Taking a chance on the insiders delivers to top UK artist Paola Minekov

Out of the blue we received this great example of why people love the INsiders, from charities and professionals, to SME’s, sole traders and leaders of large teams. It’s hard to appreciate how one organisation can support such a diverse range of people with such diverse needs, however this gives you another good example of how our networking, mentoring, training and support helps businesses thrive. Thank you Top UK, London based artist Paola Minekov for this great read. We love it as we love the collaborations it represents!

“Ding! I reached for my phone to check the message. In those long, strange, post covid days, I received way too many Facebook messages and not enough face-to-face coffee invites. Or even phone calls for that matter. 

It was a message from Michaella Brown, a Facebook friend I’d never actually met. We had connected over a topic of mutual interest and messaged a few times. 

And she wanted to tell me about the Insiders, a “nice little network ran by the force of nature that is Mandie Holgate, and full of resources”, costing just £5 a week.

“Why not find out more?”, I said to myself. 

I took a chance and found a connection

Since moving to the UK I have always been on the lookout for new connections and opportunities to grow both personally and professionally. Networking has opened many doors for me, and through the years I’ve been a member of many popular business networks like BNI, Athena and Women in Business…. but they have all been face-to-face. Social media networking was another beast altogether.

Little did I know that one day I would find exactly what I was looking for through this chance encounter on Facebook. 

I was unsure of what I would gain from joining the group, but after having an actual voice chat with Michaella, I decided to take a chance and accept the invitation. And let me tell you, in a world where we communicate predominantly by text, hearing someone’s voice does make a difference. 

The thing about networking, regardless of whether it’s face-to-face or online, is that you get out of it what you put in and it takes time to develop relationships. Yea, ok, it is much easier to build real connections over a cup of coffee, of course… but at the time those face-to-face events still were few and far between.  

For the longest time, I struggled to get involved. If you’re like me, you’re a member of multiple Facebook groups and doom scrolling on FB just isn’t the most productive way to spend your days. However, a year on and the decision to join the Insiders has led to not one but two valuable partnerships.  

The background 

Let’s go back in time to those innocent pre-COVID days. 

At the time, I was running a business network for Bulgarians (yes I know, I actually had a network of my own). And as part of this project my team and I were publishing a glossy bilingual business magazine called Elysium. The mag was my baby project, I stayed up at night to work with the editors (one in the UK and the other one based in France), to make the final design changes and courier the latest issue around the world. 

Paola’s murals and mosaics at the Institute of Education’s Students’ Union

Then, suddenly we were hit with the first unexpected lockdown and also, on a personal level, someone in my family experienced serious health issues – not related to COVID but gravely affected by the correlated lack of services and support. In the meantime, my babysitter left the country for half a year, my team fell apart, and my world kind of collapsed. 

We terminated the networking project and cancelled the 4 international events we were planning in 2020. I transferred Elysium’s trademark to my personal name and we closed the business. I don’t give up easily but on this occasion, I had to prioritise my family. 

Still, I couldn’t kill Elysium. I knew that if I were to relaunch it, I wouldn’t do another printed publication. One of the outcomes of the last few years was that I accepted that things were going to move online. It had been a trend since my early 20s, of course, and as someone with a background in web design (https://digibees.studio/) and multimedia, I knew this better than most. But when we first launched Elysium as a printed luxury magazine, the digital world wasn’t the world I actually wanted to live in. I wanted the smell of paper and to turn pages. It wasn’t meant to be. 

In the first days of 2024, I felt that the time to relaunch Elysium had finally come. 

Elysium Magazine – The new vision

Charlie Kirkham at the NEC Stitches with best selling author Mandie Holgate

So, Elysium was going to be an online publication for creative women and inspired female entrepreneurs (Sorry,  guys! Something had to give…). Another trend I’ve noticed in the last few years is that as women, we are going through an awakening of sorts, a search for meaning, connection and creativity, a life full of beauty and perhaps a bit of mysticism. It’s not been easy being a woman in the 21st century, we’ve had to assume a male role in addition to the traditional female role in an extreme way but I think that’s perhaps why we’ve realised the power of the ancient female wisdom each of us possesses and the need to regain it.

This is when I turned to the Insiders to find my first two authors – Soulla Christodoulou (https://elysium.press/authors/soulla-christodoulou), a best-selling novelist and Mandy Holgate (https://elysium.press/authors/mandie-holgate) herself. 

Both came through and made bringing Elysium back to life a reality!

soulla christodoulou author at INsiders

This is a project which excites women! I have since partnered with 4 more authors and have 2 lovely ladies who have joined the Elysium production team. But you know what, without Mandie and Soulla giving me this first push, I’m not sure I’d have been able to do it. 

I’m practical, I like to plan. This journey has taught me a valuable lesson though. Remember that bit about female wisdom I talked about earlier? In taking a chance and trusting our intuition, we open ourselves up to a world of possibilities. By stepping out of our comfort zones and embracing new opportunities, we can forge connections that not only enhance our personal growth but also propel our professional endeavours forward. 

Creativity, connection, and networking remain the driving forces behind my journey, reminding me every day of the immense power that lies in meeting inspiring people who share our passion.

Because Creativity thrives in Community.

Learn more about Paola’s stunning art here.

And thank you Michaella Brown, our member from Portugal for the recommendation. We appreciate everyone that spreads the word on the INsiders, thank you! Learn more about Michaella’s remove office and marketing services here.

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