Helena and Richard Vitola-Jones, Co-Founders of MEWs, creative workshops to reduce workplace stress and burnout, tell us about how their experience at Bloomsbury Beginnings has helped shape their start up journey
As creative entrepreneurs and new parents with a love for nature and artistry, we were drawn to both the course and its setting at the Calthorpe community garden. I (Helena) came to the International Women’s Day event held by Bloomsbury Beginnings in March 2017, and was inspired by the people I met there and the lively atmosphere that children-inclusive attitudes created. As I was looking for a basic intro to business practices for start-ups, it gave me a good grounding to sign up for the course a month or so later.
The first session of the course was relaxed and uplifting – I found the small group size worked really well to help us to share and feel at ease. I was particularly struck that one of my potential customers – Jacqueline, an HR Director who had recently left her role at a large financial organisation – was sitting right next to me! She was really positive about our proposition – hands on creative Micro Experiences in the workplace to reduce burnout and stress. She offered me incredibly helpful insights and was a pure delight to work with. It was a great start, and I looked forward to the opportunity to come back to this supportive group each week.
Working with the information I received and developed in the group between the sessions empowered us to come up with a pilot ‘minimum viable product’ we were able to test at a wellbeing festival soon after the course.
Relationship with some of the women on the course is still ongoing: Jacqueline has continued to give us invaluable business mentoring support; we meet up with the media doula and it is great to know Ann is always around with her warm, welcoming greeting and always a useful contact up her sleeve. Richard and I also recently joined a Bloomsbury Beginnings’ organised visit to Google HQ, where we met with their employees on a volunteering day of mentoring who gave their point of view on our business idea, as well as giving us more useful insights in to what and how Google arranges for their employee wellbeing.
We are excited about what the year ahead will bring for us and MEWS, and appreciate all the support Ann and Bloomsbury Beginnings have given us on our journey so far.
2020 Update: If you are working on a start up idea our programme might be for you. Our next course starts in January 2021