Soft launching again and again, until a space of our own is found…

I have been getting really good at living with frustration since the journey of A&W started. Finding a space for a café in London is quite a challenge, especially if it’s your first business, and you don’t have the kind of disposable budget that Starbucks and Costa do! Especially if the business is a feminist café…

But thanks to that, I have discovered that prolonged frustration can be a good motivating factor! Particularly, if you’re determined enough that something IS going to happen!

Obviously, something’s got to give, sometimes. And so I gave up on the idea that I would have my SPACE for the feminist café within 3 months – as was initially the plan in my head. It’ll probably take longer, in fact, it already has. Much longer.

But that is not reason to give up. Nobody said it was going to be easy. In fact, just the opposite! I just didn’t want to hear it at the beginning…

Despite my initial insistence on sticking to, what seemed to be at the time, THE plan, I also had to eventually admit that it would be smart to soft launch the café idea, before everybody gives up on me, thinking that I had given up! I haven’t! It’s just taken longer than I anticipated…

And so soft-launch it was. Despite my prolonged mental effort against the idea. And, in fact, it was fun! We first started in Brick Lane’s Backyard market at the beginning of this year. Now it’s on to something a bit more local – we’re going to be at the Leytonstone market @ St John’s on the third Saturday in June. With some fresh ideas. Come and say hi if you want to know more about the new secret Angels & Witches ingredient!

As it turns out, sometimes doing something like that – a thing that your brain has been negatively geared towards for a very long time – before actually doing it – can be quite a good thing! Educational for sure. I have learned a lot when testing my idea in front of people. Who would have thought, right?!

Having the stall in Brick Lane was an amazing feedback opportunity. I got quite excited about people’s reactions to my stall. People were positively intrigued by all the different aspects of it – the logo, the motto and the veg muffins! I actually thought, by the end of the first day, that I should have had a hidden camera with me – the expressions on people’s faces when they saw the beet muffin were priceless! Although I doubt that would have been completely in line with my ethical café stance… Nevertheless, it was useful to have that experience. And it warmed my heart to see people smile brightly at the sight of my stall!

Now on the next stage. Leytonstone market should be quite interesting too. And in a different way, because it is much less trendy than Brick Lane, and much more local. Let’s hope that the reactions are just as positive. Fingers crossed!

I do have to admit that the space problem still bothers me, since I am yet to find a solution! Especially since I’ve been involved in the Feminist Library project and the Reclaim Holloway one too, and I know just how precious those feminist spaces are, and how rare… Still – even more reason to keep on pressing on with the idea!

As difficult as it has been to pin down anything resembling a reasonable price, in terms of a space for the café in London, I have not given up hope, and I keep on trying new, inventive ways of getting around the issue. in fact, a space – proper feminist café space – might be closer within my reach than I think these days, after so many failed attempts. After all, aren’t we always just one good idea away from succeeding in whatever it is that we’re trying to do?! Although the jury is still out on this one right at this moment.

I am currently getting more and more pulled in into the world of architecture, which is new and exciting to me. Feminist architecture, obviously!

When I first found out about the concept of live community architecture from this feminist architects collective, I was ecstatic! Perfect, I thought! Finally something that’s going to solve this massive missing building issue for me! I am yet to find out a route into the architectural world that will help me answer the question of whether that is actually the case.

But at least, at last, hope has been restored!

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