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Last week I had the honour of speaking on the panel at Foodsync’s Stockport for Good event alongside branding designer Charlotte Holroyd of Creative Wilderness and ethical marketing specialist Karen Webber.

Having written about my thoughts on ethical web design earlier in the year, it was a pleasure to expand on this topic about which I feel so passionate. It was great to join Charlotte and Karen in sharing our experiences with small Stockport businesses on how to market yourself authentically and how to sell your values without selling out.

I’ve spoken before at events like Yena and MCR_Fred about running your own business, but this felt particularly special being in my hometown and within my local business community. I’m always grateful for opportunities such as this, so I would like to thank Alison from Foodsync for inviting me to be part of Stockport for Good.

Stockport independent business community

The crowd was made up of many great businesses from around Stockport and beyond, including the likes of Bespoke Coffee, Wardrobe Wellbeing and The Goodness Collective.

It was great to realise I knew a lot of people in the audience, which is always reassuring when you’re in this kind of scenario! I also believe it’s crucial for any independent business owner to surround themselves with good people, both in terms of establishing your support network and becoming part of your wider community.

Karen Webber from Goodness Marketing sharing some wise words! Photo by Camilla Cheung.

Sitting in the Rowena Room at The Light Cinema, it certainly felt like there is a thriving community of good people right here in Stockport.

The attendees were engaged as well as being engaging when asking questions and offering their own point of view. This all created a very positive atmosphere, and there was lots of (much deserved) love for independent shops such as Rare Mags, Plant Shop and Tandem Coffee House, which were all mentioned by the panel and those attending.

What does ‘goodness’ mean to you?

As a panel, we were asked to describe our own interpretations of ‘goodness’ as a business principle.

Karen and Charlotte, who are both people I respect greatly in how they run their businesses, shared their thoughts first. They were as always very open about their values, and spoke about the importance of being authentic and how goodness translates into being authentic and pricing their work honestly and fairly.

In my case, this question led me back to my business motto: “Good websites for good people”. I aim to use my skills to help people who want to improve their world around them and who provide a really high quality product or service (normally these two points overlap).

If I feel my involvement can help contribute to helping these businesses succeed, then that’s the start of a successful working relationship.

The Copenhagen letter calls for a more ethical use of technology in the internet age and putting people before profits

I also spoke about The Copenhagen letter, a pledge for those of us working in digital design to use tech responsibly and for the benefit of people.

Karen mentioned The Ethical Move, which is a movement working to empower conscious buyers by creating a new standard for marketing based on trust and honesty. And Charlotte spoke about being a rebel and doing business in a way that is far removed from corporate values.

We shared many practical examples of how business owners can live their values on a day to day basis, but also talked about the challenges that come with it. Despite it not always being straightforward, there was definitely a sense that it remains worth it to do the right thing, and that people who run their businesses in this way are not alone.

This idea of community and collaboration over competition was a big theme of the discussion, and it was heartening to see people respond so positively to it. There was definitely a feeling of excitement about the future, and particularly the future of good business in Stockport.

Tips for embracing your community

  • Be proud of who you are and don’t be afraid to put your values and personality on display – This will help you attract people who you genuinely connect with (and avoid those who don’t).
  • Engage with those around you – collaborate with other businesses, learn from them at their workshops, attend meetups and share knowledge.
  • Support other independent businesses, whether it’s making a purchase, bigging them up online or simply offering moral support.
  • Celebrate success in yourself and the other people around you.
  • If you haven’t yet found your community, create a new one! Charlotte co-founded the Conscious Entrepreneurs meetup as a way to connect with and offer support to like-minded ethical business owners.

Ethical stylist Camilla Cheung of Wardrobe Wellbeing said of the Stockport for Good event:

I felt lucky to be there, hearing [the panelists’] words and insights, realising I’m part of this amazing Stockport business community.

All four people sat around that table are making a difference: their values of authenticity, offering a grounded and honest approach to business, their personal services which stay true to themselves.

I’d love to continue to grow my community of like-minded small business owners. If you’d like to join me, please say hi on social media: I’m on Twitter and Instagram!

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