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Source: © NorthStar Supper Club, Guest speakers and panel. Photo cred: Mel Boyle from ommactive.com
Sometimes a ‘thing’ crosses your path and you know it’s going to change your life, in ways you can never envisage. For me, that was attending the inaugural NorthStar Supper Club (even the words, ‘Supper & Club’, conjure up an image of style and fun).
Me and Ursula Murphy of Ohhsocial.com
A couple of weeks back, I spotted an advert for a women’s business-networking concept, to be held at The Merchant Hotel. The gorgeous and gregarious Kelly Neill, owner and founder of Panacea Drinks, was bringing something new to Belfast. This, for me, was a no-brainer. I love The Merchant, and I love women in business; so, I clicked and bought a ticket.
While I like the idea of business networking, I’m not a big fan of standing up in a room full of people and telling my story. No judgement here, it’s just not me, and perhaps you could argue it’s something I should work on. I work as a Business Consultant, and a Lifestyle Blogger, so the story would be a bit convoluted; but, I could listen to other people’s journeys, all day long.
Kelly’s vision was to ‘create a luxury, networking experience. Bringing together a really high calibre of guest where new connections, business and friendships could be created.’ Well she certainly achieved that – in spades!
Not quite sure what to expect, I arrived at The Merchant Hotel, to be presented with a sparkling glass of skinny prosecco (definitely off to a great start), and a bustle of smiley, buzzing females. Any hint of nerves was left on the doorstep.
Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. Name badges and business cards were swapped, as we chatted and mingled. I know this was a business event, but everyone just looked was so god damn glamorous (thank you Curtis Flynn, glad I’d made an effort). After the initial intros, we all moved through to where the presentation and dinner would be served.
Now, I’m in The Merchant a LOT, but the function rooms never cease to amaze. So pretty, so professional, so feminine. I’d hooked up with my chum, Ursula Murphy from Ohh Social, so we got seated together (did I mention she’s been shortlisted for a 2017 DANI Award, for the #appoftheyear?), but I don’t think I spoke to her, for the rest of the evening. That’s the wonderful thing about networking; it forces you out of your comfort zone and connects you with all sorts of interesting people.
I was also seated beside Russell Yates, husband of Karen Yates, founder of Coleraine luxury bag brand, Taylor Yates. I’d just been drooling over their dreamy soft leather goods, in the foyer, so it was nice to hear the story first hand. PS: if any of my (really good) friends read this blog, this Doris Clutch, in cloud white, would make a wonderful gift.
Over dinner, I also got to chat with the CEO of The Cancer Fund for Children, Gillian Creevy, who I’m hoping to hook up with, over lunch. All this, and it wasn’t even 8.00 pm!
I’d never met our host, Kelly Neill (I think she's my new girl crush); but, from the moment she stepped up to talk, I knew I was going to like her. An established businesswomen in her own right, she spoke with warmth, humour and knowledge, which set the tone for evening. Kelly then went on to introduce a stellar line of up of influencers, bloggers, and business owners. Louise Rumball - Chapter Three, Tiffany Brien, Diane McStay - The Style Studio Blog, Kerry Nevins - Babocush, Karen Yates - Taylor Yates. All shared their inspiring, personal journeys, from dream to reality.
Guest speaker, Louise Rumball, was very funny (encouraged by her bestie Tiffany Brien, with whom she was sharing a stool), and told of her incredible and inspirational journey from Lawyer, to founder of London and Dubai agency, Chapter Three; but, Louise was here to talk about 'Influencer Marketing' and how is it growing?
With social media becoming a massive part of a customer’s purchasing process, if a customer is teetering between which product or services to purchase, an influencer's review or recommendation can “influence” their decision. As a blogger, I understand the power of this reach, but it was great to hear the outstanding statistics and case studies, from Louise. With the proliferation of social media, there's no better time to leverage influencer marketing, to grow your business.
It was such a great night, catching up with old and new friends, and getting a much-needed dose of inspiration. On a personal note, I was so chuffed to see Lynsey and Leah from The Secret Day Spa, with their super luxury Lusso Tan. I’ve long been a fan of TSDS, so I’m delighted to see their product doing so well.
So, as the night drew to a close, some us moved to the bar (not the wisest of moves), as we were all still buzzing with ideas and inspiration. Thursday night was EVERYTHING I'd hoped for, and so much more; I had met so many wonderfully creative business owners.
“When women support each other, incredible things happen.” It’s a cute saying, which we’d be inclined to double-tap when it comes up in our feed; but, it’s more than a ‘grammable’ quote. It’s a fundamental truth that we see play out in our work, each and every day. Therefore, I know I won’t be alone in wishing to thank Kelly Neill, for bringing together such a wonderful, inspiring and supporting business community, who have now joined forces, to create something incredible. Congratulations Kelly, and thanks for having the vision. Can’t wait for the next time.