The other night I was invited to a designer bag sale at Rockstar Hubs. My “date” had cancelled so I was free. The designer was Lidia. The invitation said that there would be drinks and nibbles. Handbags, drinks, food… How could I refuse?
For those of you that don’t know, Rockstar Hubs is part of the Rockstar Mentoring Group and offers mentoring and office space, plus other services, to small businesses or sole traders. The prescribed wisdom is that if you are in business, you need a mentor, and I’d say, with my limited knowledge, that’s true.
It’s also very useful to have access to office space, a receptionist and meeting rooms. It’s far more professional than taking someone through your house to the garden shed that you use as your office. Actually, in my case, my home office is a spare bedroom, so I couldn’t have business meetings in there. It’s too small and I think it would send out entirely the wrong message. I digress.
I first came across Rockstar Hubs earlier this year when I attended an event there in around February or March time. It was one of those networking events I’m invited to from time to time since I joined the London Entrepreneurs Network. That event was hosted by Matthew Black of Red E Ltd (ready, get it?), an entrepreneur who was a millionaire by the time he was in his early twenties. Matthew is a compelling speaker, I make loads of notes whenever I hear him and I have recommended his company to a number of people who, like me, have no clue about starting up in business. There is no shame in asking for help.
Back to the designer bag sale, they were still setting up when I arrived rather early, so I settled myself down to do some work. Have computer will work anywhere.
As I was early, I was fortunate enough to be able to start talking to the star of the show herself, Lidia of L & E Bags London. She gave me a guided tour of her bags, which were absolutely fabulous! And yes, the take off of the TV programme is intended; Patsy and Edina would have been in their element.
Lidia told me how she’d worked for some of the big names in the fashion industry and did a lot of international travel, frequently going to meetings straight from the airport. Appearances are important and they must be doubly so when you work in the fashion world. Lidia said that she found it difficult to find a bag that did what she wanted it to do. It’s true what she said: leather is lovely but it’s heavy and you don’t need excess weight when you are trying to look good. I know only too well how my oversized bag pulls my coats and jackets out of place.
So Lidia started to work on designs for bags that were practical but looked good. She also wanted to work with sustainable materials, a subject very close to both our hearts. A number of Lidia’s bags are made from cellulose – the very tough material that provides us with our food fibre in vegetables and fruit. (I could write a whole blog post about cellulose, it is such an amazing and versatile material, found in cotton and wood, used in things like photographic film, cellophane, rayon and paper, amongst others.)
Lidia’s bags are extremely high quality. One of the things that I always look for in bags is the finishing. (Obviously a throw back to Miss Murphy’s needlework class at school, I still come out in a cold sweat if I don’t “finish off” properly when sewing.). Almost all of the bags have some sort of removable “organiser” with inserts for credit cards etc.
Lidia has designed a tote bag – the Morgan – that has a strap on the back that will slip over the handle of your suitcase, so that it actually stays in place rather than jumping down to attack you when you are travelling across the cobbles in the airport car park. These bags have detachable inserts that can be used to store various items such as computers and umbrellas. Very useful.
My absolute favourite, though, was the Aston business folder, designed to take a 13” laptop, an iPad, a mobile and quite a bit of paperwork. There is even room for the laptop cables. I’m pretty sure I could fit in a couple of pen drives too, although I use Dropbox most of the time.
It is not an exaggeration to say that I went weak at the knees when I saw the Aston. The rucksack I have been using is way too bulky, it’s old and designed for a bigger laptop. I don’t generally travel light so something that was going to make my life easier and lighter would be worth its weight in gold. Anyway, Tammy, she of the Devil Fingers (see last week’s post) thinks I carry way too much. I placed an order for the Aston, which arrived within a few days, with a promise to myself that I will get at least one of the other bags very soon.
Lidia is a charming lady, and I was privileged enough to get to chat to her and one of her friends, as well as her PA, the lovely James. Everyone there at Rockstar is lovely, very helpful and friendly. If you are starting up a business, I’d get in touch with them.
For more info about Lidia, Rockstar, and RedE, check out the following:
© Susan Shirley 2015