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Alexis from PAPER Arts CIC – my business story

“One of our aims at PAPER Arts and Redbrick House is to empower the individual through community, and we feel this idea resonates within the Bristol Pound – that is why we signed up. It encourages everyone to keep it local, creates community, and supports independent businesses to keep on earning a living from doing what they love.”

Welcome back to our “my business story” interview series. In our first instalment of 2019, meet Alexis Butt, Marketing Manager at PAPER Arts CIC and Redbrick House Coworking Space.

PAPER Arts is a social enterprise running a range of free creative enterprise training programmes to empower under-represented young people aged 16-25 to explore a career in the creative sector. They self–fund these programmes by simultaneously running Redbrick House Coworking Space, a building which not only houses their programmes, but which also offers professional workspace and meeting room hire.

Bristol Pound Customers can use their pounds to hire a range of affordable and inspiring meeting/training rooms at Redbrick House. Starting from £10 per hour, all rooms are bookable at short notice, and they can take full or part payment in Bristol Pounds. They are currently offering Bristol Pound members an introductory offer of 50% off any room hire on their first booking. Simply email hello@redbrickhouse.org.uk or phone 07446 646541. 

Hi Alexis! What’s your relationship with Bristol, and what do you love about it?
I live in Totterdown, and enjoy my daily walk along the river to Redbrick House which is situated on Wilder Street, St Paul’s.  You can’t miss us – we have a very colourful front door!

I love Bristol’s independent and community focused nature. Having lived in many places across the world, Bristol is one of those places where people truly care about the environment and the social impact they create.

What I love the most about working for PAPER Arts and Redbrick House is the great sense of community, and how it also gives back. We have a range of freelancers, start-ups and remote workers who thrive on being part of a community of like-minded thinkers, who enjoy being productive as well as sociable. This desire to feel part of a community, rather than just working solo from home, gives back two-fold as it offers the financial support to run free courses to other inspiring young entrepreneurs or freelancers. Many of our professionals also go on to mentor or offer work opportunities to the young people on our courses.

How did the business get going?
Established in 2014, we previously ran PAPER Arts from a shop in the centre of Bristol, but the rent became unaffordable and meant we would be unable to support all our youth programmes. That is when we hatched the plan for a self-funding coworking space. We were luckily enough to find Redbrick House and started to transform this once unused old council building into a creative hub. The central location was perfect, plus it had separate floors that allowed for a range of workspaces. This meant we could create a space that could not only house our youth programmes, but would suit a whole range of coworking members with different needs.

What’s the best thing about running an independent business?
We love the freedom to be able to take the business in any direction we choose, and being able to showcase how a business can work as a social enterprise. But my favourite thing about being an independent business, is that we can create real social impact within our local community.

What are the challenges?
Running two quite different strands of the business can be hard; both our coworking space and our youth programmes attract different audiences and both need just as much support. Also, as a social enterprise any additional money is always ploughed back into our programmes, so it is always a bit of a juggling act.

What made you sign up to accept Bristol Pounds? What do you like about the scheme?
One of our aims at PAPER Arts and Redbrick House is to empower the individual through community, and we feel this idea resonates within the Bristol Pound – that is why we signed up. It encourages everyone to keep it local, creates community, and supports independent businesses to keep on earning a living from doing what they love.

Where do you spend your Bristol Pounds?
We spend our Bristol Pounds on local services provided by other Bristol Pound members from handymen, buying coffee, to even paying our business rates. We believe in keeping it local!

Are Bristol Pound customers different?
Many of our Bristol Pound customers are actually local businesses: often we find small businesses don’t have the space to run a training day or meetings for their staff in-house and so a number of local business use our meeting spaces because they can pay with Bristol Pounds. The difference is that they are really invested in the impact they can have as a business on their local community, and are excited that we support youth within those communities.

What are your five favourite places in Bristol and why?

I really enjoy a little tipple at the Pipe and Slippers [B] because of its really relaxed atmosphere, we often go there for our monthly coworking socials!

I love catching Bristol Community Ferry Boats [B] along the river when I need to get from Temple Meads to somewhere into town. There’s no better way to get from A to B than by water, and you can even use your Bristol Pounds on board.

There is nothing better than catching a film, or just catching up with friends at the Watershed [B]!

I am always buying little creative gifts from CoLab, especially because they were part of PAPER Arts’ original shop in Broadmead.

My two favourite go-to lunch places are The Canteen [B] and Café Kino [B]. Located just around the corner from Redbrick House and with a great range of yummy food, there is nothing better when I need some lunch time inspiration.

Find PAPER Arts and Redbrick House online via the following links:

PAPER Arts: website / Twitter / Instagram / Facebook
Redbrick House:  website / Twitter / Instagram / Facebook

Thank you Alexis!

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