Thursday, 25 April 2019

Photographer who brought village businesses together

Photographer who brought village businesses together

A BUSINESS network for independent traders in Sonning Common has celebrated its fifth anniversary.

Kathryn Willis launched Sonning Common Business Collaboration shortly after leaving her corporate marketing career to become a professional photographer.

The group meets every sixth Monday at the Butcher’s Arms pub in Blounts Court Road for networking, refreshments and talks by local guest speakers on different aspects of running a business.

It has about 60 members, of whom about a third attend every meeting. Meetings have covered a range of topics including marketing and business planning, data protection law, public speaking and building an effective website.

About 25 people attended the most recent meeting when  Mrs Willis gave a talk on celebrating success and maintaining a healthy balance between working and personal time.

Mrs Willis, who lives in the Churchill Crescent, Sonning Common, with her husband Richard and their five-year-old son Jake, talked about why she started the network and thanked the other members for their support. She also thanked landord Rob Blues for the ongoing use of the venue. The talk was followed by refreshments.

Mrs Willis, who runs Kathryn Fell Photography, said: “It was a very good morning and I was delighted with how many people turned out. The network has grown organically over the past five years and we now have a lot of regulars.

“When I was starting my business, I had a baby so I found it difficult to get out and make contacts and I thought there might be a lot of people like me who don’t have a shopfront to advertise their business. I thought it would be nice to bring together all the people working from home, in sheds or attics, and give them a chance to get to know each other while learning about relevant topics.

“I’ve been really touched by the support I’ve received over the years. It’s nice to have that small-scale group atmosphere and I think it can give people the confidence to attend other groups, which is important.

“It’s easy to go to networking events and just have a few chats with people over a cup of tea but you really need to buid those trusting relationships in order to succeed and grow.”

Mrs Willis is also administrator of the Henley Business Partnership.

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