Get to know the EETG Cultural Group!
Blog by EETG Marketing Assistant Mia Johnson and EETG Cultural Group Facilitator Henrietta Cyrille.
About the EETG Cultural Group
The cultural group is a collective of black and ethnic minority creatives. Formed by Guild members in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic it allowed us to build a community of support through a difficult period for many small businesses. The group was formed after the Guild participated in Black Pound Day. Following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, Black Pound Day was created by Swiss from So Solid Crew, to address “the economic inequalities and imbalances affecting Black businesses and entrepreneurs in the UK and global diasporic communities”. The EETG celebrates Black Pound Day and took it to the popular Old Spitalfields Market to trade and spread awareness of the black and ethnic minority entrepreneurs that are part of our community. This led to the formation of the Cultural Group, which is still going strong nearly three years later.
Citizens UK & EETG Training
Not only does the Cultural Group focus on business exposure and trading, but also on collaboration, which has been and continues to be one of our key values. Attending the training led by Citizen UK & EETG staff has been a cornerstone of understanding how to form deeper relationships with members and grow a strong community within East London.
2022 was all about developing our 1:1 conversations; where all traders had the opportunity to communicate and network within the cultural group. The aim was to learn more about each other; what motivated us; our business and to clearly outline our needs. This helped form closer relationships within the group, building a strong sense of community. The training has also helped members begin to identify and utilise each other’s skills, experience and expertise e.g. marketing, photography or social media.
We learned that when you have a better understanding of what someone needs and what people’s skills are within a team, it makes it so much easier to help and support that really works and is tailored to that business. Our intention is to become successful and sustainable businesses and in order to achieve this we have made a sharing and collaborating approach our priority and ethos, aimed at creating an internal network that can be a source of help within East London rather than outsourcing to organisations who do not share the same community values and ethos.
Cultural Group Achievements
Trading at Old Spitalfields Market in East London was one of our first achievements. We traded from 2020 to 2022 right in the midst of the pandemic. This trading platform was perfect for group members, to expand our business and increase brand awareness. Although this market opportunity was great for traders, the increasing costs and lack of funding led us to look for alternative places to trade. After a long search, we were able to open our first independent monthly market at Space Studios, Mare Street, in Hackney in 2022 and are looking to reopen in the Spring of 2023.
Our second achievement for 2022 is a point that was raised in the Citizens UK training which is that “turnout is 90% of any action”. The Cultural Group is proud to say that they have been able to maintain our productivity and improve the Cultural Group, by holding consistent bi-weekly meetings to help us stay on track and hold ourselves accountable. In these meetings, we have been able to offer support and guidance, deal with urgent issues and get to know each other better. These meetings have been essential in helping us maintain and strengthen our business relationships within the group.
We are a small group, who have our own businesses, some of us have two jobs, and families but by making our meetings a priority, we were able to plan and organise both the Libreria Winter Market and the EETG local community market and there is no way this would have happened with ad hoc meetings.
Our third achievement was a difficult one as like so many other businesses our finances are stretched; do we go for the cheapest option or do we support other businesses? Relationship building and providing mutual support are far more important so we choose to buy services in-house within the Guild. Our creative banners and flyers which were used at markets and events were supplied by Newmans Stationery. Qusai Jafferji was great as he suggested design and colour ideas, was extremely patient but also gave us a fair deal, in return, we wrote a Google review for them. Newmans Stationery is a founding member of the Guild and is located in Bethnal Green, check out their social Instagram here and give them a follow – @newmansstationery.
Our final achievement for 2022 the year and probably the most intense and stressful, was the Libreria Winter Popup Market which was a resounding success! Although we had a very short window to get this event up and running, everyone was pleased with how the team was able to pull it all together in such a short space of time. The event, which took place from Dec 1st to Dec 17th at the Libreria Bookstore, 65 Hanbury Street, was well-attended and featured a wide variety of local vendors selling everything from handmade jewellery and crafts to chocolates and hot sauces.
The Cultural Group would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the Libreria staff for making them feel welcome and for their support in crafting the basement into a wonderful Christmas Grotto. And to Second Home for the opportunity to host the Winter Popup in collaboration with East End Trades Guild Cultural Group. We also want to show our appreciation to all of the vendors who participated at very short notice too and finally, thank you to all the Libreria customers who braved the cold and the stairs to the basement to show support. We are looking forward to hosting another market at Libreria this summer and hope to see you all there!
Yes, the last 3 years have been a whirlwind, but despite the challenges, those members that have stayed with us, have worked together to move us in new directions. Unfortunately, one of those changes meant leaving our old home at Spitalfields Market – but there were many upsides to this change. We are now able to expand in ways that weren’t possible before; from launching our own independent market to forming collaborations with other organisations and building stronger relationships with our local communities. With this newfound responsibility and ownership of our agenda, there has been an increase in the passion for what we do, an excitement for what we can build and the drive to make it happen.