Step Inside: Impact Brixton

Step Inside is a series of short films and interviews that tell the story of some of our talented members at Pop Brixton. Behind the food stalls and bars, there’s a thriving community of start-ups and independent businesses. ‘Step Inside’ is an exclusive peek behind the scenes to meet the people that make Pop Brixton and to take a look inside their units.

Conversation with Gerald and Jenine at Impact Brixton, a co working space and a community of entrepreneurs, freelancers and social change makers with 155 members.
What kind of projects are being developed at Impact Brixton?
Jenine: The businesses here vary from Grace who's been making cushions for a year after quitting her accountancy job to Ben who is building a map of all the amenities within western Africa. Most people start at home, in their living room or kitchen and it gets to a point where they need other people around them, energy and community support. On Monday nights, we have Open Project Night so people who are working on community projects can get together, not just members.
Do you collaborate with other members?
Jenine: Definitely, a lot of the members actually work in certain parts of the organization like the newsletter. When possible, I always call on the immediate community.
What are your favourite things about your roles?
Gerald: We throw some pretty cool events, about female entrepreneurs, education, social change. But the fun events are actually about inspiration. Getting people in here for cocktails, networking and speaking to others. We find it inspires them to take that leap.
Jenine: I love seeing a freelancer come in, then employing somebody and growing their team. For example, we had PACK'D starting smoothies and a year later I walked into Sainsbury's and saw that product in the freezer.
Why is being in Pop Brixton important to you?
Gerald: Seeing the Rastafari movement come in here, their eyes light up and notice that this place is black owned. When we think about gentrification, a lot of the black community assume that they can't own a space like this. They assume that they don't belong in a space like this. Programs like Open Project Night and seeing a diverse community, people that wouldn't typically walk in here, is amazing to me.
And what about Brixton?
Jenine: The community is so diverse. There is a huge community that care about so many different things and there's so many challenges but there's also a lot of people who want to tackle those things.
Gerald: I agree, I think unlike places like Shoreditch or Camden that have gone through gentrification and have changed into something that feels more global, Brixton has managed to stay very local. Some describe it as hyper local. People recognize that and fall in love with it. Every Brixtonian is proud to be from Brixton. We've achieved this balance between growth yet there is there is a local focus for the projects and how they improve lives here.
Do you have tips for someone starting their own business?
Jenine: Start small. Just do one thing that can get you to the next point. Coming to places like this means you can talk to other people that can help. Once you start talking and telling people what you want to do, things will open up, you'll meet the right people and it will happen.
Do you have any interesting stories?
Gerald: The People's Fridge came from Impact. During the Grow Your Own Leaders program, some people walked in and wanted to solve the problem of food wastage in Brixton. Suddenly it wasn't just an idea.
Jenine: It's become a fridge that most restaurants in Brixton put their wastage in. Anybody can come and pick it up, as long as you have a need for it and you know you're going to use it.
What are your plans for the future?
Gerald: Over the last four years, Impact Hub has supported hundreds of freelancers, entrepreneurs and 'social change makers'. We are limited by space so we want to support more people through our virtual network. Our goal is 10,000 members, this year or next. We want to do that through a membership that is very affordable, £18 per month.
Our call out is to the community and our call out is: "Don't ask what the community can do for you but ask what you can do for the community.”
We want people to get active with the stuff we're doing. We're throwing 200 events this year. One of the key events is Monday night's Open Project Night and we would like anyone in the community with any idea to walk into our building on any Monday night. We are launching our crowdfunding campaign on 26th April and we’re raising £100,000 for programs like Open Project Night and to renovate the space. The idea is, if it's in your head, get it out, get it here and we can help.
Online Platforms:
https://brixton.impacthub.net https://www.instagram.com/impactbrixton/ https://twitter.com/impactbrixton https://www.facebook.com/impactbrixton/

Words & Images by Ash Chalk

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