Who are Leaf Group and what do they do?
At last week’s Weightmans Wednesday bi-monthly networking event, I found out the answer for myself. What I found was a story not only about success, but also of overcoming obstacles.
The event featured Natalie Haywood, who is the founder of Leaf Group. Since forming in 2007, Leaf Group has grown successfully to encompass a chain of successful bars in Liverpool including Leaf, Oh Me Oh My, and One Fine Day, which has recently opened on Old Hall Street. I have had the pleasure of visiting these establishments, so this was an opportunity to learn about the origins of the business.
Natalie spoke a great deal about Leaf’s business journey. From the beginnings on Bold Street, to dealing with landlord disputes, raising finance, and the growing pains of the business, I was very impressed with Natalie’s story. As I listened carefully, I understood why Leaf has been successful, through offering a unique and successful service, whilst encountering and tackling difficulties.
In addition, Natalie also gave a glimpse into the soul of Leaf Group. This included talking about being creative and experimenting with new ideas, which is very important, because businesses must continuously adapt to remain competitive. At the same time, businesses must remain true to their core values and their customers’ needs, which is difficult to balance effectively, resulting in stressful times and problems that need to be overcome.
I also learned that businesses must be resourceful, resilient and tenacious. The hospitality industry is ferociously competitive, with many casualties littering cities like corpses on a battlefield. Therefore for restaurants and bars like all businesses, it is all about product and the customer experience. Customers have so much choice and the collective power, which make or break businesses.
Upon reflection, I admire Natalie for not only telling the story of Leaf Group, but also of the difficult times encountered. Anyone can speak about how successful they have been, but honestly describing what also went wrong, and of the lessons learned takes both honesty and courage, to reveal a sense of vulnerability to an audience. In my opinion, you learn more when you fail, but how you learn and respond is the key, and I applaud Natalie for showing the path to success involves encountering and overcoming failures.
Finally I would like to thank Natalie, and Rebecca Driffield and Sarah Jennings from Weightmans, for organising an excellent evening of networking.