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Creative businesswoman creates a buzz in Barnsley

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A creative Barnsley businesswoman has set up a networking group with a difference which has gone from nought to 60 members in just three months.

The Crafty Business Networking Group is open to all Barnsley business people interested in doing crafts while making contacts and sharing ideas.

The idea is to do a spot of networking while knitting, sewing, crafting or jewellery-making and the initiative has been set up by Barnsley-based graphic designer and illustrator Steph Cronin.

Steph’s own business, Black Bee Creative, is supported by Enterprising Barnsley, a European-funded programme delivered by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.

Her networking group follows the format of the Sheffield Crafty Business group which has been running for nearly a year.

Steph said: “We thought a ‘Crafty Business’ group would work in Barnsley’s close-knit creative and digital economy too and have been delighted to attract more than 60 members via social media already.

“About a third attend each of our monthly events and give 60 second introductions about themselves and their businesses before getting stuck in the something crafty and having a chat.”

Crafty Business is open to business owners and entrepreneurs in all sectors – not just those who work in craft.

Steph said: “This way of networking helps people get to know one another in a different way to conventional business-card-swapping events.

“It is a chance to share ideas, problems and solutions whilst having a go at something creative and is a real antidote to traditional networking.”

Barnsley Crafty Business meets 6pm-8pm at the Oak Star Café at Barnsley Civic, once a month.

Events so far have been attended by a photographer, animator, accountant, hotel events manager, social media consultant and a compliance training director amongst others.

Craft-working members of the group will also take on a ‘pop up shop’ together at next week’s Arcade Christmas Festival, on Saturday December 6th, 10am – 5pm, in the Arcade, Barnsley. They’ll be selling their own creations and leading workshops.

Enterprising Barnsley’s creative and digital sector specialist Tracey Johnson said: “It is great to see an initiative like this being set up within Barnsley’s thriving creative and digital economy by an entrepreneur who is currently growing her own business.

“Opportunities to get together to share ideas and challenges are invaluable for creative businesses, particularly when they are led by those working in the sector, so it’s great to see local companies taking the lead on this.”

Steph has 14 years’ experience working in graphic design and set up her own company, Black Bee Creative, 18 months ago.

She has recently handled work for Independent Training Services, Dale Office Interiors, Preferred Futures and Creative Recovery, a local charity which provides alternative therapies for people recovering from mental health, drug and alcohol problems.

Steph also takes commissions for illustrations and artwork.

Enterprising Barnsley has given Steph support to develop Black Bee Creative’s website, marketing and business strategy.

Steph said: “The support I’ve had from Enterprising Barnsley has been amazing and really helped me develop my own business.

“I am particularly committed to working with ethical businesses doing positive things and love to work collaboratively too. So, getting crafty with other local businesses fits in well with my business outlook too.”

Proceeds of Crafty Business meetings, which cost £3 to attend, are donated to Creative Recovery.

Steph Cronin at Crafty Business
Steph Cronin at Crafty Business

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