WabiSabi is a community of entrepreneurial types based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. We are in the process of designing a new coworking space. We plan to cultivate an atmosphere in which entrepreneurship, focus, connections, learning, serendipity, events and creativity can thrive
Planning permission was granted to a group of international tech entrepreneurs – some of whom have connections to Northern Ireland – last year, for the conversion of Ormeau Baths Gallery into a new coworking space for Belfast.
The space dates from 1888 and was originally a Victorian bath hour. It has room for 100 desks and a cafe.
Having heard that The Foundry had opened their new space in City East on the Newtownards Road, Belfast – right on the edge of the Titanic Quarter – I stopped off after a morning’s training to work for the afternoon on a Sensei client deadline. I had to sort through screenshots, edit and add them to technical documentation for a client. As someone who works from home when possible, I didn’t really have time to travel home first, so it was perfect to have somewhere to plug in and get started on my project as soon as possible.
How to Get There & Parking
When travelling to events at City East, where The Foundry is situated, I often go by train (get off at Titanic Quarter) and walk back down the dual carriageway toward the city (10-minute walk). Yesterday, I took a taxi from the city centre (£4.60).
There is no parking available on site (unless for events after normal office hours), though you could try your chances in the residential streets nearby.
Space and Facilities
The Foundry has everything you might want by way of facilities in a coworking space:
generous-sized kitchen with free tea and coffee (so welcome, as I was dying to grab a cup of tea and dive into my salad box!)
bright, open coworking area with 3-4 banks of desks (one of which is in its own nook and two of which looked like they might enable those who prefer a standing desk), powerpoints and ergonomic chairs
writeable paint on the walls – a brainstormer’s dream
relaxing nook filled with sofas, armchairs and coffee tables
glass-walled meeting rooms (I think I saw two)
multiple small offices cleverly designed with glass walls that open onto the coworking area, meaning light flows from the windows in the outer walls right into the centre
loos thoughtfully complete with hand cream, deodorant and hooks for bags – a mindbogglingly rare feature, but essential for somewhere that caters for the laptop bag-schlepper
If decor’s your thing, the space has an awesome polished(?) or painted concrete floor with the uber-cool unfinished look. It went well with the bright paintwork, modern desks and exposed ceiling services.
While I was there (3.5 hours), I meet at least three people who had taken an office: a Lean-In coordinator, a digital marketing professional and a couple of others who said hi. It was cool that almost everyone made an effort to come over and say hello. It’s great to have lovely facilities, but to be honest, the people make the space. (I’ve been to several fairly nice spaces where I had to employ a crowbar to extract anything beyond a fleeting nod from the residents.)
I even met a few friendly builders, who were installing some lighting while I was there, though the facilities looked completely finished to me. And, the staff who welcomed me from the front door, one of whom stayed late so that I could stay until my lift arrived, were especially cordial.
I’m not sure how long it lasts, but my visit fell under the category of a trial (free). Otherwise, prices are as follows:
Desk hire: £5 + VAT per hour
Desk hire: £25 + VAT per day
24/7 access: £130 + VAT
While it seems like a drop-in (as I did) type of place, I’d recommend you call beforehand to ensure there’s a free desk.
On the 22 March we will enjoy the second collaboratative effort between WabiSabi and Bleary Business and Community Center, Craigavon. Like the first, it will take the form of a Coworking Day, run for the benefit of local business and interested entrepreneurs.
Speaking of which, we’ve made a small difference to our WabiSabi Coworking Days that are proving a big hit. The inclusion of two, short talks in the day, around a common theme, have helped us focus our questions, mutual problem-solving and conversations.
On 22 Feb our Coworking Day theme was sales, and we enjoyed two excellent talks from Christine Hammond from CJH Training and Moira Ní Ghallachóir from MNG.
On 22 March, creativity is the theme. Speakers this time are Yvonne Smyth from Flourish nad Marianne Kennerley from B00m! Studios.
Submit a Pitch
We want anyone interested in speaking at out Bleary event to submit a speaking pitch on the subject of creativity, particular how to be creative at work. (This has now closed.)
We want to make it clear that by ‘creative’ we DO NOT only include those in the so-called creative industries or who consider themselves artists and makers. There are many myths about creativity, and we define creatives as “those who make things happen“!
Maybe, like me, you read Death of Salesman at school. It’s about an ageing salesman who is down on his luck, gets fired, messes up all his relationships, and tragically takes his own life, so his son can pick up the insurance money. This was my first exposure to selling. And it was all downhill from there.
Selling has a bad rep. We see signs that say, ‘No Selling Here’. To “sell out” means to betray. To “sell yourself” means to degrade. If we think someone is trying to trick us, we ask, “So, what are you selling, then?”.
Do You Hate Selling?
Many business owners in the creative industries love what they do… but hate having to pitch their product or persuade others to buy from them. Some find it embarrassing; others feel it is downright degrading. In this country, I suspect we associate selling with slick, extreme extrovert, showy-offy behaviour.
New creative industries start-ups can easily make a few, rookie mistakes when it comes to selling:
There’s a belief that selling is unnecessary since customers will automatically come calling to you
Some creative types feel that selling makes them somehow sell-out on their creativity
Finally, some hold the belief that selling is a magic spell, cast by a gifted few, using highly-advanced, secret techniques
Learn All About Selling at our Belfast Coworking Day on 22 February
As well as the usual opportunities to network and experience coworking, we will have Sales professionals there to help you demystify the sales process, and learn how to refine your sales skills.
SPEAKER: Christine Hammond, CJH Training
“Start Right and Grow”
Our first speaker spent over twenty years as a Financial Services professional both within leading organisations and her own practice. She is the founder of CJH Training and specialises in skills and strategy for consultative selling. Delivery is aimed at the needs of start-ups, early stage entrepreneurs and service-based businesses, via online courses, workshops and mentoring sessions.
Successful, ethical selling doesn’t happen by accident but requires a powerful strategy that can be relied on time and time again. This short talk introduces the power of the Sales Cycle and how it can be used effectively to develop client relationships and increase revenue.
SPEAKER: Moira Ní Ghallachóir, MNG“5 Ways to Inspire Your Way to More Clients, Customers and Profits – Without Being Salesy”
Our second speaker is an international business and sales coach. Moira comes from the Gaeltacht region of Donegal, she helps small business owners and entrepreneurs who hate sales – inspire their way to more clients, customers and profits without being salesy through business coaching and intensive business retreats.
I strongly recommend Daniel Pink’s To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others. It’s the best book I’ve read on selling. There’s a great 5 minute summary of the book here and a 10 minute summary here.