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Imagine the world

Imagine the world was something I could resonate with; here I sat in the Coffee Corner of the Friends’ Café in the Hay Festival imagining the thoughts of those around me. Diverse images mulling around in the minds of the gentle folk sipping their particular coffee brew. My literature and creative mind was thrilled to be observing the thinkers and the book devotees whiling away a half hour or so. There were people milling everywhere here including a presenter whom I recognised. I left him to his group perhaps discussing old and ancient objects. The eyes darting everywhere; this was one person only half listening to his friends. There was a seam of good looks about him, his face determined and as sharp as the curios he may have handled in his time.

Two young ladies sitting nearby were speaking Welsh one to another, keeping alive the language of the principality despite being close to the border of England. My daughter, a journalist; shuffling her papers and finding her notes. Is she writing a story?

What are people thinking about when they are here? A white haired elderly guy, his short, but bouncy, locks brushed neatly over his ears and with shiny white eyebrows atop his tanned face, is reading the Telegraph. It is Saturday, and so a lot of people are engrossed in reading the paper of the day, the paper of the place. Of course, it is the Daily Telegraph, what else! They have sponsored the event since 2011. He is obviously a seasoned Festival goer, as he has the Friends’ lanyard adorning his cream summer jacket. He pushes his jacket aside as he makes room for his paper. I cannot help but admire him and with his purple shirt, he is on trend for this event. I am unable to describe the lady he has with him as she has her back to me. She nods now and then, as he looks up to give her some vital news.

I am blessed by the simple things as I am sitting at this silver topped table, adorned with a flowery jug imprinted with snowdrops. In the jug, is a display of flowers of Sweet William and Gypsophila spreading their heavenly tiny petals across the table.

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A young group are chatting amongst themselves; not one is reading a newspaper. Instead, they are tuned into their iPhones or laughing at something that only they can understand. Lots of auburn plaits and fudge-coloured pony tails in this chattering gang.

An Italian football fan with his sun-drenched face is wearing a blue t-shirt that is evidently his country’s colour. He, too, is deep into the Daily Telegraph perhaps studying the teams for the up and coming EURO 2016 Football Tournament! On the edge, a lonesome guy, rucksack backed, looks around obviously scanning for someone. But no, he doesn’t see the friend and turns around. No coffee for him yet.

I spot more Friends with their tickets enclosed Kangaroo style in their laminated pouches. The newspaper is being read avidly amongst this group, passing supplements along to their friends, “Have you seen this?”

A man, grey braised, trips over the lip of the entrance, smiles and whispers to his companion. A young man stares into the distance while the energetic waiters and waitresses bustle about, collecting the fallout of the coffee liaisons. I am scratching to ask which interesting folk they have already bumped into today, but I question not!

Palm fronds reach high over dipped heads and up to the glamorous sparkled curtain that is ribboning above the coffee beakers. There is indeed a calm and inspiring atmosphere blossoming, definitely here, as well as all over the festival site.

Chatting away on his glossy, green mobile is a guy in his mid fifties. He is wearing a striped green and black shirt to match his phone. His glasses are moving around as he crinkles his face with the conversation. He is so animated that he is oblivious to what is happening, even when his coffee cools before him.

It may be a coffee meeting place, but the champagne flows here too. There is a giant bottle cooling, and the orange sloping bucket tempts the viewer to come forward. But perhaps it is too early for this tipple?

There are ladies walking by, sharp blouses peeping from under their tailored jackets. They walk in, two by two, smiling and heading straight for the baristas. I notice a navy jacket above an expensive navy chintzy shirt with creamy hearts. Her friend has a neat short jacket too, but more of a curtain fabric, sprigged with herbs, leaves and ferns trailing off into a beige background. Her hair, being bobbed, seems to match the curtained look.

Some middle aged ladies, lattes in hand, approach the table next to me, and sit down. Out comes their A4 notebooks and they begin to discuss something very important. Could they be journalists, I mused? Again, very stylishly dressed; one with a navy and white striped top with a blood red side-buttoned skirt. Her companion sports a navy cotton summer dress with black sandals.

A tall girl, in her 20s, weaves through the tables, wearing black converse shoes, red a-flared short skirt and a black long sleeved t shirt. Her brown, shiny hair sails to her waist. With her sunnies on her head, she picks up her phone to text a friend.

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My latte has been drunk, I have made my notes, and I am packing up and moving onto the next stage of my day. My listening ear will be tuned into Bryony Gordon who is a writer for the Telegraph, and she proves to be wildly enthusiastic in her presentation of her latest book “Mad Girl” and passionate about her subject. I have enjoyed my time Imagining the World in Hay.

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Wonderwool – A Colourful Yarn

On a recent visit to the Wonderwool Wales Festival in Builth Wells, I was intrigued with the journey that wool takes from the sheep to the finished article, whether it was knitted, crocheted or weaved. The myriad of shades of wool and fibres, was a pleasure to behold wherever I turned in the vast halls of exhibits. I have always admired the gentleness of sheep and the way that they graze peacefully in their surroundings. This contented mood is, I believe, reflected in the woollen industry and it is easy to see why it is so therapeutic to work within.

My first “port” of call when I arrived was to Hall 3 where the azure ocean filled “Above and Below the Waves” installation had been orchestrated by Alison Murray from Devon. I loved the vibrancy of the turquoise ocean oozing with sea scuttles and boats. As I walked through, on dry land, the brilliant shades danced over the waves and the undersea rocks to change them into completely different shades. All the items on display had been knitted, crocheted, weaved or felted with love and patience by 2000 generous people to raise funds for the worthy charity RNLI.

Sarah Enoch has a heart for the Felting Workshops that she runs under her banner of www.calonwlanfelt.co.uk in my home town of Llandeilo. It was interesting to speak to Sarah as she has a vast knowledge of the felting process. She spends her time working for her workshops and she said that preparation is key. She loves dyeing wool and started five years ago. Before that, she worked for the RSPB and in conservation and this may have fuelled her passion for the lovely piece of work that she had displayed – the Dinefwr Oak.

I then spent time on the Cambrian Mountains Wool Stand.  See www.cambrianwool.co.uk. I loved how the colours of the wool sourced from the Cambrian Mountain area were created to reflect the area’s industrial heritage. I spoke to Jude Howards who told me that they are keen to promote wool from this area as it is excellent quality. I loved the different shades and I picked up a sample of some of the colours represented. Shades of “Slate” and “Gegin” and Hafan” certainly reflected the industrial sense but “Welsh Red” created for me a homely atmosphere; visions of a comforting blanket that one might associate with a Mamgu’s parlour!

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I could not leave the show without a visit to a button stand. The one I visited was www.textilegarden.com. There were so many interesting buttons. Should I choose the flowery purple ones or the earthy green ones?  Despite my love of colour, I opted for a large silver heart button and two small silver daisy buttons. I had no intention of sewing these onto a garment but would thread them onto a silver chain.

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Spinning wheels were everywhere with foot tapping exercises going on. I wondered whether it would send me to sleep if I used one, or would it have been good exercise? One or two spinners confirmed that it was relaxing. I think my patience would have run out long before I had a ball of wool to show for my efforts! However, I stood for a while mesmerised by the actions of the bright wool accumulating onto the spindle.

To complete my visit, I attended the Sheep Walk where brave models paraded vivid and cheerful items that were available to purchase. I left the event giving a friendly pat to a beautiful curly Wensleydale sheep and whispered “thank you for the yarn – it was a good one!”

Building your Tribe

Recently I travelled to Kidwelly in the south of the beautiful county of Carmarthenshire. I had been booked onto a Digital Marketing Planning workshop with the inspirational Michelle, the founder of Ferrycake Marketing and PR. My fellow attendee was Jennifer Foster of Energy Dynamics who also runs her business in Carmarthenshire.

Michelle brewed us some freshly roasted coffee and I glanced around at my surroundings. I noticed that the newly decorated office had the personality of its owner about it. It was a long room with one wall painted that vibrant tangerine orange that is instantly recognisable as the marketing brand of Ferrycake. The office had brightly coloured chairs which added to the mood of the room.

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Once we had sipped our coffee, we were handed A4 sheets with numerous headings – Current situation, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Actions and Control, which we then stuck to the wall. Michelle did not wish us to sit down but encouraged us to get up and walk about and think about our current position in regards to our digital marketing. We had our Facebook and Twitter and, together with our websites, this was surely a start! We then added our “thoughts” and “objectives” to Post-it notes to adhere to the sheets on the wall.  I wondered if I should have prepared more. Michelle explained to us that we should build our “tribe” – the connections that were important to our business. No, we were not in the Arizona desert but in rural Carmarthenshire.

Michelle was enthusiastic about social media, how it should be lively and that it was important to engage with our connections. A teaser question was useful as it pushed our prospective clients to our website and social media. She also advised that it would be prudent to get hold of logos from any businesses that we had worked with to “link” onto our social media and website (with their assent, of course). She dissuaded us from giving advice through our social media but just feed information through to encourage visitors to connect with us. Creating online videos could also prove to be useful to us.

We continued with our “Actions” with the aim of moving our Digital Marketing further.

Too soon, the morning had nearly ended, and we summed up how we could control our social media. It was time to create a report and analyse our work.  Who were these followers and who actually followed them?  It was important to have the right balance of the “f” people! This then led to the beginning of our Digital Marketing Plan. We had got through it and, for me; it proved to be an ideal “digital media mix”.

Perhaps, like me, you are commencing the social media circuit! You may need training! If so, contact Michelle at Ferrycake Marketing and PR – she brews a lovely coffee and if you fancy a “ferrycake” just ask!

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Contact: @ferrycake (Twitter) /ferrycakeconsultancy (Facebook) or email hello@ferrycake.co.uk.

 

The Fire Wheel of Confidence

The Fire Wheel of Confidence

It was with a spring in my step that I went along to the Carmarthenshire WiRE monthly meeting on Monday 18th April at Ore Knot in Bridge Street, Carmarthen. The venue (a first for WiRE) had been tastefully and beautifully decorated in popping citrus shades.

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Sarah MacDonald introduced the speaker, Belinda Ray, who encouraged us to gather around in a semi-circle. Firstly Belinda drew our attention to her colourful clothes, including bright socks, and she emphasised the importance of wearing something that was comfortable. Belinda showed us how our confidence can go up and down and how we can be wobbling on the inside, but displaying buoyancy on the outside. This was something that we could all relate to. She then enthused about her very creative “Fire Wheel of Confidence.”  She showed us how each flame represented something special to empower and enrich us.

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You will see in the picture that there were many flames but I will focus upon the following – authenticity, relationships and passion. It is so important to be authentic and honest, firstly to ourselves and to how we promote our business and by so doing, this fans a flame of reliability. Relationships – now this is a flame that we need to control as it could burn itself out. However, we need to nurture and create lasting friendships. As for that passion flame, we all need this for our business and keeping this well lit will ensure that we make great strides towards our goals; that confidence will fire within our souls!

Belinda demonstrated how to generate confidence which we can do in a number of ways. One example was “the power pose” (imagine it) and listening to “pump up music” which one or two of us did admit to doing. We do, however, all have our own ways. I was remembering a programme I had listened to on Radio 4 when a lady who had been a nurse during the Second World War explained that the nurses would apply bright red lipstick just as all the war casualties were coming in from the trenches. The sheer act of applying the lipstick invigorated their “get to it” mood.

We were then shown a cushion in a Mandala design with shades of blues and greens and were encouraged to throw it at each other, along with a positive statement like “I am strong!” Much laughter ensued as it was thrown with such passion and the statement that ignited us. This emphasised that having a good laugh can unlock that energy. The cushion tossing proved to be a lively exercise which helped with the cohesion of the group.

Belinda spread onto the floor inspiring and relevant quotations and she urged us to pick one that resonated with us and read it out powerfully. The one I read out was “When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. And when you have fun, you can do amazing things.” (Joe Namath). Actually, reading out such a statement empowered us there and then. Here is one that I have since thought of “What does not destroy me, makes me strong.” (Friedrich Neitzche).

If anyone had commenced the evening feeling despondent, I am sure that by the end they would have been bouncing with those vibrant flames of confidence!

Angie Davies 

#CarmsMeansBiz – So-Occasion (a finalist with joy!)

Finalist artwork 300 dpi jpeg (1)Imagine my joy and surprise when I discovered recently that I had been nominated as a finalist in the #CarmsMeansBiz awards and that I was invited to attend a gitzy event at the Corran Resort and Spa in Laugharne on Friday 18 March. I was thrilled to have been nominated and I look forward to the event with glee!

No matter what the outcome on the night, I am pleased to be able to display on my website the information – see here http://carmarthenshiremeansbusiness.wales/  There is also an event on the 21 April at Delme Thomas Building at Parc Y Scarlets in Llanelli, where you can showcase your business and your skills and perhaps add to your customer base. In any event, it is all great experience. Why not take up the opportunity and reserve your stand to be part of an innovative and inspirational event?

I am sure to be at the event on the 21 April and I look forward to meeting you there. Remember if you need assistance in encouraging those visitors over the threshold of your business stand, then So-Occasion can certainly help.

 

Why #So?

Many people have asked me why I named my business So-Occasion? When digging deep into my mind as to what I could call my new venture – this was a few years ago – I needed to have something that conveyed what it was that my business entailed. I liked the word occasion as this celebrates different ideas and thoughts, and my business was all about – giving a good service, being the best I could be, and incorporating excellent customer service. An occasion is an opportunity or a reason to do something. If I could do something outstanding and bespoke for the client I would be working for, then this would certainly be an occasion. Also, as I would be working towards an event or promotion of that event, then this word occasion really suited. So now I had the word occasion – I just needed something to back it up. Give it more oomph! Thinking about this probably took me another evening of deep thought, and so the word so came into my head as it seemed to convey that extra energy that I needed! The word so expresses intensification of the word that follows – it sorts of emphasises.

#So, that is the meaning behind my business name So-Occasion and you either love it or hate it. Thankfully, I love it especially as I travel on in my business venture. I have, as well, adopted the hashtag for #So, too! I also like that my business name gets people talking and wondering and that can only be a good thing.

As this post goes to press, I have just found out that So-Occasion has been nominated one of the finalists in the first Carmarthenshire Means Business Awards which will be announced later this month. Here is a link to the Facebook page. Carmarthenshire Means Business / Sir Gâr yn Meddwl Busnes

#Loveyourbusiness

IMG_5756With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, why not take the time to think about how much you love your business? Are you a business in the UK? If so, read on. Every business owner should have a passion for their business to give it the best possible chance of survival.

February is a good time to think about how attractive your customer service is and how you relate to prospective buyers. Your customers are at the heart of your product and So-Occasion believes that their needs are important. By being happy and wearing a smile on your face, customers will love your enthusiasm.  It is important to be open with your advice and get your customers on your side. Because you care, they will too.

Be prepared to give your business some loving attention. Think about the notices that you are displaying. Check regularly for out of date posters and renew them regularly. Nothing puts off a prospective buyer more than scruffy signs or expired posters. Do the same with your website. Keep pages fresh and fun!

If you are in a front facing position, always attend to a customer immediately with a friendly welcome and that all-important smile. As a business, it is vitally important to welcome your customers with a vibrant greeting. So exude that confidence and be really happy that they want to do business with your company.

Your telephone manner and tone is extremely important. Smile whilst answering the telephone as this is easily picked up by the caller and is reassuring. If your business relies on an answering service, make sure that it is answered efficiently and with up to date information.

So, have you forgotten something? Try to go the extra mile to ensure that your visitor receives the best possible customer service. This Valentine’s Day, think about your business, nurture it and give it room to blossom. Even if you are a small business, make sure that you have the biggest heart.

 

Welcome to the So-Occasion Web site

So-Occasion is a first class promotions company with experience in promoting businesses. They have that unique quality in that they work solely ‘one to one’ with no distractions. This actually means that whilst working for your company, So-Occasion are thinking about your business only and leaving thoughts of other businesses ‘at the door.’