Cathy and I first met around 18 months ago at a local business networking event and seemed to bump into each other at similar events over the next few months. As we got to know each other, we realised we shared similar values and interests; in fact, when Cathy realised I ran The Athena Network in her area, she was quick to visit and become a much valued member.
We arranged to meet up to talk about our businesses in more depth and to discuss potential collaborative initiatives; it was at this meeting in February 2017 that Cathy talked about her visit to Ramana’s Garden and the deep impact it had on her. (Read Cathy’s story here).
Cathy’s story affected me deeply – and the two of us starting to generate some ideas of how we could work together to raise much needed funds, as well as giving practical help to Ramana’s Garden.
Here is my story of how The Whole Woman Conference has developed and grown so far:
Planting the Seeds…
Cathy and I discussed all sorts of ideas including the usual raffle, auction, coffee morning – and then had the idea of providing a confidence workshop for women where all proceeds would be donated to Ramana’s Garden. We even started planning the workshop together, looking at dates, venues, tickets… and then, we had a spark of inspiration!
In The Athena Network and other networking groups we belong to, we are surrounded by talented businesswomen with a whole host of skills. As the ideas flew, we both said almost in the same breath:
“We could organise a whole day! A Conference! To celebrate all aspects of womanhood!”
And so the initial seeds for The Whole Woman Conference were planted.
We started to plan out what our Conference could look like. What we were both excited about was the combination of providing a special day for women, focusing on educating, upskilling, inspiring for all women at all stages of their lives, and at the same time raising awareness and funds to help Ramana’s Garden.
The name for The Whole Woman Conference came from our aim to encompass the whole woman. The Conference aims to upskill women at all stages in their careers and lives. We wanted to make sure we had workshops, keynote speakers and activities during the day that would open discussion and that at the end of the day, delegates would leave inspired. This Conference is for ALL women at ALL stages of their lives and careers.
We knew we needed help to get it going and so invited businesswomen who we knew would be interested in being involved to join us one evening whilst we outlined our ideas. This conversation sparked even more ideas and we gained commitment from those who had attended to be involved.
The next step was to find the venue. One of our networking contacts is a venue finder and she did all our research, negotiations, weeding out the venues we liked but were too small, too expensive, too corporate.
Why Warbrook House?
Cathy and I were looking for somewhere that would give our delegates a special day out, where they could relax in a beautiful environment and as far away from corporate conferences as possible. The venue needed to be big enough to accommodate 120 people comfortably and have plenty of breakout rooms for our planned workshops. We also wanted to give our delegates a truly good lunch (not just plates of sandwiches and stodge) and plentiful free parking on site. Warbook House ticked the box on all aspects and we have exclusive use of the house all day.
What clinched it for us was the ‘feel’ we got when we walked into the hotel – it is so welcoming, light, airy and feels right for the type of event we are holding.
As our plans for the Conference developed, we started to put the feelers out for workshop facilitators and created our Facebook Page. In May, we advertised for facilitators, created our Ticket Booking page with Eventbrite and paid our deposit for Warbrook House.
Suddenly, everything became real – we had a date, a venue, tickets were on sale and in June, we finalised our workshops. We had such a fantastic response, with 72 applicants for workshops and only space for 8. It was such a hard decision and we truly believe that the diversity of workshops we have selected will provide plenty of choice for our participants on the day.
The more we talked about the Conference and about why we are doing it, we found that people, both women and men, were so affected by Cathy’s story that we started to receive offers of practical help and skills free of charge. This includes our logo design, website design and hosting, advertising, venue finding, admin, workshop facilitators, keynote speakers, Market Place stalls. Every person contributing to this Conference is doing so free of charge and are purchasing their own tickets to be part of the day. Read more about our Contributors.
These people have helped our Conference to blossom and we will be forever grateful for your generosity. It means that even more of the funds we raise can be donated to Ramanas Garden.
We have Market Place stalls available for booking now – these are for you to exhibit and sell your range of gifts and products. Your Market Place ticket will include full access to the Conference, lunch, refreshments for one stallholder.
The fruits of The Whole Woman Conference will be the proceeds from the event itself, and the packs of cotton knickers that will be donated directly to Ramanas Garden. As you will see from Cathy’s story, she is personally taking all the proceeds and knickers to Ramanas Garden on her next visit.
To help make this an even more fruitful event, we are offering sponsorship opportunities for businesses. Read more about Sponsorship Packages here.
How can you help?
- Join us on the day! Early Bird Tickets are available until 15th September
- Purchase a Conference ticket for a friend or for a group
- Like and Share our Facebook Page with your friends
- Become a Sponsor
Contact Linda and Cathy to discuss MarketPlace bookings and Sponsorship Opportunities