Business group is an informal success

Informal Friday members celebrate at Bistro 4.
Informal Friday members celebrate at Bistro 4.

A NETWORKING club for South Tyneside small businesses has clocked up its first birthday.

Informal Friday was launched last year by East Boldon businesswoman Joanne Luther, for both new businesses and established home-based/sole traders and micro businesses, looking for support and networking opportunities.

Members meet on the last Friday of each month from 9am to 11am, at No.4 Cafe Bistro, in Station Road, East Boldon.

Joanne, who launched her community consultation consultancy Luther Communities in 2012 after a decade working in local government, said: “Setting up in business for the first time I felt alone and isolated, worried about how I would get my company on to the radar, how to set up accounts, invoicing, drawing-up terms and conditions – all the usual things new businesses have to grapple with.

“The idea behind Informal Friday was to hold a regular event with a relaxed feel where people setting out for the first time in business could share their experiences, and receive help and advice.

“But it was also designed to give established small businesses the opportunity to network and potentially meet new clients.”

The monthly event has proved a hit, with up to 20 businesses attending each meeting.

Holistic therapist Yvonne Bruce, who runs Try Therapy in Seaburn, said: “I enjoy coming along to Informal Friday as it has a very relaxed atmosphere, has enabled me to expand my range of contacts, and made networking a pleasure.”

Membership has grown by word of mouth and the use of social media, including Twitter and Facebook.

Other attendees have included website developers, photographers, jewellery makers, HR professionals, PR consultants and three South Tyneside councillors.

Members marked the first anniversary with a celebratory cake supplied by No.4.

“We always welcome new members, who can either just drop in or contact us in advance via our Facebook page at or by emailing,” said Joanne.

“Our next meeting is on Friday February 27.”