In February 2015, businesswoman Susan Inglis posted a request on “Geneva Womenpreneurs”, a Facebook group for women running small businesses in the Geneva and the Vaud area. The request asked if they would like to meet up and have a chat about the challenges they faced. At that first meeting, 15 women arrived, they introduced themselves and their businesses, three months later they are now on their fourth “meet up” and the group continues to flourish.
Living in Nyon spoke to Susan to find out more about the Womenpreneurs’ group, Susan’s own business and how she is finding life in Switzerland after moving here from Scotland.
“Before moving with my partner to Switzerland in 2012 (from Glasgow), our initial plan was to stay here for just two years but we knew within two days that we wanted to stay. Very quickly I knew I loved Nyon and felt at home immediately. I am originally from a small town like Nyon called Oban on the West Coast of Scotland. Oban is a town surrounded by the sea and hills (see short video below) whereas Nyon with its lake and mountains, is equally beautiful.
I moved here with my partner for his job and as I knew I wasn’t going to meet anyone sitting at home, I joined Nyon tennis club.
I love tennis and through the club have built great friendships; there is a fantastic little community within the club. We try to support as much as we can with everything that is going on in Nyon: wine tasting at the château, Saturday food markets, outdoor cinema, great restaurants, music festivals, theatre and lots more, for a small town there is a lot happening.
Although I am used to speaking a second language (I learned Scots Gaelic at school), I really started as a beginner learning French so initially I took some private lessons and then moved on to group lessons organised by Ecole Club Migros. After six months of settling in and enjoying a fantastic summer here, I decided to give my existing business “The Purple Thistle” a try here in Switzerland. I create cushions, accessories and gifts using Scottish Harris Tweed, this material is steeped in heritage and woven by skilled and experienced artisans.
Photo above – some of the Purple Thistle’s products
I had kept some of my original customers from the UK, but didn’t really develop anything until last year I ran a stall at my first market in Nyon. I met some great ladies at this market and we all attended the Christmas circuit of fairs together and became enthusiastic. Things then fell very quiet in January. As I used to attend a monthly “makers” market in the West End of Glasgow, where we also visited Edinburgh & St Andrews, I hadn’t realised how much I missed these markets and the opportunity to meet others in business.
Photo above – Dog collars made with Harris Tweed
Forming a group for other business women
So at the end of January, I posted that comment out on the Womenpreneurs site and I haven’t looked back. We now have our own group on Facebook with over 60 members and continue to help each other to develop our businesses! As that first event proved such a great success we realised that we all missed having a regular market to attend. Markets are essential for local creators and makers to develop relationships with their customers.
So myself and two other business women, Debbie Willis from “Bedes Beads” and Alison Philips-Pearce from “Brit Chic” began talking about how we could change this and UpMarket Markets was born, affectionately known as UMM! The first UpMarket Markets will be held at the
Hotel Beau Rivage in Nyon on Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st May 2015 from 10:00 – 16:00
All vendors have to either have made or designed their product to be able to join UMM. We have a great range of products and produce ranging from cushions to handbags, jewellery to children’s clothes, there is even a local farm which will be selling their produce on the day. There will also be a children’s creative ‘Make & Take’ area and ‘Gateaux & Cadeaux’ where you can enjoy a coffee with a slice of homemade cake overlooking the lake at the same time!
So after three years in Nyon I really feel I am growing some roots here now. My little dog Belle loves it too, she comes everywhere with me. Who knows what the future will bring but I am certainly going to enjoy this town and Switzerland as much as I can!”