A couple of weeks ago, I sat with other entrepreneurs learning about the art of negotiation - or quite simply the way of getting around objections. The presenters were successful and saw negotiation in some way as a sport, a skilful game with another person.
So I took their advice and readied myself up for my first week of negotiations for Authentic House. After all, there are plenty of great products we want to fit into our Home Box, and the first step was to speak to the makers.
Running an ethical business, it has struck me that most of my counterparts are female. Perhaps women are more likely to care about sustainability than their male counterparts or perhaps they're more likely to run a business linked to a passion. I don't know.
What I did realise though, was that negotiations among women, all running like-minded sustainable businesses was very different from what I had prepared for.
I've been speaking to a wonderful range of businesses, all founded by women - Maria Koekenhoff of Cassiopeia Knit Designs, Jo Woolvett of BUFF Natural Body Care, Tullika Bhalla of Boho Homes, Debbie Rees of Tabitha Eve Co and Lisa Valentine of Lisa Valentine Home (just a hint of the great things to come in our boxes!)
Here I felt only a strong willingness to work together. With a goal in common - to help people live more sustainable and ethically - the talk wasn't so much about profit or driving down costs, but paying fairly for the materials and labour and giving our subscribers a fair deal to encourage them to try out new options.
One by one, we're looking forward to introducing you to the brilliant and useful products these businesses create.
And then, negotiations out the way, we came simply to talking about where we are and the very experience of starting a business, with its ups and downs and the ongoing challenge that is finding biodegradable packaging... The founders I spoke to have had success because of the quality of their products and are passionate about what they do. They still have their challenges though, their doubts, and they need people like us to support them.
After all, negotiation doesn't need to be a sport and, when we stop treating it like that, there's no need for winners or losers.
In this week, I feel as though we've made some like-minded friends, people we can collaborate to fill up some exciting boxes for the coming months.
Remember, if you haven't joined our waiting list yet, we're offering 20% off if you join ahead of July. Plus we'll reserve you one of just 30 limited edition July boxes (thank you to The Prince's Trust for the start-up grant!)
Elsewhere in South Wales:
The Digital Festival
Did any of you make it over to the Millenium Centre earlier this week? It was a big move and upscale for the Digital Festival in Cardiff this year.
I attended on the first day, and what really stood out for me was an event, hosted by Space2B, where Alex Jenkins of the local cafes KIN+ILK, talked about the rollercoaster it was creating multiple cafes in the space of a year and the great things he's trying to do with their brand. N.B. KIN+ILK=FAMILY+FRIENDS
Commitment by Creative Mornings
Ceri spoke to us about commitment which, for her, really goes beyond pure obligation. It's more of a dedication. Commitment is remembering why you started your business, or creative project, in the first place and learning to take care of you in doing so, even when that means 'giving less of a s***'!
I love the bluntness of that way of saying it. One thing I'm trying to do myself with Authentic House is to look for the things I truly enjoy and spend time on them - designing and writing are important to me.
Ceri sees a business as a love story, going from early infatuation to dealing with the realities, wanting even to jump ship and yet knowing this is what she wants to do. One thing that's true is that a business or any work you put your heart into can last as long as relationship and take up even more of your time - so let's all find something we care about!
Our Launch Event - Creative with a Cause
This I'm really excited to introduce. Our launch event is on 21st June in Cardiff. We'll be announcing our new Home Box with bubbly and cupcakes to celebrate. There's also a chance to hear from local, sustainable entrepreneurs and talk exactly about how we can employ creativity for the causes we care for.
You're invited! Simply RSVP to attend.
And time for the weekend
From negotations on products to finding a biodegradable sticker, hauling our new recycled boxes home and writing the script for a potential new video(!), this has been a fantastic week full of new things.
Have a wonderful Bank Holiday weekend!