Socially Enterprising: Resonating through the smiles

In the first of a series of profiles of individual social enterprises, we talk to Angela Beardsley, founder of Resonate Together, advocating a creative approach to daily living


Angela_B_400x400What’s the name of your company and who owns it?
Our legal name is Resonate Arts House, but we will change our corporate name to Resonate Together this year.

When was it set up?
In 2008 the Scottish Government town centre regeneration program came to Alloa to hand out art-related contracts. Due to my arts degree I was awarded one, so with a few people I made artwork for a wall. By visiting local groups and listening to their needs, it became clear that they wanted a positive experience to make a difference. When the project contract came to an end, people approached me telling me of their need to keep the energy going.

To start a business, we needed a place where people could connect, talk and listen. All the business start-up supports talked of a five-year plan, but I thought constructing the next five years would be a betrayal to the participants. So I remortgaged my house and donated money to the cause.

For the next two years we created a plan of not planning, because to be able to listen you need to take yourself out of the conversation. People individually needing something came in, and working with their hands enabled all community diversity to share experiences. They began to feel confident and they started to talk. During the process, we investigated what a social enterprise was and eventually became incorporated on 28 August 2012.

What’s the company’s aim?
The banking crisis hit the local area with many cuts, and the constant news increased the level of hopelessness. Our aim became growing a supportive platform for a diverse society of individuals by creating arts, creativity and design, through to health and wellbeing, to personal manufacturing and so on.

What did you (Angela) do previously?
In addition to volunteering in countries around the world, I have been a computer programmer, an aerobics instructor, a sales manager in the tech sector and a magician’s assistant. The journey has taught me a great deal about whom I am and connected me to an amazing community.

Why be a social and not a private enterprise?
My mum and dad had a corner shop in a village outside of Nottingham; I grew up watching them work hard for every penny. They would answer the door at 3am to a mother that needed milk for her child, or to an elderly gent having a gas leak. The shop was the centre of our community until a supermarket opened up on the edge of the village. They sold milk cheaper than my mum could buy it for our shop. I had to watch as the walls crumbled.

I believe strong commercial gain can be achieved by local social businesses and the benefits should come back to that community. What happens locally matters, so what is our purpose if not to add value to our community and place?

How many staff/volunteers?
We have managed to employ two part-time staff members. We have a regular core of a dozen volunteers, but with a good 50 who rally when the call goes out.

Who are your main customers?

Tell us about your best trading experience?
For me it is all about the smiles. The best trading experiences are when someone, for the first time in years, has the passion in something to buy something for themselves. Like Gemma, a mother who felt lost in the world, came to our annual, free workshops and found she enjoyed drawing. She purchased her first drawing pencil from our shop, 44p. We gave her a discount, and she smiled from ear to ear.

And the worst?
We make constant business mistakes when we trade and lose money. However, being a social enterprise means that there is more to it than money. We need to work on the income for we are determined to be self-sustainable. You do have to stand on your own two feet and we are very close to making it.

And what are your future plans?
We are starting to understand many avenues of what Resonate is and we do need to increase our revenue. Resonates role is to be the platform to support others to grow. Our future plans are in the hearts and minds of our community and it is exciting.

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