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May 3, 2019

Introducing C81 – Meet Phoebe

After kicking off with Simon, we meet Chapter 81's Copywriter Phoebe in the second blog in the series

Introducing C81 – Meet Phoebe Introducing C81 – Meet Phoebe
Words by: Phoebe Ryan

Q: Describe yourself in a couple of sentences.

A massive foodie (legit term for someone who is always hungry? I say yes), I used to blog about all things edible around this fab city, but haven’t had time since I created a spawn two years ago. I moved to the middle of nowhere (Cumbria) and mostly work at Chapter 81 for the excuse to return to my favourite city every few weeks. Tech is not my strong point. Any tech innovation seeks directly to malign me.

Q: What’s been your professional journey so far?

I graduated with a First in English Literature from Leeds Uni in 2013. I fell in love with Leeds, and also spent a year living in Venice, another place so close to my heart. I worked for a couple of years at dismal agencies (no qualms. They were COMPLETELY dismal) and decided that however highly I’d tried, and achieved, in my education, it was all a ploy, and life was a conspiracy to get me into terrible, mundane, irrelevant workspaces. I spent a lot of my time writing my food blog, The Edible Woman, which was one way I kept my passion for writing alive (because work was causing it a slow and painful death). After a couple of years I bowed out, back into the cosy world of academia, for an MA.

Whilst doing my Master’s I worked at the biggest Caribbean and BAME publishers in the world (I think it still is), Peepal Tree Press (ironically situated right here in Leeds!), and also started freelancing. I continued pestering Simon (who I’d been chatting to at foodie events for a while). I took up other freelance work, wrote my Master’s dissertation and got pregnant. By then I was a flexible fixture in the I Like Press office. I’ve been hanging about ever since, and got even more involved when we morphed into Chapter 81.

I now work from home most of the time, in Cumbria – part-time as a copywriter, part-time as a floral events designer for my brand Pollendine’s, and part-time looking after my ridiculously energetic son.

Q: What other work do you do?

Predominantly I divide my time between Chapter 81, Pollendine’s, and mum-ing, but I also do individual freelance copy, editing and proof jobs, arrange events for companies, and generally anything that comes up, whether I’m qualified for it or nay,  as I have an inability to say no and the knowledge that most things are possible if you get your research down.

Q: Why work for Chapter 81?

Predominantly because I absolutely bloody love good food, and that’s always been a huge focus! But it’s not the only reason. I know that Simon cares so much about this city and its businesses, as well as (over!)working in an ethical, transparent way.

In the first agencies I worked for, I felt like the unspoken aim was to pull the wool over the client’s eyes, fleecing them for as much money as possible. The brands were big, our impact was not only small and irrelevant but, I felt, negative. I know that with Simon, we work bloody hard. We do the best we can do, we go above and beyond, and it’s all predominantly to help small, independent businesses doing their best to be amazing and improve the city for everyone. So yeah I work here because I need to be proud of the work I’m doing. And I’m massively proud of who we are and what we do.

Q: How did working with Chapter 81 come about?

Simon invited me to events as a food blogger back in the day, and decided he liked the cut of my jib. I’m not sure what that means. I slowly started doing bits here and there, and I’ve been knocking about ever since.

Q: What do you do at Chapter 81?

A bit of everything. I work across the board, on whatever needs words. From the Leeds Indie Food mag to the Leeds International Festival site to various press releases, blogs, newsletters and website rewrites, I’m usually the fingers on the keyboard (but if you notice an error, Miz wrote this).

Q: Where do you hope to see Chapter 81 in the future?

I’d like to see us supporting even more amazing food and drink indies in the city, but also more initiatives like Leeds International Festival, which just brings such exciting events to Leeds. When small businesses are doing something out-there and unique, it’s such fun to work with them. I also hope we can continue to cherish and grow Leeds Indie Food.

Q: What’s to love about Leeds?

Leeds city centre was home to me for a decade. It’s the city I chose to go to university in (twice), and was the first place (away from my parents’ home) that I called ‘home’. It’s the best city in the UK for me. I love London, but Leeds has a lot of the excitement and innovation, on an almost neighbourhood-size scale. It’s possible to know almost everything exciting that’s going on in your particular sphere of interest, if you go out there and put your ear to the ground.

Q: What does the future hold for Leeds’ food, drink & lifestyle sectors?

I can only hope that the indies keep coming up and showing their quality. I think it’s time we got even more exciting fancy places in Leeds, too – Michael O’Hare is just the first of a run of deserving Michelin-standard restaurants in Leeds.

Q: Tell us a weird fact about you

I’m inordinately chuffed to be half Irish (not weird) but don’t much like Guinness (weird). I’m also sure I have a wealth of weirdness that I just can’t remember right now.


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