TopicUK March 2016 Soho Edition

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SOHO Tim Arnold

SAVESOHO Music through the decades Business Finance Time to go alternative Internet Nightmares Solved in Soho What makes a great Soho Restaurant? We asked Pasha Kovalev

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SO WHAT EXACTLY IS BIG DATA? Mike Fish BigData4Analytics

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Editors Notes I have always loved Soho. In a city as large as London it can be difficult to find a place with its own distinct style and sense of community, but Soho manages just that.

Internet or the extortionate charge for rubbish bags and recycling!

Whatever the day of the week there is always a buzz, a famous face to spot or a good restaurant or bar to try out but, most importantly, Soho is home to some extraordinary businesses that are hugely influential across the world.

Our first cover star is Tim Arnold, the champion of the Save Soho Campaign. We look beyond the dramatic media headlines to the real story of the campaign that has been successful in changing the attitudes of planners and landlords in the area. Tim made the powerful observation that Soho is the business incubator of the British music industry.

That’s why I wanted to be involved in TopicUK as the local business magazine launches in Soho. We aim to create a platform for Soho businesses to learn about each other, the area they work in and the challenges Soho businesses face.

We have also kicked off with what we hope will be a regular feature ‘My favourite spot in Soho’. This month we were lucky to spend some time with Strictly Come Dancing’s Pasha Kovalev, who took us to his favourite spot in Soho.

As a Soho business owner myself I can relate to many of these challenges. It brings me comfort and sanity to know that I am not the only person facing the challenge of poor

We hope that you find the magazine both useful and entertaining. Anne Cantelo Editor


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The trouble with Soho’s internet Why does the undisputed capital of the UK’s creative industry suffer so badly from slow internet? And what can you do about it if you’re one of the businesses that have suffered from the many outages over the last year?

Why does the undisputed capital of the UK’s creative industry suffer so badly from slow internet? And what can you do about it if you’re one of the businesses that have suffered from the many outages over the last year? By Andy Hinxman, Founder and Director of Keybridge IT Solutions

As you probably know, Soho is a diverse hub of businesses, but there is famously a concentration of media companies, from production to advertising and PR agencies. These types of businesses rely on strong internet connection to download and work on large files of media. Downloading large files consumes bandwidth, and for most, on a shared connection, one large download can affect all users and result in drops in speeds. As Soho has a limited number of residential properties, telecoms providers do not believe it is economically viable to install fibre lines as they won’t receive the payback they would get in a more residential area. However, Soho is going through a lot of property development and one positive result of this is that these projects increase


the demand for good internet so there is hope on the horizon. However if, like most businesses in the area, the problem is more pressing, the answer is to install a fibre line yourself. The difference between sharing a 4MB connection to a dedicated 25MB Fibre line is huge. You will have a reliable, faster line and stress levels in the office will drop. You will never again have to tell a client that you can’t finish their work as you have no internet. The cost of installation can be covered by the BDUK Government Voucher Scheme which is available to help SMEs and it is very simple to apply for it. Of course there are challenges. Although fibre is becoming more commonplace, and it increases the value of a property to have it installed, some landlords are using it as an opportunity to exploit businesses. Landlords will often charge to amend the lease of a property to allow for the minor damage that the installation can cause and can even demand their own surveyors are present.

We have one customer in Wardour Street who was asked for £3,000 (plus VAT) to cover surveyor and lawyer costs as BT would need to drill two holes in their internal walls to install the line. For SMEs that is not an insignificant amount. Landlords may also require ‘site specific RAMs’, which means your Internet Service Provider (ISP) has to provide proof and photographic evidence of exactly where in the building they will be implementing the line. This can result in further costs as ISP engineers have

to arrange a further visit to carry this out and can charge on a per hour basis. However, most sensible landlords should be happy with ‘general RAMs’ to show where any damage may incur. Before you start anything check whether you have a landlord that understands the benefits of installing fibre and doesn’t see it as a way of making money. Soho is a fast growing area that relies on the strength of internet connectivity. Hopefully with the introduction of the BDUK Government Scheme and the

accessibility to fibre now becoming easier, many Soho businesses will benefit and we will no longer hear the screams of frustration as the internet drops at 95% download complete! If you need our help with this or managing your IT then get in touch. We are already helping businesses in the area.




Establishing a business in Soho By Colin Crerar, Director of City Virtual Hub

There are many places, particularly around London, that are trying to promote themselves as the ‘trendy’ places to establish creative businesses. They will boast of one or two famous names as evidence of that. But there is one place in London that doesn’t take part in that game – Soho. It simply doesn’t need to. When I walk down a Soho street it is unusual not to bump into at least one celebrity; it is so common that I don’t even mention it to anyone any more unless it is a particular favourite of mine. And I can’t leave the office without passing numerous world-famous creative companies that make me smile at the boasts of these other areas. Soho doesn’t need to promote itself as the creative hub of the UK, because that is self-evident. Like all industry clusters there are benefits to companies in complementary sectors working closely together. A Soho address lends authority and credibility to creative companies in the same way that Harley Street and Saville Row are THE places to be for doctors and tailors. Soho companies can and do charge more, and many clients will pay a premium to employ a Soho creative company. Of course an address doesn’t guarantee quality but Soho has such a reputation that creative talent from across the UK, and even Europe, flocks to the area so that the companies here have the choice of the best staff. This competition quickly pushes


up standards. Soho’s creative companies lead where others will eventually follow.

to change your official address regularly, which doesn’t look good with clients.

Many companies start out in Soho in serviced offices. More practical perhaps than a leasehold option if you plan to grow or mostly contract over the next 18 months, but they can be very expensive especially if you’re a young business.

If you need a Soho address, but expect to work from home most of the time, or know you will need to move frequently; it is well worth considering a virtual office address.

If you do go for serviced offices, check on the additional costs. The rent may be affordable, but you also need to take account of the often ‘optional’ extras, like useable broadband, phones & meeting rooms, which quickly add up. You can expect to pay around £45 per hour for a meeting room for four people (without tea and biscuits), so it is often cheaper to take clients out for lunch. The relationship is flexible both ways - you can be thrown out with a month’s notice, and you will probably find that you have

City Virtual Hub Soho runs a virtual office in partnership with the Union Club on Greek Street. For less than the cost of an hour in a meeting room (per month), your business could have a prime Greek Street address. We find that it is particularly useful for start-ups and film production companies who may already have an office in Soho but expect to have to move regularly due to changing staff numbers. It can be equally useful for those who are just starting out and want to add some credibility and weight behind their new brand, but don’t quite have a need for a full office yet.




Recruiting your way to success in Soho By Simon Conington, MD of recruitment specialists BPS World. Simon is also on the board of the REC Council

There aren’t a lot of factories in Soho so if you’re reading this you probably sell a service rather than a widget. And even if you work in a creative ‘factory’ the product you produce will succeed or fail on the skills of the people you attract to work for you. How do you recruit and retain the best?

and, particularly in the creative industries, salary is not the number one thing that will attract good employees.

Soho businesses have a big advantage over other areas of the country, the best do want to come and work here. You will attract talent just by your address but of course you are also in competition with other businesses in the area.

The salary you offer has to be competitive for the job, the industry and for Soho but it should also be tailored to the talent of the person. You then need to ensure that your salary levels stay competitive and you reward the skills and experience gained, or others will poach your best people.

Offering more money than they do is not the answer, it could make your pricing uncompetitive


You want people who are motivated by being part of a great team, not by money. It is also a bad idea to poach staff with high salary offers. Bribing people to join you will drive up salaries across the industry and creates high staff turnover.

The most talented people have their pick of employers and, just as you will look beyond CVs when recruiting, they will check you out to see just what sort of employer you’re likely to be and what impact

working for you will have on their career. What will potential employees find when they Google you? Have they checked you out on Glassdoor? What do your social media channels say about you? What do your premises say about you? Dull, messy and unimaginative or buzzing and creative? Have a look around with fresh eyes.

It is also worth bringing in skills through recruitment. The companies that only promote from within don’t benefit from any challenges to their culture. They don’t get the chance to learn how others do things and they only have the experience of their own work. A recruit from a company with a prestigious brand will bring with them some of that credibility.

The key to retaining good people is to ensure that they feel valued. An important aspect of that is helping them to develop their skills. If they can’t develop their skills with you they’ll go elsewhere, or worse they’ll stay with you and their skills will go out of date.

The secret to recruiting and retaining the right people for your business is to put as much thought into it as you do to winning and retaining customers. Having a great brand is the key to both.




Business Finance

Time to go alternative By Tony Morgan, CEO of Verus360, the pay-as-you-use business finance solution for SMEs

February and March can be gloomy. It’s cold, dark and the mountain of credit card bills are a harsh reminder of overspending. Of course, we all know that borrowing money on credit cards is expensive, but more shocking is the fact that one in four businesses rely on their credit cards for cash flow funding despite the costly rates. 12

Other business owners will ask their bank for a loan, but if they can’t get funding they simply give up – and often stall their plans to expand or recruit. Yet alternative sources of funding (AltFi) are often more cost-effective than many types of traditional finance – and, if you choose the right options, can fit the bill for both short- and long-term funding. If you can calculate the true cost of your existing finance and navigate your way around

the alternative finance options – from crowdfunding to venture capital – you could find the funding you need to help your business grow

Alternative finance: a good fit for digital and creative agencies

A 2015 YouGov poll, commissioned by Verus360, revealed that only one in ten of the SMEs surveyed were currently benefiting from alternative finance options. Many AltFi providers operate primarily online, so unsurprisingly, the technology-literate IT, media and telecoms sectors were most likely to make use of it, but AltFi is now a realistic mainstream option for many small- to medium-sized businesses. It is also a big hit with digital and creative agencies, which often struggle to borrow through conventional lenders because they lack tangible assets – such as machinery and plant – to borrow against. But before you even consider borrowing money for your business – from your bank or an alternative finance provider – look closely at the cost of the options available and check for any hidden charges.

Do you know how much your business finance really costs? Our research has shown that 40% of UK businesses are unsure exactly how much they are paying for finance, and 30% were not convinced that the costs were transparent. The headline rate may be great – but the true cost may be much higher. Typically total costs include: • Penalties if you go over your agreed limit – even for a day • A non-utilisation fee if you don’t use the loan • An admin fee to set up the facility • An annual fee to review it, and an exit fee if you leave.

Tony-Morgan You also need to count the cost of the time it takes to set up and run traditional facilities. Many AltFi providers, like Verus360, run online, so don’t demand reams of paperwork, or long-term commitments. We set up Verus360 to take the pain out of business borrowing. If you have at least 12 months trading data, and use one of the popular online accounting packages such as Sage, QuickBooks or Xero, you can apply for funding quickly and easily at We use sophisticated technology to securely access and analyse financial

data about your business. The whole application process can take well under an hour, and the funds can often be in your account in a few days. Interest rates start from 8% APR and there are no hidden costs – just one transparent interest rate. Our clients, which include digital agencies and business consultancies, have told us that it’s transformed their liquidity and saved them thousands of pounds in fees. Make 2016 the year to dip your toe in the alternative finance waters – and kick-start your business growth.



Crowds in Soho BusinessAdvice

Crowdfunding is one of the most exciting developments in the world of alternative financing in recent years. With over $1billion raised using crowdfunding platforms, it is a really effective tool when correctly used. Soho based companies have been quick to see the opportunities and have set records for the most money raised in this way.

It’s a pretty simple concept – if you’re looking to raise capital towards a project, or funding for expansion, then you advertise on a crowdfunding platform and take small investments from a large number of interested investors, called the crowd. is done online Ruz Chishty Everything and there is a fee to pay Founder, for the service, which is thebusinesspitch typically a percentage of which is a the total amount raised.

boutique advisor on startups, investment and international expansion. For further information, contact me on ruzy@ thebusinesspitch. eu or follow me on @rchishty 14

Rushmore Group (that owns the ‘Player’ in Soho), raised £1M with crowdfunding, and at the time this was the most ever raised. The Soho based razor and shaving tool suppliers Cornerstone, raised over £875K from 229 investors through crowdfunding. But it was BrewDog that shattered all records by raising £10M through offering shares in their craft beer company.

Sound too easy? Not all crowdfunding platforms are equal. Some are heavily regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to protect the investor whilst others are focused at community projects to take advantage of charitable contributions. Some are designed to raise funds in exchange for equity in the business and others are used to raise funds for future products or services (pre-orders). The advantages for businesses go beyond raising money: even if people don’t invest in your project, you are promoting and growing your potential customer base. Crowdfunding is also a great tool for researching the market for future endeavours.

The common factors across all crowdfunding platforms is that they all take a fee, you will be given a set period of time and have strict rules to follow.

Is that it? You will need to support your campaign. This means investing time and energy into marketing. Choose the wrong strategy and you can quickly lose valuable time. Raise too little and potential investors will simply ignore you. So planning is essential to your success.

Which Crowdfunding platform should you choose? The UK has been leading crowdfunding since the start and there are over 30 platforms available to you. The key to choosing is the number of active investors on any one site and what exactly you want to achieve. The following outlines the top 4 platforms – it’s not an exhaustive list but enough to get you started.

Platform Type

ComFunding Fees munity





Upfront +%

Crowdcube. com





Upfront +%


Pre-order/ Project


Kickstarter. com


Creative Global

Pre-order/ Project







KickStarter Tech



Crowdfunding is a fantastic alternative to loans and individual investors. It is a great way of gaining new exposure and new potential customers. But it does require care, a great marketing strategy and heavy promotion to succeed.



Feature By JT (MD) and Phil Tidy (Exec Producer) @ content studio, Squire

Why brands are the saviours of music and Soho film creativity It’s well known that digital has created many new challenges for the music industry; some of them ruinous, some of them creatively and financially fruitful.

are now so low that they are mostly produced for love, not money – a way for newcomers to experiment with the cutting edge of creativity and technology. Wealth

From the arrival of iTunes to, more recently, the challenges brought about by an increasing array of streaming services like Spotify through to newer launches such as Tidal, Beats and Deezer, record labels can no longer safely rely on record sales for their revenue streams. Merchandising and live performances are now more likely to bring in the bucks. Not to mention, brand partnerships. Successful When brands partner with musicians, the connection should run far deeper than mere sponsorship. Simple sponsorship is the lazy way to create brand music partnerships and it provides only minimal benefit to the brand through superficial association; so superficial that savvy consumers often see it as a shameless and somewhat desperate attempt at borrowing kudos. So these days, the successful brandartist partnership model is a far more sophisticated – and complex – beast than simply slapping a brand logo onto a


gig’s promotional material. Videos From Aldi launching a music streaming service, to Burberry launching an Apple Music channel and KFC creating a music video for rappers Chip, Kano and Wretch 32; brands are looking for deeper and tighter ways to integrate with the music industry. The crossover between brands, advertising and music is becoming so enmeshed that ad agency BECT recently announced it’s starting a record label with Polydor. And brands are even being advised by the marketer’s bible – Marketing Week – to i romo’ as it’s known in the industry). Many Hollywood directors cut their teeth in film directing by first helming music videos in the backstreets of Soho. But as the music industry took a hit from digital formats, so did the promo. Creativity Even though the demand for music videos is as high as ever (thank you YouTube!), budgets

Fortunately the trend for the music and marketing industries to jump into bed together is giving Soho’s wealth of promo talent a new avenue to explore: branded music content. For a brand to communicate its music partnership in a subtle way that doesn’t come across as a desperate attempt to jump on the coattails of the latest musical sensation, it needs some clever branded content; something that fits seamlessly into the editorial world around it. This content can take many cunningly shape-shifting forms. Saviour From the aforementioned product placement in music videos to the more long term and carefully calculated approach of curating a branded broadcast series of music documentaries (like the project we’re currently undertaking for a famous energy drink brand), could branded music content be not just the saviour of the music industry, but also of Soho’s rich history in filmic creativity?





has been saved… but only for now

One year ago it seemed that Soho was about to be destroyed as small independent businesses and historic music venues were being forced out by the developers. The Save Soho Campaign received national attention, with the media using dramatic headlines to predict the end of Soho as we know it. What is the latest position? TopicUK talked to singer-songwriter Tim Arnold, a Soho native (his grandfather was actor manager for Paul Raymind) and the power house behind the Save Soho Campaign, to find out. Tim pulled in his friends Stephen Fry and Benedict Cumberbatch to throw the spotlight on the Campaign but it has been Tim who has been driving the action. The Save Soho Campaign was set up in response to a growing problem that came to a head one night in the autumn of 2014 when Madame Jojo’s was closed suddenly after trouble between bouncers and a customer. Many believed that the fracas was an excuse to close the club so that Soho Estates could redevelop the area. When I sat down with Tim I was expecting

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him to be full of vitriol for Soho Estates and the politicians. These were the people that the media had excitedly reported were locked in a head to head conflict with him. Instead the story of the Save Soho campaign is one of a reasoned, well constructed argument that has won over people and organisations who have since made historic changes. These changes will affect Soho businesses, the UK economy and musicians, hopefully for generations to come. Tim painted a vivid picture to explain the problem. You have bought an idyllic cottage in Cornwall, over looking a busy fishing port. You wake up the first morning and decide that the view is great but you really don’t like the smell of fish. Should you have the right to force all the fishermen out of business? Well until recently that was the situation in Soho. If you built a new apartment block next to an historic music venue you could demand that the music venue pays for and puts in sound proofing, effectively closing these small but influential venues.

“You wake up the first morning and decide that the view is great but you really don’t like the smell of fish. Should you have the right to force all the fishermen out of business?”




Tim has been so successful in making this business case that a year on he has everyone on side. He told me: “There are no baddies in this story. The Mayor of London is very supportive and I consider Soho Estates to be one of the best landlords in Soho. We simply needed to sit down and talk to solve this problem and ensure everyone understood the impact of certain actions.” Tim acknowledges the hard work of many others, most notably Mark Davyd of The Music Venue Trust. Thanks to his efforts in October 2015 the Greater London Authority published a report; London’s Grassroots Music Venues – A Rescue Plan that has been hailed as a victory for the Campaign. Even the planners have changed their policy to “Agent of Change” which effectively means that if you build a flat next to a music venue it is up to you to pay for sound proofing. Even Madame Jojo’s will be reopening. sadly not for two years, but in the meantime, as everyone has now acknowledged how important it is to keep live music in Soho, a number of clubs have agreed to open their doors to plug the gap. Look out for Save Soho pop up music events known as “The Reservation” currently being held at the Union Club. Tim explains: “Soho is the business incubator of the UK music industry. Music may have been born in other great cities but for the last six decades it has been in the small but influential music venues of Soho that new talent has been nurtured and gone mainstream. Without these venues it is doubtful that the UK would be as influential in music and comedy as we are. Many musicians have talked to me about Soho’s atmosphere as driving their creative talent. The 02 doesn’t quite do the same job!” Tim also points out that even the smallest venues that have been closed or demolished (The 12 Bar, Madame Jojo’s, The Metro Club, The Marquee, The Black Gardenia etc.) are providing employment for around 100 performers a month. Why are these jobs any less important than those in other industries?


The next battle is with Cross Rail 2 (north to south). Soho has already lost the top of Dean Street to Cross Rail 1. Until the Save Soho campaign got involved Transport for London had planned to make Soho Square into a work depot for up to 12 years for Cross Rail 2 and so deprive Soho of one of its few green spaces. That has been stopped, but they still plan to build a station, with the expected footfall of Kings Cross underground, on the site of the Curzon Cinema. In addition to losing this art-house cinema the development will overshadow the Prince Edward Theatre, The Palace Theatre and even Ronnie Scott’s. Tim believes that Soho cannot cope with the huge influx of people it will create; “It will be as busy as Gay Pride, but every day”. At the meeting at the end of last year Transport for London were surprised to see all these major businesses represented and somehow even the BBC got hold of the story. Tim’s not sure how…

Soho and its influence on music through the decades The UK’s music industry contributes £3.5 billion to the UK economy. (Source: UK Music – True Value of Music Industry to UK Economy Revealed). The Save Soho Campaign has successfully argued for Soho’s role, as the incubator of that industry, to be recognised and protected.

1950s British Rock and Roll was born in the 2i’s Coffee Bar of 59 Old Compton Street. Both Cliff Richard, Marty Wilde and Tommy Steele were discovered performing there.

The Brit Pop bands, such as Oasis, first found national attention following the release of singles like Cigarettes And Alcohol, the video for which was filmed at The Borderline on Manette St, one of a handful of music venues in Soho that is still thriving today.

The Mod movement was born in iconic locations such as The Marquee Club on Wardour Street (which in February opened as 100 Wardour Street), The Scene Club in Ham Yard and of course the fashion that exploded from Carnaby Street during the advent of The Who, The Kinks and The Beatles.

The Punk movement went mainstream after Malcolm McLaren famously booked The Sex Pistols’ early shows in small Soho strip clubs. Nowhere else in the country would host them! The 100 Club (on the edge of Soho) went on to help make punk become a global attraction by opening their doors to bands like The Sex Pistols, The Clash and many more in the late 70s.

The New Romantic Movement began at Billie’s Club on Dean Street (Now The Dean Street Townhouse) with DJs Rusty Egan and Steve Strange of Visage. Bands like Spandau Ballet learned their craft in front of audiences in the clubs of Soho and it was from here that it went mainstream. In addition to the music scene, Soho was instrumental in giving a platform to the alternative comedy scene with acts like The Comic Strip launching at The Boulevard Theatre (which will now be reopened by Soho Estates).





2000s Artists such as Paloma Faith honed their craft in Soho basement club ‘The Black Gardenia’. The beautiful Dickensian building in Dean Street was demolished to make way for CrossRail 1. The Libertines played many of their early shows at the legendary 12 Bar Club. The club’s management have since reopened in North London, though there is news of a venue reopening on the original sight in Denmark St.




PR-why bother? Gail Downey is Media Director at Onyx . She has worked as a TV & Radio Reporter and Presenter for the BBC and ITV. Gail has worked both client and agency side in communications. She has helped groups and individuals, including CEOs to understand what to do in a range of situations.

Say the word PR and most people immediately picture Absolutely Fabulous. But as a Soho based business you probably realise that Ab Fab were in fact publicists and PR agencies are not staffed entirely by inebriated women who spend all day, every day, attending events. But you may still be asking – what do PR people actually do? And is it relevant to my business? Put very simply; PR is getting other people to talk positively about you. Which is always much more convincing than saying it yourself (which is advertising). Getting other people to talk positively about you is not straightforward. It can take time to deliver tangible results and, in some cases, PR is unlikely to ever deliver the return on investment you need. However a positive article in the right publication can transform the fortunes of a business. It can change your position in the market place and give you authority and credibility that is usually difficult for a small business to achieve. So when is it worth spending your valuable time and budget on it? How can you be sure you get a return for that investment?


Do you have an interesting story to tell? Journalists will look for the human angle and for something that is topical, relevant and original. You may need to work to create stories that work for the media. Are you prepared to tell your story openly? Journalists will not restrict their questions or give you copy approval. And despite what many people assume, not all publicity is good publicity (ask Gerald Ratner or John Leslie), so consider the opportunities and risks. What business are you in? PR for some products and services will produce a higher impact to investment ratio than others. For example; if it is difficult to explain the impact your product has and your market is very niche, the PR opportunities are likely to be more limited. What does success look like? How does it fit with your marketing plan? You need to be really clear about this from the outset. Good PR often requires creativity and you will need to be prepared to take some managed risks. You don’t have to fly a balloon across the Atlantic, get into a Twitter spat with a rival or twerk on stage but it certainly helps!

AskWhich 1

Topic UK App Review

It’s February 2016 and my iPhone is so cluttered with apps I’m reaching the point where I need to delete some. Are we reaching the tipping point with apps? Or are there some real life-changers out there? By Nadio Granata

We thought we’d save you time by providing a genuine, no holds barred review of one of our current favourite apps that could be useful to your business; askwhich1. “askwhich1 is a new social polling app that lets you find out exactly what people think! Whatever your question, whether it’s big or small, get votes from friends and users from all around the world.” Most of us are familiar with Survey Monkey, right? A smart, reliable research tool that enables the user to create stylized surveys with responses instantly collated and illustrated in tidy, well defined graphs. If you add to that the power and simplicity of Twitter and then

add the cherry on the top that is Instagram and you have askwhich1. Surveys or polls, whatever term you prefer to use, can be instantly created on your smartphone and you can add images from your own camera roll or by dragging images directly from Google, which are resized by the app. Then you select one of three question types from the simple menu and off you go. One click allows you to preview the survey before you publish it and links to Facebook, Twitter or your clipboard are generated so you can share it with your audiences. So that’s how it works. Is it any good? Yes!

It’s got that addictive factor that Twitter no longer seems to have and Pinterest used to have until it lost out to Instagram. It’s quick, colourful, and serves a purpose. There is also the added degree of vanity, as with all things related to social media, as you sit and watch your responses, or ‘votes’, come flooding in.. Any weaknesses? Yes, at the moment you’re not able to invite your contacts to use the app. There is also the issue of not being able to target your respondents. Although brilliant, the current group facility means that I’m relying too much on responses from random respondents rather than targeted individuals, but I’m told it is coming. I’m sure it won’t be long before it catches on. Score: 8/10




Bowie’s lesson for business By Charlotte Childs, Brand Strategy Consultant at All is Well

There’s been a lot written about David Bowie since his sad passing in January. But as the dust settles, and discussions surrounding his legacy continue, what can we learn as business people from his decades of appeal? What did he do so well that will have us talking about him for the years to come?


Tenacity and the right team

Brand and repositioning

We start with David Jones, the young man traipsing the streets of London in search of recognition, opportunity and fame. For five years, he was part of numerous bands who released tracks with little acclaim and often with rejection. But our self-confessed idealist continued his quest. Still some way to go, his debut album was released the same day as Sgt Pepper and his single ‘The Laughing Gnome’ had been deemed a novelty. Undeterred, he re-emerged as a folk hero with the release of ‘Space Oddity’ in 1969 and, anxious to avoid becoming a one-hit wonder, he became prolific. This showed how important it is to remain true, but challenge and change if necessary.

As David Jones became David Bowie he showed us the importance of branding. The later personas of Ziggy, Thin White Duke, Pierrot demonstrated not only versatility but a need to compartmentalise. These subbrands had a shelf life and his own values as a performer, writer and entertainer formed his creative core. As Ziggy, the lines between these realities began to merge with his creation nearly becoming his undoing, and it took him time to recover and get back on track. Despite the brilliant transformations of his later career, it could be argued that this initial decadent expression became a bench mark for his other achievements. The lesson from this was that we set our own benchmarks and it’s our core brand and values that provide the longevity to succeed.

Collaboration and partners Bowie had a number of collaborations, from the long term partnership with Tony Viscounti to his conceptual kinship with Brian Eno. Others included John Lennon, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed. All provided experimentation, new techniques and opportunities for his further development. Collaborations in all business, but particularly in creative businesses, helps us extend ourselves, refresh our creativity and develop our skills. Legacy and audience Synonymous with zeitgeist, Bowie’s reinvention over his career created appeal that spans generations; be it androgynous Ziggy fans, Berlin era minimalists heralding the New Wave, smooth followers of ‘Let’s Dance’ and not forgetting the Jareth The Goblin King kids. Bowie resonates and becomes part of them, part of us. From his humble beginnings, the man true to his artistic roots leaves us spellbound with the perfect timing and delivery of a perfect final offering, keeps us guessing to the last. He transcended stardom to become a Global icon, who we all feel we own. A balance of infamy and enigma, inconsistent at times but with staggering highs. As business people we can take comfort that we may not always get it right but as long as we continue to evolve, we’ll find our niche once again.

As we embark on our post Bowie journey, his words and work, fearlessness in expression and experiment is surely the key to his legacy. He is ours to inspire, discover and rediscover again. His impact on culture and our collective perspective can’t be over-estimated; he opened our minds and the World is far more diverse thanks to him. An artist to the last, he’s shown us determination, beauty, vision and belief in what we do can do is the only way to go, which I know, I’ll certainly take on board and I thank him for it. SOHO



The most extraordinary film cast ever At the end of last year, in the Dolby screening room in Soho Square, the DVD of a film was launched that has left the film industry humbled by the cast list that two young actors managed to assemble for their film, Muse of Fire.

Those making the final cut include; Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Tom Hiddleston, Jude Law, Ewan McGregor, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, Baz Luhrmann, Mark Rylance, Fiona Shaw, James Earl Jones, Rita Dove, Sandy Foster, Harold Bloom, Brian Cox, Derek Jacobi, Alan Rickman, Steven Berkoff, Michael Gambon, Jeremy Irons, Peter Hall, Zoe Wanamaker, and

John Hurt. And then there are other world stars, such as Alan Cumming and many more, whose contribution sadly was more a passing moment due to the obvious time constraints. Muse of Fire is a feature documentary produced by actors and debut filmmakers, Giles Terera and Dan Poole. The film follows Dan and Giles as they try to discover everything they can about tackling Shakespeare. Their aim is to demystify and illuminate Shakespeare’s work for just about anyone: from actors, directors, theatre-goers, students, to the person on the street. The film documents their four-year journey around the world: to Elsinore in Denmark, London’s Globe theatre, a prison in Berlin, taking in Hollywood as they go. Along the road they consult a whole host of helpful luminaries, often going to great lengths to secure interviews with some of the greatest Shakespearean actors of all time.

James Earl Jones


As no great lovers of Shakespeare we were prepared to be a little bored.

Teachers down the ages have tried and largely failed to get young people interested in the Elizabethan playwright. Some of the most respected actors featured admitted they hated Shakespeare when they were young. But the film is a stunning success. It is an epic road-trip buddy movie that is reminiscent of Top Gear meets Graham

Judy Dench

Ewan McGregor

Dan & Giles

Muse of Fire is a must watch film for anyone involved in theatre or if you simply want a very entertaining 83 minutes watching some of your best loved actors speaking honestly and with such genuine warmth on a subject close to their hearts. It is available online at

Norton. It’s funny and very human and by the end you will even be able to explain iambic pentameter.

The duo have made all of the interviews available through the Globes new website for free. They can be found at

How Dan and Giles managed to get so many famous actors involved in the filming is probably down to their obvious passion for the subject and, in the case of Judi Dench, a particularly good looking and well-timed cake.

Currently every interview is self funded and they are seeking a sponsor to support the ongoing work in documenting these amazing actors, please get in touch via or via




Coming soon The British Culture Awards By Henry Conway, Founder of the British Culture Awards think differently, and in doing so, he changed our society forever. So why is it that when handing out awards we don’t reward or celebrate that impact? We reward the best actors, best directors, best writers for a particular skill on a particular project. However, I find it surprising that there are no awards that encourage and recognise the difference that culture makes to our lives.

The late Alan Rickman believed and said the following: “A film, a piece of theatre, a piece of music, or a book can make a difference. It can change the world.” I don’t believe many people would disagree with that statement. Our lives are enriched by culture, but also challenged


and inspired. The impact on wider culture drives the public funding of the arts after all, and even in straightened times – British cultural life didn’t surrender and give up during the Second World War for example. Losing some of our great cultural titans these past few months pulls into focus what an impact British culture makes around the world. David Bowie was undoubtedly an extraordinary musician, but the reason he will be most remembered in historic terms is the huge contribution he made to wider British Culture. He made us dress differently,

The British Culture Awards are being set up to change all that. The BCAs will be rewarding people and organisations who have made an impact. That could be JK Rowling for inspiring a generation of children to read, or Banksy for democratising art, or Lily Hall, the writer of Billy Elliot, the musical that has driven hundreds of boys to take up ballet. I’m sure you can think of many unsung heroes of culture that you would like to see recognised. The BCAs are in the planning stage. We are still looking for partners, sponsors and judges to make this a reality. If you want to be part of this initiative and join the exciting names already helping us, then please get in touch. You can follow us on Twitter for news @the_bcas . Our website is being launched soon at www.

Henry Conway




Pasha Kovalev Favourite Spot in Soho…


Soho is a thriving hub of restaurants making it difficult to pick just one as your favourite. We gave the difficult task to Pasha Kovalev, professional dancer and partner to 2014’s Strictly Come Dancing winner, Caroline Flack. Pasha chose the iconic Balans Society restaurant on Old Compton Street. So we sat down in the newly refurbished restaurant to find out what makes it his favourite spot and what he’s been up to… Why did you choose Balans? I love Balans because of its cosy yet sexy vibe. It also offers some privacy, particularly with the curtained booths at the back, which can be a bonus if you want a quiet meal (we were only disturbed once by fans at another booth). Plus it always smells of good food which is a big draw for me in any restaurant. What’s the most important part of the restaurant experience for you? Food is the main attraction for me. I can overlook less than five star service in order to get good grub. To be a great restaurant though, you need to create the right balance between good food, service and atmosphere, which Balans does with minimal fuss. What do you love about Soho? The atmosphere and buzz. Of course its central location is useful as it gives you access to everything you need. It


is the perfect place for before and after the theatre, great food and good fun. I spend most of my days when I’m not working around Soho. My agent’s office, Olivia Bell Management, is located in Soho which means I’m in the area a lot. What is the best part about your job? I’ve always loved dancing and being able to do that as my job is amazing. I really enjoy entertaining people, so sometimes it really doesn’t feel like a job. I also get to travel and can decide on my own schedule. What are your plans for 2016? Some much needed downtime at the start of the year. I was in the USA for Christmas, spending some quality time with family and friends, which was lovely. Now I’m looking forward to my new show. Fans can expect something new and spectacular as this show is very different to previous ones. Pasha is on a 74 date UK tour with his new show; "It’s all about You" from March 18th till June 12th. Tickets are available from his website:

designer for the likes of Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Givenchy. The restaurant has a cosy, yet crazy, theme with each piece of artwork displayed gifted from an artist. The management explained the thinking behind it. A new restaurant or café opens almost every month in Soho and each sets out to challenge the iconic establishments of Soho, but very few succeed. The chains are also seeing the benefits of setting up in such a vibrant hub and are eyeing up any new space available. For Balans to maintain its popularity they felt they needed to freshen up their look to ensure that they stood out from the competition. Balans told us that one of the best and most challenging parts of running a restaurant in Soho is the clientele. Balans Society is open all day for breakfast, lunch and dinner and their café opens 24 hours a day. The clientele over the course of the day is ever changing and each has a different expectation of the restaurant.

More About Balans Soho is a very competitive area for food and drink, but Balans stands out as one of the most popular and well known venues. We weren’t too surprised at Pasha’s choice. We spoke to the team at Balans to find out more about the restaurant and the recent refurbishment and to get their

Early evening, for example, many of their customers want a quick meal before the theatre, others want to refuel after shopping in nearby Oxford Street. As the offices empty this is also the time that Soho creatives come in looking for after-work cocktails with colleagues. At this time of day they also have to cater for those who want a more leisurely dinner party.

Balans Society Restaurant opened in the 1990s on the famous Old Compton Street. Since then it has served food and drinks to many a famous face as well as the regular Soho locals and visitors.

Balans told us that the key to getting it right is to focus on the detail and ensure that you train your staff well so that they identify and deliver each of those different needs. The Balans brand is brought to life by the waiting team, everything is reflected through them. Management then focuses on the quality of the food and drink. They told us that it is never worth skipping corners as it will always show.

The Soho branch has recently undergone a stunning refurbishment. The look has been achieved by the set designer, Simon Costin, who is the runway

To see the new look Balans you can book your table at can’t guarantee that Pasha will be there but the decoration alone is worth the visit.

advice for fellow Soho restaurateurs on dealing with the common challenges they face. How do they remain so popular?



in Soho I work and play

Photography and words by Eddie Cheng (eymc275)

Hair, makeup and model: Alivya V Free

As a creative graphic designer and photographer, I find that London is one of the most inspiring places on the planet to work in and nestled in the very heart of this vibrant city is Soho. Throughout the last 20 years spent working in London, Soho is an area I come back to constantly for both work and recreation.

Model: Elizzabeth James

The never-ending ‘buzz’ on Soho’s streets is one of the intoxicating things that appeals to the photographic side of me which feeds very well into the various quirky styles of street photography that I often shoot with models and members of the public alike. When taking students on my workshops through the streets, helping them to recreate and capture an element of the vibe is something that has become very rewarding to me. Even when I am not working, Soho features highly in my social calendar as some of my favourite eateries — Burger & Lobster, Bodean’s, L’Eto Caffé, Ember Yard, Eat Tokyo and Princi (to name just a few) — can be found there. I never tire of Soho or London. You can find more of my work on or follow my everyday ramblings on Facebook and Twitter.

Model: Stephanie Dubois

Model: Stephanie Dubois

Model: Jade Orvis

Wardrobe: Jessica Jagec Hair and makeup: Sarah Waycott-Marr Model: Salleh Sparrow




Hear from the Soho busker you listen to every day My friends and family thought I was crazy when I told them I was applying for a license to busk on the London Underground... By Phillipa Leigh

It turns out that busking on the Underground can lead to some amazing opportunities. I was spotted by Joan Armatrading while busking and ended up supporting her for a number of dates on her UK tour. Last year someone came along to a gig I was playing at Schott’s Music on Great Marlborough Street after she saw me busking. She brought her fiancé along and as soon as I finished playing, they booked me there and then to play at their wedding in Bucharest. Soho has an international flavour, which I get to see everyday I’m busking. I see the reaction from people of different nationalities when I play music from various countries. I was preparing for a gig in Brazil and decided to learn some famous Brazilian songs in Portuguese (not a language I am actually able to speak!). It was a wonderful way to break the ice and chat to Brazilians who had just heard me playing. You’d be amazed at what turns up in my instrument case. Of course what I want to see after a long stint on my feet playing my heart out is pounds and pence! But it’s also fun to find foreign coins, old coins, sweets, guitar


plectrums, buttons etc. Someone made origami out of a tube map, someone else left me a love note and my favourite was a book of poetry. And it’s always nice to receive smiles and thumbs up from people passing by. Busking in Soho is probably the best people watching in the world. Commuters and tourists, sharp suited business types, families on a day trip, mobs of sports fans on their way to Wembley or Lords Cricket Ground, concert goers, young, old and from every corner of the globe. There are great music venues in Soho for when I’m not busking. I am honoured to say I have performed at Ronnie Scott’s and Jazz After Dark and at many other restaurants, bars and coffee shops around Soho and China Town. Recently I’ve started filming myself on my phone and posting the videos on to Someone who found me this way makes these amazing Itsy Bitsy Ukulele’s that are small enough to fit into a pint glass. They are so cool and I am lucky enough to have been made one.

Phillipa Leigh In Green Hat



Will we Miss Saigon?

By Eileen Jones

The helicopter will land on the stage of the Prince Edward Theatre for the last time at the end of this month. (Feb) Miss Saigon, the £4.5million revival production, ends its run in the West End after nearly two years. The show, which reportedly recouped more than £4 million in ticket sales on its first day of booking, will close here – but will open on Broadway within the next two years, according to producer Cameron Mackintosh. It will be replaced incongruously, in a transition from the sublime to the ridiculous, by Aladdin. Musicals need both artistic integrity and commercial success; Saigon is adored by fans, and the revival won nine prizes at the 2015 Whatsonstage Awards, though failed to win any Olivier awards in the same year. But perspective: it’s had a good run, and the two eternal West End giants are exceptional: Les Miserables has just celebrated 30 outstandingly successful years, while The Phantom of the Opera is only a year behind it. Those shows have been regularly refreshed and still


look in top shape, with new casts constantly renewing them, but money does seem to make the world go round on stage. "Musicals are a very expensive business,” says Britain’s leading theatre critic Mark Shenton. “But after a show closes, there's the opportunity to look at it afresh. “The costs of putting on a West End musical of any size can run upwards of £3m, and in the case of the transfer of The Book of Mormon, that was said to be the pre-opening marketing budget alone. On Broadway, they're even greater: $15m is now the norm, and in the case of Spiderman, it went beyond $70m. “So they need to run a long time just to make their money back. The stakes are high -- but far from compromising the artistic ambitions and achievement, it means they need to be high, too. The show needs to be worth the amount of money being spent to produce it -- and for audiences to spend huge amounts of



money, too, to buy tickets to see them.” Aaron Lee Lambert sees it from both sides. He’s been understudy for the lead role of John in Miss Saigon – but at the same time wrote and developed his own musical. From Up Here - about five strangers who meet on the Brooklyn Bridge - had its world premiere at the fringe Wilde Theatre, where the performance was streamed live to an online audience. It was made possible with help from Perfect Pitch, a not-for-profit theatre company, supported by Arts Council England; it’s not going to make him a fortune. He’s driven by the belief that live theatre has a way of moving people like no other art form. “I studied composition at Yale, so writing and arranging music has always been a part of my adult life,” says Aaron, born in Dallas, brought up in St Louis. “From Up Here was such a labour of love, and I'm forever grateful to Perfect Pitch for allowing me the time and resources to see it through to production.” And after Saigon? There are irons in the fire, says Aaron. Watch this space.

is heart-breaking; more stoic than some of her predecessors, when she unleashes the big emotions they have all the more impact, leaving one in no doubt that this is a woman who would do whatever it takes to secure the best life for her child. Her singing combines sweetness and power to enthralling effect. She is the heart of the show, and what a heart. Opposite her Chris Peluso is no less effective, projecting all of his character's confusion, ardour and fundamental decency; he also sings like a dream.

Alun Hood’s Miss Saigon Review You only have until 27th February not to miss MISS SAIGON! You're also unlikely to see a finer cast than the one closing the show at Soho's Prince Edward Theatre, prior to what I am sure will be a triumphant transfer to Broadway

Conceived as a follow-up their epochmaking Les MisĂŠrables, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg's update of the Madame Butterfly story to the Vietnam War (for anybody living under a stone: American GI falls for innocent bar girl only to lose her in the fall of Saigon, she follows him abroad in the hope of a better life) has acquired tragically unwelcome resonance in the 26 years since it was first produced, given the plight of current refugees. It is gratifying to read in the programme that some of the proceeds from each performance go to the Save the Children Syrian Crisis Appeal. Laurence Connor's gritty, dynamic staging feels more character-driven than the more monumental original. Not that this version isn't epic when it needs to be -the scenes featuring the large company are frequently thrilling, especially in the devastating flashback sequence in Act 2 where we see the lovers separated as the final helicopter airlifts the soldiers out of the US embassy- but the sense of massive events impacting on regular lives is more keenly felt. In the lead role of Kim, Eva Noblezada

As both of these performers are American they must surely be a shoo-in for the Broadway mounting. So should Jon Jon Briones, compellingly sleazy as The Engineer who goes from pimp to political opportunist in the course of the show. It is a nastier take on the role than some I've seen (his fabulous 11 o'clock production number 'The American Dream' reinforces the ideas that yes the devil really DOES get all the best tunes) but he commands the stage. In the potentially thankless role of the GI's American wife, Siobhan Dillon shines, suggesting a kindness and strength that mitigates somewhat against the fact the audience is all rooting for Kim, and she sings her new number 'Maybe' gorgeously. The showdown between the two women in a hotel room is electrifying and deeply moving. Schonberg's endlessly melodic and dramatic score remains one of the glories of modern musical theatre and it is a treat to hear it performed as well as it is here. The physical production may lack the elegance of the original but it is a much more realistic, even at times downright harrowing, representation. Bruno Poet's stunning lighting is particularly effective at transforming the space into different moods and locations. At a time when musical revivals tend to be scaled down and pared back, all credit to Cameron Mackintosh for giving us a new Saigon that is still in every sense a big experience. It's a blockbuster with heart, spectacle, emotional and sheer theatrical excitement. See it while it's still here as it's cheaper than stumping up the airfare to New York!!




LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: Soho is still no.1 for creative businesses


If the City is the square mile for financial services, then Soho – with its world leading visual effects companies, advertising agencies and production companies – is the square mile for creative businesses; a rampantly growing sector that the government says contributes £77bn to the UK economy. For a company like Squire, it feels almost mandatory to be in Soho. As a creative content studio that deals with brands, advertising agencies, record labels, music and broadcast producers, it’s difficult to find another location with enough cross-board appeal to appease this varied pool of businesses. Soho has a tightly-knitted creative community that is irresistible to companies involved in creative media. I honestly can’t leave our Poland Street HQ without bumping into a potential collaborator or client. In Soho, you can literally get work on the street. And I’m not referring to the area’s bygone Red Light era… For Squire, being in Soho is a statement of creative intent. W1 provides a thriving social hub that works for our staff, collaborators and clients. By being geographically close to this network, Soho gives us a refreshing chance to push back against email culture and deal with people face-to-face. The past decade has, of course, seen Soho’s exclusive claim to being London’s ultimate hub of creativity slip a little. As landlords began to exploit Soho’s magnetism, rents increased dramatically and forced smaller businesses into further corners of the capital, like Shoreditch. Although Hoxton Square and its surroundings used to offer a cheaper alternative, this is not necessarily the case any more. The usual tale of gentrification

turning a once affordable location into the next property hot spot has meant the creative diaspora is now taking many media businesses like advertising agencies further afield to places like the Southbank, home of Tate Modern & BFI. And that’s all good. One area alone cannot be expected to accommodate this thriving and continually increasing part of our economy. But, for me, when it comes to creative culture, Soho still reigns. Served by superior public transports links, clients and staff alike are always happy to visit Soho’s cultural institutions, shops and restaurants. From theatre land, to the country’s best cinemas, galleries, comedy clubs and members bars (both opulent and underground), Soho is incredibly culturally rich.

By JT (MD) and Phil Tidy (Exec Producer) @ Content Studio,

This rich cultural legacy is indebted to its history of ethnic diversity. In the middle of the last century, the area’s epicentre status gave rise to a melting point of ethnically mixed restaurants and counterculture hangouts like jazz clubs. Add to that the area’s Red Light underbelly and Soho cultivated the unique risqué atmosphere that attracts creative types who don’t feel the need to play by the rules. As can be seen by the fact that Soho institutions like Bar Italia and Ronnie Scott’s still survive today, this legacy of counterculture rule breaking lives on and provides a fertile breeding ground for any form of creativity, business or otherwise.




Lucrative career from a passion for good food Thanks to their chef father, Emily and Annabel Lui have always had a passion for good food, learning to bake in the tiny kitchen of their North London home. Despite pursuing careers in corporate fields, Annabel in finance and Emily in Law, the sisters were determined to turn their hobby into a career, and in February 2013 decided to launch Cutter & Squidge, an all-natural bakery specialising in their own signature creation the biskie; a delicious hybrid of cake, biscuit and cookie. Still in their 9-5 jobs, Emily and Annabel spent weekends getting up at the crack of dawn baking fresh biskies and cakes to sell at Partridges market in Chelsea, which, along with their website, allowed them to build up their initial fan base, many of whom are now regular customers at Cutter & Squidge. Word soon got out, and Cutter & Squidge were approached by both Harrods and Selfridges, offering them their own pop up stands within the renowned department stores. Allowing them to reach a wider audience and see the positive reactions from customers encouraged Emily and Annabel to look to their next venture – a pop-up shop of their own in one of London’s busiest districts; Soho. “Soho has a great buzz about it and food is a focus of the area. It has a fantastic mix of people and businesses who are open to trying something new. From the moment we open the doors we were overwhelmed with the welcome by locals and instantly felt like part of a community. We feel really at home here!” The perfect space was found on Brewer Street and Cutter and Squidge moved in, utilising the space to display their tempting range of biskies, dream cakes and other handmade delights. A taste of their own store had the sisters immediately looking to move to a permanent space, with Brewer Street firmly in their minds. They discovered number 20 Brewer Street and straight away claimed it as their new spot, with


Cutter & Squidge, an all-natural bakery the vision of opening by the end of the year. After months of hard work, very long days and surviving on biskies alone(!), Cutter and Squidge opened the doors to its first permanent site in September 2015. The business is still growing, with a team of 5 in the Fulham-based kitchen and 7 retail staff in the store, which is open seven days a week, and the girls certainly have big plans for the future. “We would love to have more shops in London and become a household name for our biskies and cakes! The aim is to be known for our 100% natural baked goods and confectionery; we are keen that people know that natural baking can be beautiful and taste good and there is no need for bottled additives!�




The Potato Project brings fancy jackets to London’s Soho A brand new café and take-­away has opened on Soho’s Noel Street, adding a delicious new twist to the humble classic.

The Potato Project offers freshly baked British spuds with delectable toppings like smoked ham hock, cheddar & piccalilli, prawn & bourbon Marie Rose sauce and borlotti bean, tomato & gallybagger cheese.

The Potato Project is the brainchild of Russian Sommelier Ksenia Karpenko, previously of Four to Eight in Covent Garden & currently consulting the Best Wine Bar in Moscow called Wine Religion.

The 'Something a little different' section of the menu features shepherd's pie ragu with salted ricotta – but forget mince, this is big chunks of tender, flavour-­packed lamb with fresh peas and a rich gravy. Raclette cheese with roasted artichoke is an indulgent winter warmer, and the all-­day breakfast a sight to behold. The hungry can add sides such as a half loaded avocado, buttermilk & root veg slaw and 7 types of tomato salad.

“I chose potatoes because they’re a Russian and British staple!’ says Ksenia. ‘They’re one of the more healthy carb options, and I want to show people that a baked potato can be a balanced, healthy meal that’s also delicious and exciting!

There's even a sweet potato cheesecake if you fancy a dessert, and space to eat in if you fancy working your way through the lot. The feel is relaxed and casual with its own personality – somewhere you’d happily sit for a lunch hour.


London is such a crowded market but no one’s quite doing what we’re doing – I’m excited to see how we can develop the concept in the future.”

New café and take-­away has opened on Soho’s Noel Street




The Theatre’s limited love affair with women

She was the star of Women in Love, but Glenda Jackson has learned that the acting world isn’t in love with women. By Eileen Jones

She was the star of Women in Love, but Glenda Jackson has learned that the acting world isn’t in love with women. Some 23 years after quitting the theatre for politics, Jackson returned to find the same lamentable absence of good roles for women. Especially older women. “Actresses were complaining in exactly the same way 23 years ago,” said Jackson, who made a comeback after standing down as Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn. She starred in some of the best films of the 20th Century, won two Oscars and

worldwide acclaim. But in the season of the equality-movie Suffragette, Jackson asked reporters: “Where are the remarkable new plays which have women as the driving engine? That is what is deeply, deeply depressing.” Her view is echoed by leading Sohobased casting director Lucinda Syson. “There are still too few good roles for women. We casting directors keep trying to change the situation. “Take a film like Alien; it was genius and had an iconic female lead (Sigourney Weaver); think of Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect. I just don’t buy the fallacy that male actors put ‘bums on seats’. I think we have been fed the idea because of deep rooted sexism and huge inequalities. “We have such brilliant actresses who just aren’t given the opportunities. They also all start to disappear once they hit a certain age and it doesn’t make any sense.” Audiences are now asked to judge if a play (or film) passes the Bechdel test: that there are at least two women in leading roles, who talk to one another,


and NOT about a man. Beth Watson, Founder of Bechdel Theatre, has taken the campaign to social media to try and raise awareness about the inequality. “It's shocking that there are still so few, and such a limited variety of roles for women on stage, in new plays as well as what we think of as the canon. “There’s something to be done at every level to make a change. Producers, funders and artistic directors can commit to commissioning and choosing plays featuring women, and female-led narratives. Those who make driving creative decisions behind the


‟We have such brilliant actresses who just aren’t given the opportunities. They also all start to disappear once they hit a certain age and it doesn’t make any sense.ˮ they plan another Shakespeare this way again this year. Director Brandon Force says: “Historically there has been a trend of fewer roles for women and particularly good roles for women. I don't think gender-blind casting works for every production, but there are many that it can work for, and it could bring to light new ideas and themes within many plays. Tempest Karen McCraffrey Images: cameron slater photography

Ideally the theatre should reflect the rich possibilities of life, rather than present and perpetuate a limited, patriarchal view of society. I think gender-blind casting is one positive way forward, among others.”

scenes, writers and directors, can ask themselves: "Could this character be female?" or "What are her relationships with the other women in her life?" She adds: “Many of the roles we think of as exciting parts for female actors are so-called ‘strong women’ who, despite the intelligence and bravery embodied in them, are often represented in isolation, or only in relation to men. Yes, stories of lone women in male worlds are often valid, truthful and relatable, but they are not the only truth or the whole truth.” An occasionally-used option is the genderblind production of plays, such as the recent Tempest at the London Theatre Workshop;



Health &Beauty

Improve your health for Spring By Stephanie Cantelo.

Stephanie is a master personal trainer and body coach. She provides online personal training plans for people needing extra support, motivation and structure to their fitness training routine.

“Spring is just around the corner (I know it doesn’t feel like it!) What steps can a time-poor Soho business owner do to shake off the winter lethargy? Below are my top tips.” 1. Ditch the salad, yes you heard me right. Lettuce has almost no nutritional value. Once you add dressing it’s not even low in calories. Of course you can add foods that make them more nutritious but a Caesar’s salad, for example, is no better for you than a plate of chips. It is time we stopped kidding ourselves. Instead go for green vegetables (broccoli is particularly good) and lots of protein.

2. Swap the breakfast carbs. It was Kellogg’s who persuaded everyone that we needed a carb heavy breakfast. Until then we ate protein at breakfast and it’s far healthier. It is the time of the day that I eat salmon, fish, eggs and avocado. It is even my preferred time for eating steak.


3. Build more exercise into your daily commute. Soho is served by so many stations that you can easily pick one that adds just a couple of extra minutes to your daily walk… even that will make a difference. The following week pick a station a bit further away and slowly build up to ensure you walk for at least 20 minutes from the station. As well as the extra exercise, isn’t it nice to change your walk and not get stuck in a boring routine?

4. Walk between meetings. Most of London is far more walkable than people assume. Even walking from Euston Station in the North to Waterloo Station in the South will only take you around 40 minutes. Walking often won’t take any longer than getting the bus and you’ll get to see more of London and get some fresh…ish air.

minutes every day. It is worth getting a professional to show you the exercises first and watch you so that you get them right (otherwise you can do damage or waste your time). You also need to change what you do regularly as the body quickly gets used to the exercises and you’ll get no further benefit.

6. Fit in cardiovascular exercise at least twice a week. It has far less impact on your size and shape than most people think (your diet and weight training are more important) but you do need to get your heart racing a little at least twice a week. Stress does not count! Try and find something you enjoy doing so it is not a chore. If you don’t like running or cycling have you thought of dancing, or self defence classes?

5. Exercise at home.

7. Swap your caffeine and diet drinks for water.

If you can’t make time for the gym there are lots of exercises you can do watching TV. Try to fit in at least 30

Very simple and probably the most effective thing to make you feel energised.




Add some

Razzle Dazzle

to your wardrobe with a ‘statement’ necklace Katie Portman explains why every woman NEEDS (at least) one They project confidence

Oliver Bonas

Katie Portman is a freelance journalist and an award winning lifestyle and fashion blogger at Pouting in Heels (www. poutinginheels. com) who writes a regular feature for TopicUK. You can follow Katie on our website: www.topicuk. or on Twitter @ KateLPortman.

These pieces of jewellery are not called statement necklaces for nothing. You’ve got to be pretty bold to wear a statement necklace, as they don’t ask for attention, they demand it. If you’re having a ‘I’m feeling rubbish’ kind of day but yet need to face the world with your confident head on, this is the jewellery item you need.

They’re kid friendly (kinda)

Are they toddler proof? Possibly not. But they sure tend to be harder to crack and break, than say a beloved, delicate gold chain. Yes kids will be attracted to them, yes they’ll want to touch them and yes you might experience a few casualties, but at least you won’t lose your precious expensive pieces to determined little hands.

They inject personality

Beaded or bejewelled. Metallic or colourful. Pretty or edgy. There is a statement necklace for everyone. All you need to do is find the ones that speak your style language.

They liven up an outfit

A simple dress, a crisp white shirt, a plain ol’ T-shirt – all perfect backgrounds for the statement necklace to shine. However they look equally as lovely when


paired with prints and patterns too.

They bring attention to your face Statement necklaces will attract people’s attention to your neck area and then to your beautiful face! The perfect piece for when you want people to be looking at you and listening to what you have to say (like when you’re in that really important business meeting.)

They’re a talking point

We’ve all been there. Those events and ‘dos’ where you find yourself stuck with a bunch of strangers and no one quite knows what to say. Unless that is, you’re wearing a necklace that is a statement piece! Wanna get the conversation flowing? Then give people something to talk about with one of your favourite bold and beautiful necklaces.


The statement necklace is an incredible fashion piece. It speaks so you don’t have to. It’s bold and dramatic. It makes ordinary clothes look something special and adds character. It makes you stand out, helping you to look and feel fantastic.

I ask you, really, what is not to love?

Marks And Spencer






So what exactly is Big Data …if it is neither BIG, nor DATA? By Mike Fish

Mike Fish is a Director of BigData4Analytics Ltd, a Big Data Management Consulting firm – vendor-neutral and exclusively focused on helping enterprises make sense of Big Data.

Many people ask us why there doesn’t seem to be an accepted definition for Big Data in view of the massive press it receives. And given the amount of marketing effort expended by the global IT vendors who are targeting this bandwagon (and the venture- funded start-ups) they can be forgiven for being confused. Just as most consumer marketing is focused on adolescent buyers with a fraction of the purchasing power of their parents and grandparents, so it is with Big Data and its promoters. They shower their traditional customers with buzzwords while failing to engage with (or indeed, completely alienating) the business managers who have both the business problems that analytics can Why is this, and what does it mean for Big Data adoption? My personal view is that the targeting of IT departments stems from both laziness and geekiness. Laziness, in the sense that - with few exceptions - these large vendors got to


be large without needing to address directly the concerns of business managers – the IT departments they deal with have until now performed this translation task for them. Geekiness, in the sense that the smaller specialist vendors are often managed by technologists, and so their market messages - for reasons of background - also tend to focus on “speeds and feeds” rather than on solving practical business problems. So let us return to the question of what the term “Big Data” actually means. Our experience in working as Management Consultants in Big Data with clients in retail, ecommerce, supply chain, insurance and other industries (as well as with investors and start-ups) suggests that there is no accepted definition; however we have been able to evolve and validate our own definition of what it’s not and what it is. It is interesting that the technology business is at last starting to move toward definitions that business people would recognise. Our Three Pillars definition – at least in

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relation to products - was summed up neatly by Paul Maritz, CEO of Pivotal - the Big Data division of IT storage giant EMC, who recently described Big Data as follows: “Today, thanks to the technologies known as “Big Data” computers can capture things as they are happening and can affect events as the events are unfolding.” So, contrary to all the media hype, “Big Data” is really neither “Big” nor about “Data” – it is about Questioning (in new ways), Accelerating (shorter time to business impact via insight and automation) and Transforming (using analytical insight to change culture - amplifying business intuition, not replacing it).

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