Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Finished work at 6pm and duly trotted off to Jermyn Street to attend the very first marmaSOIREE. Despite leaving the office slightly later than I intended, I somehow managed to arrive at 6.20pm. I'm not sure that this has ever happened to me before and it caught me so much off guard that I stood under the clock on Jermyn Street trying to remember what I was doing. Oh yes. M1nt. Number 57. Only it appeared to be an office. Cue trying to balance hideously overstuffed handbag on one knee whilst digging through make-up bag, novel, spare ballet pumps (in case 4" heels got a bit waring), purse, crumpled receipts, tampons, packs of paracetemol and the other assorted paraphernalia that I persistently carry around on a daily basis to find my diary. Squinting to try and read my scrawl I see that it does indeed say 57. I peer through the door. It's definitely an office. "Are you looking for M1nt?" I turn around and another marmaREADER is standing on the street behind me, indicating the (now very obvious) stairwell to my left. "I think it's down here."

I follow her down the stairs and we are asked to put our coats in the cloakroom. I have only got my one handbag, which I am clearly not going to be leaving in a cloakroom, no matter how nice the venue. Which means that I spend the rest of the night hauling it around and having to negotiate all manner of rubbish every time I need to hand out my card. Note to self. Next time attending any kind of event, bring two bags. Lucy and Julia are on hand, both looking gorgeous and I start to regret having not changed out of my work suit into something, I don't know, more inspiring. Or less suit like? Never mind, something to remember next time.

Lucy hands me a complimentary cocktail voucher and asks me to put on my name badge. It is only later in the evening that I realise that everyone else has put their first and surname and their occupation/job. I have written, in slightly crooked writing, 'Rachel'. Thankfully I remembered to bring some cards with my details on though, so all is not lost. I collect my pink diamond cocktail and start chatting to a girl who looks vaguely familiar. We introduce ourselves and I realise that she is Danielle Proud. We chat for a while and she tells me about her book, House Proud, her Topshop line, her forthcoming BBC 2 show and her husband's new bar and I realise two things. That these networking events could actually be really useful as well as fun, and that if I ever want to get out of the job rut I have landed in, I really need to get my act together.

I spend the rest of the evening talking to a variety of interesting women and learning about their choices and businesses. I make arrangements with Janey from Fit for a Princess to sort out my vitality and Georgia from My Fashionista to do a wardrobe analysis. I catch up with some of the girls from the Fulham WI and have my photo taken by the marmaphotographer. I speak to a few girls who went to the same university as I did, one who photographs dogs (pawtraits) and many who are in fashion pr and personal shopping. Evreryone is friendly, enthusiastic about their business or job and willing to give and take advice. It is not how I thought networking events would be. There is real passion, real desire, a real drive for women specifically to succeed. Everyone is nicely dressed, groomed and no-one gets drunk. And then the place starts to empty. Girls leave for supper reservations or to meet up with friends. No-one outstays their welcome or hangs around looking for free drinks. Goody bags are civilly collected at the door. There is no grabbing; everyone there has manners and isn’t afraid to use them. It was enlightening. And the cupcakes were fabulous.


lain said...

That sounds truly fantastic, you obviously had a great evening. One of the guys at work is always banging on about how great networking is, and I know I really should start going to those kinds of things myself but I'm not sure Newbs is quite the place (or whether I'm brave enough!). Good luck with making those contact work for you!

Miss Hacksaw said...

Ooh, sounds fab! How did you get involved?

Anonymous said...

I was a pink-headed bug, climbing up the side of the Civic Hall

My Marrakech said...

Sounds like a very fun evening. But am feeling a bit covetous. Why oh why can't it be me who has written a book called House Proud?

Rachel said...

Thanks for all your comments. I got involved with the evening through the marmaladya website (link is on my side bar) and it was listed in the diary events. It was simply a case of responding via e mail and then being sent an e mail in return. The idea is that it is womens networking, so I guess it helps to be female, and it is first come first to get a ticket.

While I found it a very positive experience, it does leave one with a touch of 'why oh why did I not think of that, it's a great idea' etc.

Fred Flintstone said...

Why would anyone be 'afraid' to use manners? A strange choice of phrase.