So, a week on from Coffee Birmingham day, here’s a quick piece to reflect on what was a brilliant day, on the last few months in general and to announce what is happening next!
Quickly, on Coffee Birmingham day, I was heartened by the coverage, the reviews and the general positivity from all the customers who frequented independent coffee shops in the build up to and on the day itself. I would like to thank Coffee Brum’s supporters and volunteers, and most importantly the customers who visited the indies on the day itself, many of whom were here for the first time.
The build-up to Coffee Birmingham day and to the launch of Coffee Birmingham itself back in July has been a challenging one, and far more than I have envisaged it would be.
The story of Coffee Birmingham goes back to about this time a year ago when my girlfriend and I discussed the idea of getting Birmingham’s independent coffee shops involved in a large event to showcase, celebrate and drive new customers to independent coffee shops.
Early into 2012, I started to talk to the indie coffee shop owners and baristas about the idea of putting on such an event. A few ideas were exchanged at the time.
Since the early discussions about putting on an event, the shape of Coffee Birmingham has changed in response to the interest, not merely from independent coffee shops, but from partners, sponsors and advertisers who have shown their support for a positive movement promoting independent businesses across Birmingham.
We have achieved a lot in a short space of time:
<li>a dedicated movement dedicated to promoting #indielove and showcasing independent businesses across the city with a strong social media presence, especially on twitter and having garnered PR local and radio and newspaper coverage;</li>
<li>the buy-in and support from independent businesses across the city;</li>
<li>sponsorship from Enterprise Nation and Set and Match</li>
<li>advertising support for independent businesses;</li>
<li>the launch of the Declaration of Independents which has garnered over 200 names to the support of independent businesses;</li>
<li>Superjelly – a supersized version of Birmingham #jelly taking place at three independent coffee shops instead of the usual one;</li>
<li>the launch of the Coffee Club Collective’s first exhibition;</li>
<li>and, of course, Coffee Birmingham day itself.</li>
Of all of these, securing sponsorship from Enterprise Nation was a major breakthrough in terms of advocating what Coffee Birmingham was doing to support small businesses, but gave me a small amount of marketing budget to pay for some of the costs incurred already on promotional work and design. This has nearly covered my costs but alas not any of my time!
Yet, one thing is for certain, Coffee Birmingham has not been smooth sailing and it has been at times very frustrating. Alas, not every independent coffee shop wanted to be part of the Coffee Birmingham movement, including some for whom I frequent on a regular basis (and still do) which was a real shame.
Furthermore, a number of the coffee shops were not as proactive as I thought they would be, and in the week up to the event, I was not clear about what a few of the coffee shops were doing until the day before the event itself! I was also surprised at the negative comments received by certain baristas publicly and privately towards what I was doing to support them – which was ultimately driving traffic for FREE to the coffee shops.
Yet I have been encouraged by all the indies that have supported and wanted to get involved, so building on this, I am starting a new venture called <strong>IndieLove</strong> to build celebrate, showcase and build the profile, not just of independent coffee shops, but of all independents.
Coffee Birmingham will become a part of <strong>IndieLove</strong> and will continue to offer to promote independent coffee shops. <strong>IndieLove</strong> will be far broader – we will still be promoting and flying the flag for indie businesses, but we will also be offering a range of services to help grow and develop independent businesses across the UK.
A new website is to be launched imminently but in the meantime, <em>keep checking back here for all the latest news and information</em>.
<strong>Thanks once again to every person who has continued to support Coffee Birmingham and long live IndieLove!</strong>