A Vegan Christmas Dinner + Thoughts On The True Value Of Collaboration

Over the weekend Showroom hosted a Christmas dinner for a small network of women who, over the last year, have become interconnected through friendship, likeminded support, and collaborating in business.

I wasn't sure if I'd write about this dinner on my blog or social media, but I want to share these photos and some thoughts for a couple of reasons. First, just look at that cake! Mitch and the Gramercy catering team did such an incredible job creating our fully vegan feast that I couldn't keep their skills to myself. The food was beautiful and delicious and we all felt so good after the meal... Plus the leftovers were pure magic.

In the afterglow of our dinner I got to thinking about how collaboration has truly become the lifeblood of my business, and how much my relationships with people running their own brands have bolstered me this year. 

I truly believe that the rising tide lifts all ships. To me that means that success is not finite and that among businesses striving to operate in authentic, responsive ways there's plenty to go round. Based on this premise my overarching strategy at The Spring Collective in 2015 was simple: Be aesthetically crisp and clear. Deliver the most connective and inspiring customer experience by taking the best trends from the digital world and amplifying them in the real world. Be collaborative on every level.    

Luckily, on the collaboration front, I've been far from alone. Rather than jealously guarding information to gain competitive advantage, the generosity with which the young business owners I've met this year operate has made life in the start up lane infinitely more efficient and so much more fun. From lending an ear when things feel too hard to handle to sharing tips on reducing shipping costs, help finding amazing staff, and getting the inside scoop on grants and awards, I certainly credit the level of success with which my life and my business are currently running to the help I've given and received from the entrepreneurs in my ever widening circle. 

And it's not just the business owners who benefit. As customers navigating the overwhelming terrain of an international real world + digital marketplace of almost unlimited choices, the thing we need in order to make good consumer choices that feel easy and uplifting (not tedious and stressful) is trust in the sellers and service providers we patronise. In humans, the building of trust depends on a critical mass of oxytocin being reached in the brain... And oxytocin just happens to be the collaboration chemical.

It's the thing that makes us feel bonded to others and without it we feel alone and vulnerable. Oxytocin is stimulated through human-to-human interaction. But we can do our best to replicate this online by showing ourselves and our interactions with collaborators at the centre of our businesses.

Social media is a great tool for building this for this if we authentically communicate who we are and what we believe on our platforms. Posting about what our collaborators are doing or jointly coming up with new products to sell isn't just about 'cross promotion', getting more followers and hawking more stuff. Rather, the purpose of publicly collaborating in the real world and online is to let customers in on the wholehearted way in which you and your business pals interact. That's where customers' trust is built - in that open space where social proof of integrity and generosity of spirit exist, where those looking on are taught to expect how your business will treat them too. 

** A big thanks to Lani for organising our Collaborators Christmas Dinner! xo Catherine