking about how you feed creativity, enterprise and change in the workplace.

How does it all work, and how do you support both new and established local businesses?
Beth: We want to support new businesses and people, but also nourish people with good food. Kiosk is not another chain restaurant and Think isn’t a crap business course. It’s about going somewhere different.
Emma: We want to feed the body, soul and mind. We’re a place that people can try and develop their thinking and then put it into practice, so new businesses can test out things without having the money to necessarily set up a shop. They can hopefully learn something and experiment, and see what works for them.
Jeanne: I’ve always had this thing about creative people collaborating and working towards a greater social change.
Emma: And that’s how we all feel, really.

What is it you wanted to achieve from bringing Think and Kiosk together?
Emma: When we aren’t doing other things, we hire out the space for a mixture of things. From daytime meeting hire, to recently having the Literature Festival, which was a real success.
Jeanne: We love to offer the space up for lots of different, thought-provoking events.

The pop-up shop idea is amazing for up-and-coming entrepreneurs to debut their product...
Jeanne: The idea behind them is for people to try out an idea and create a safe, happy place to practise without too much commitment.
Emma: Also, for those who wouldn’t necessarily have the means or desire for a permanent shop. It allows people to have an occasional space, not only for businesses that want to sell things, but also for art.
Jeanne: The space is so versatile that it can be used for a public exhibition, a workshop or a gallery. Anything.

photo: Mark Leary

What advice can you offer to someone wanting to do a pop-up and try out a business idea for the first time?
Jeanne: We are currently developing a programme, Preparing for a Pop-Up, that helps people who are new to it all.
Emma: Something to help them with selling, particularly in a temporary setting.
Jeanne: It’ll be four sessions that will go through what it is you want to do, making a plan for what you want from the shop: prices, promotion and talking to customers. Then, at the end of the sessions, you get a free pop-up to put your learning into action.

The food at Kiosk is delicious, healthy and different. What inspires your recipes?
Beth: It depends what I’m reading and listening to. At this point in time, Diana Henry is a very big inspiration and a great writer, as well as Ottolenghi and the London food scene. Travelling in Australia really inspired me, Melbourne particularly, and my family definitely inspires me. My great-grandma was an early vegetarian and brought up my whole family vegetarian at a time when it wasn’t really a thing. We used to have these massive family gatherings where everyone would cook and bring food. It was very much a communal style of eating, so when I first started, I used to have supper clubs at my house and share food.

I really like the idea of educating people to eat, and eat well. Also, food with a narrative, things that really make people go “Wow”, and know and see where their food is sourced from. A bit more of an entire eating experience.

What can Nottingham expect to see from Think and Kiosk in 2017?
Emma: Mainly networks, workshops and supported co-working. We have a whole new range of workshops.
Jeanne: The supported co-working takes place every week, from Monday to Wednesday, and allows people to sit down and get on with their work, but have an expert readily available to them to ask questions.
Emma: It’s a place where you can learn in a hands-on way. A popular one has been working on your social media, where we have Debbie Dooo Dah helping people to do things better. We’re also part of Light Night on Friday 10 February – our event is a sort of homage to David Bowie and Brian Eno that links nicely to the Festival of Science. Beth will be doing some wacky food inspired by science. Exploding things.
Jeanne: We’re also going to have a series of regular dinner parties called Supper Conversations – themed evenings that open up discussions to bring the people together who are in the city. Anyone who has something to say can share their thoughts over a fantastic meal.

Kiosk and Think, Cobden Chambers, Pelham Street, NG1 2ED. Drop in, give them a call or check their website for full details of upcoming events, workshops and co-working days.

Think at Kiosk website

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