Mark Ashmore FRSA and the Future Artists team bring you Home of Honest Coffee, a unique co-working space and artisan coffee shop social enterprise in the heart of Manchester’s creative district. Funded by 155 RSA Kickstarter backers in 2014, a grant from the RSA and Future Artists funding, Home of Honest Coffee opened its door on 17th August 2015.
Home of Honest Coffee is a new breed of community space - part coffee shop and kitchen selling local fresh produce and amazing coffee, and part co-working space with 3 big tables, room for 30 people and superfast internet (you can send big 1GB files in just 5 minutes!) The space is free for all to use, for as long as you want, without having to buy anything - we are a freelancer's paradise! To top it all off, after costs of running the project, all the profits go back into the local community within a 5 mile radius of the shop - so the more you spend with us, the more you support your local community with grants from Home of Honest Coffee.
I was sick and tired of the arts and creative industries having funding cut to the bone and the arts being elbowed out of schools, with youngsters not having access to the basic services that helped me to get to where I am today. I’m in no way a rich man, but I have a career in the arts and boy was it a struggle (and still is). I’d been thinking, what would I need if I was to start out in 2015? and so with the help of the RSA, 155 Kickstarter backers and a loan from the film company I run – one year later Home of Honest Coffee launched in part art protest, part business and part community glue.
The RSA has nurtured me from the beginning, in terms of helping me to manage my ideas and also my expectations. Fellows, particularly in the North, have been very, very important too. Without the guidance and support from the RSA and the Fellowship, this project would have remained an idea, but they stuck with me and supported me for two years to realise and action this project which has enabled me to grow in terms of business and social enterprise development. I was also awarded an RSA Catalyst grant and we plan to host four free events at Home of Honest Coffee to share with Fellows and the general public how we made all this happen.
Social Impact in the North
My intention is that this Home of Honest Coffee is a trial model for something we can deliver across the UK. Having set this social enterprise up for £14,000 (which includes 3 months' rent for the space), it’s an affordable model to generate income for good causes and something that is not alien to people. Plus, if built with flexibility in mind the space has so much potential; I really do believe the concept behind HoHC has the potential to grow across the UK.
In 2016, we’ll be awarding the first grants to local community projects from profits made from the coffee shop aspect of the business. Until then, my job's not even half way complete… It’ll be cause for a big celebration!
Via our research, quite a few co-working spaces are popping up and the corporate entities are starting to move into this market as they smell a profit. I’m of the belief that you should not profit from people when they are vulnerable, and start-ups are the most vulnerable link in the business food chain. It’s ruthless, but dressed up with ping pong tables and free tea and coffee, the notion that 'there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch' needs to be remembered. Thus, Honest Coffee's co-working exists as a place of nurture, a real life social network which will put creative business on the right track - our space is free and all our profits go back into the local community. Our costs are transparent and will be published monthly.
Artistic meets business
Selling coffee makes this new venture possible. Coffee not only has the highest profit margins but for years, coffee shops have been the meeting points for social revolutions (did you know that’s how the RSA came about? The RSA was founded by William Shipley in 1754 with the first meeting being held at Rawthmell’s Coffee House in Covent Garden, London). So it works on many levels, both artistic and for business.
Visit Home of Honest Coffee
Based on 77-79 Chapel Street, M3 5BZ, we’re on the border of Manchester and Salford, a 3 minute walk from Manchester Cathedral and 5 minutes from trams and trains at Victoria Train Station. £5 all day carparks are on our doorstep, too. Find us on the map here.
I personally invite you to visit us and eat, drink and host events with us, whether it’s a meeting, workshop, public or private event - we can cater for you too. For more information and to book space, please e-mail our team at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also welcome anybody who might like to discuss setting up a Home of Honest Coffee in your town to get in touch. Second time round will be a much simpler process… so let’s do this!
The official launch will take place in early September. For more details, head to http://www.futureartists.co.uk and watch our short video introducing the Home of Honest Coffee space.
For regular updates and information about events, follow us on twitter @Honest_Coffee