Southend's Thrive Collective Meet Up
Thrive Collective is a supportive network of Southend independants, created and hosted by Rachel Kruyer of Hugo’s Pantry, and Emily Vermont of Indirock.
Hugo’s Pantry has been regularly supplying sweet treats and bakes to cafes and coffee shops across Southend for several years. Rachel has also been a passionate supporter of local and independent businesses, connecting with many through her work. This is how her friendship and business relationship with Emily began. Indirock, Southend’s new indoor climbing wall, needed a coffee shop: enter Hugo’s Pantry!
As their business plan developed, so did their passion for indie shops and going against the grain. They spotted a need for local businesspeople to connect and support each other, and so Thrive Collective was born. What started as the dream of a bright future, attracted a whole host of supportive individuals, each with their own story to tell and each with ideas, advice and connections.
So far events have been held at Ramen+Chill and Piehole Pizzas, and the most recent meeting took place at Hugo’s Pantry Coffeeshop & Indirock. Emily & Rachel co-hosted the meeting with consultants from We Made That, a team commissioned by the Council to produce a new urban masterplan for Southend since being granted City status.
Becoming part of their consultation process, Thrive Collective invited business owners from up and down the high street to share their ideas and needs with We Made That and what came out was a whole host of constructive and actionable ideas.
A key take-out was the need for space on the high street offering affordable rents, which could take the form of shelf-space based rental agreements, where many micro-businesses could be showcased through maker’s market style units. This would provide access to regular footfall and an opportunity to grow their business at an accessible price. The City is packed with indie businesses and creative entrepreneurs who have the vision, and just need support in getting in front of their customers.
This concept has been shown to be successful for Show Up Southend who joined the meeting. Duo Rachel and Avril have held market stalls all over the borough and even also through a highly successful pop up on Hamlet Court Road, where local artists and makers could sell their work through Show Up Southend. Their website also brings together events, exhibitions and performances by local creatives into one big accessible hub, driving footfall and therefore supporting venues and performers alike.
Another idea welcomed by many business owners was to cover boarded up shops with artwork to create a canvas that represents the vibrant personality of Southend. As visitors arrive by train, bus or on foot, business owners want them to feel excited and inspired by what they will find on our high street. Each shop, cafe and experience is a part of that journey down the high street - why not make our high street a living canvas?
With a renewed City status, a revived marketing strategy would also be welcomed that reflects the diversity, the independent businesses thriving in our high street and which celebrates the talent and passion that runs through Southend City.
Benedict Hurley from PONG, Essex’s first dedicated ping pong venue, also attended the meeting and said “We’re excited to have joined the new wave of indie businesses on and around Southend’s high street. What we’ve seen so far is a wealth of local people looking to grow and develop, and with the support of our local authority we feel there’s a real opportunity to get that all important-buzz back after a rough few years.”
Indirock’s Emily says “We love our City of Southend and we think we have one of the most supportive councils, so we were thrilled to host a meeting bringing indie business owners together with the consultants working on Southend City’s new urban vision. We can’t wait to see the results!”
If you are an independent business in Southend and are interested in attending, please contact the team via their Instagram profile @thrivesouthend.
*Please credit photos by Si Brandon Photography.
Portrait photograph shows Rachel and Avril from Show Up Southend.