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  • Writer's pictureCommunity Bridges

Welcome to Space @ 61 | Blank Canvas to One's Own Imagination!

Have you ever put your heart and soul into a business idea or concept, including your life savings only to find that no matter how hard you work or how passionate you are about your business; it simply isn’t going to work?

That’s what local entrepreneur Shona Chambers experienced when she ventured into the world of start-ups.

Being self-employed and running your own business is no easy feat, I should know. I embarked on my journey of self-employment back in 2009, which I initially found daunting because I had worked in corporate for 15 years; I became somewhat institutionalised. Making this career choice change, I wanted to control my time and destiny, so I quickly got used to the time I had created for myself and forged ahead. Time is such a precious commodity, and once spent you cannot get it back; it was important for me to control how I spent it.

Shona’s own self-employment journey began in 2011, it’s something that she’s wanted to do for a long time, so with a leap of faith and possessing a bucket load of tenacity, Shona left her comfy corporate job to pursue her true passion of running her own business. Shona believes becoming self-employed isn’t a lifestyle choice. “It isn’t sitting around drinking coffee on your laptop somewhere glam. It’s feeling so passionate about shaping your own life that you’d rather tough it out on your own than take a pay cheque every month”.

Before establishing Space @ 61 as a hireable space in high demand, Shona ran a family friendly café/ deli welcoming all in the community. The café/ deli was the first of its kind, in an area of Peckham that was showing signs of huge growth with young families; due to the popular interest in Ivydale Primary school in SE15. So, naturally one would expect a family friendly business such as Shona’s, which she refers to as her ‘Plan A’; would have a good turn-over of clientele. This wasn’t the case however, and after three years, Shona had to make the hard decision to shut down the café/deli.

What was to become of the commercial space Shona owned? Depending on how you look at life, whether you’re a glass half empty or a glass half full; a failed business can feel like a hard blow, or an opportunity to re-evaluate your business model to meet the demands of a new customer base.

Shona’s background in marketing, within media and financial services industry, has given her the foundation she needed to expand her network and find a viable solution to what was potentially becoming financially problematic.

Shona remembers talking with a friend and local resident, also an entrepreneur, who advised her not to quit entirely with the venture, but instead try something different with the space. “I hadn’t considered that at all, but as soon as I did my mind started whirling with thoughts of what else I could do”.

Introducing Shona’s ‘Plan B’; business start-up, Space @ 61.

“Space @ 61 is quite simply a space at 61 Cheltenham Road, SE15. It’s a space for everyone and everything”. Many a pop-ups have used this space, from dining experiences to art exhibitions, photoshoots, fairs, charity events, birthday celebrations, weekly programmes such as Ballet classes; you name it, Space @ 61 has hosted them. This time round the business model has ticked all the proverbial boxes. The space is for anyone needing a nice neutral spot for a few hours, whether to celebrate or to conduct business in. “Think of Space @ 61 as an Airbnb for business use”. If there were ever a list of ideas I wished I came up with, this would probably be high up on that list.

Knowing Shona for a few years now, after attending many of her first Friday of the month networking sessions, it’s clear that Shona is all about supporting other business start-ups in a collaborative way. “You have to work with others. They say ‘if you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far, go together’; together is where the ideas begin”.

Can setting up your own business be too risky?

There are definitely many risks in setting up your own business, but there are many rewards too that can often outweigh the amount of risks involved. Many of the renowned and successful entrepreneurs we know of today have shared in their own words that they have failed countless businesses before succeeding with a business model that is far stronger than all the failed ones put together; it’s as though it is the underpinning to making a business successful.

Three tips Shona would like to share when considering going down the entrepreneur route:

1. Take constant action towards your goals every day. Send an email to someone you think can help you. Think big, but take small steps in the right direction. By training your mind to keep thinking of new actions you are strengthening yourself bit by bit.

2. Attend events where you can meet the right kinds of people who can help you.

3. Network up and across, someone higher up may help you now, but growing your peer to peer network may help you in 10 years time, as you rise together.

Community is certainly where Shona’s heart is, you only have to take a look at the networking platforms she has created across all social media, as well as meet-up groups to ensure that your transition from employee to self-employment is as smooth as possible.


To hire Space @ 61 or attend any of the events, call or email:

07466 443 681/



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