Keeping in the LOOP

Helen and Michelle

The New Year promises new opportunities for personal growth and wellbeing for Derbyshire women running their own businesses and creative projects, as Fiona Stubbs discovers.

NEW YEAR, NEW YOU?  It’s a familiar feeling as a new year dawns and plans abound to be healthier and happier in the months ahead.  

It’s a time for reflection and resolution – not least for those running their own business. Now, female business owners are being offered a helping hand through a new retreat – Recharge and Rise – designed for women seeking ‘respite, connection and growth’.

It is organised by the Loop Collective, a community of women supporting each other in growing their small businesses and creative projects.

Loop was launched a year ago by Chesterfield-based business branding photographer Helen Rowan and Michelle Leeder, a therapist and wellbeing practitioner who works exclusively with women.

Michelle says: “The business retreat has been curated as an investment in professional and personal wellbeing, with thought-provoking workshops led by inspiring women and a chance to make meaningful connections with like-minded individuals.

“The day will be the perfect opportunity to nourish ourselves, enjoy good company and good food.”

Recharge and Rise is on Friday, March 15 and will be hosted in the tranquil setting of Lorentes restaurant, Darley Abbey, renowned for its tapas cuisine.

Michelle adds: “It will feel like a sanctuary at the end of a busy week. We are inviting women to come along and enjoy an amazing opportunity to discover more about themselves, feel that they have learned something that will support them in their business and be part of a community dedicated to supporting each other on the journey to success.”

Helen and Michelle launched the Loop Collective after realising that other women, like themselves, may be looking for an alternative to traditional business networking.

Michelle explains:  “We wanted a group that was different to everything else, that didn’t feel like ‘selling’ networking. We quite intentionally created something that reflected us – and that we wanted to be a part of.

“There was a sense of ‘we need this’. Where are these women who need a community? Let’s get them together.”

Informal Loop networking sessions are generally held every other month, with a guest speaker or speakers, covering relevant subjects which have so far ranged from business strategies to social media marketing, career change to creative pursuits, menopause and chronic fatigue.  

There are occasional in-person catch ups in-between and regular dialogues via Instagram and WhatsApp. It’s a nurturing, supportive space where members feel comfortable to share and to seek advice on any aspect of their lives, from business success and challenges to family matters and everyday practicalities.

Helen says: “Loop is a wonderful community where everyone can be open and ‘themselves’. In our businesses, Michelle and I both help women to open up and feel comfortable and Loop operates in a similar way. It’s grown organically.”

Michelle adds: “We want to create a community to inspire women and cheer each other on. There’s space for everyone – we’re not in competition with each other.”

Michelle and Helen met as mums through their children’s school in Chesterfield. They became friends after Helen took branding photographs for Michelle’s therapy practice – and the ideas for Loop developed from there.

“When I had my photos taken, I was incredibly nervous,” recalls Michelle. “But Helen was so easy to work with. She really put me at ease. 

“I already admired her work and her ethos of photographing women, which fitted well with my own approach for my therapy practice.”

Discussing the ‘busyness’ of their lives, they quickly realised that other women would also be experiencing the daily juggle of running their own businesses and other life tasks. 

Michelle says:  “We already give the best of ourselves in our businesses – but are we overlooking our own selves as we invest in our work and everything else going on in our lives? That’s why we set up Loop – and the business retreat will build on this, too.

“It’s a women’s business event but with a nod towards wellness. It’s a treat – we are all really busy, but we deserve to do this. 

“It’s about investing in yourself, learning and growth. It’s a ‘pause moment’ and, perhaps, a chance to find a sense of community for those who haven’t yet found theirs.” 

Editor’s Note: Learn more about Loop Collective and the Recharge
Rise retreat at: 

Tickets to the retreat will be limited, and booking details can also be found