With women-only networking groups on the rise, we talk to the businesswoman behind Mayfair restaurant Jamavar’s successful club on how it can benefit female professionals
Why did you decide to set up Jamavar Women’s Club?
I wanted to have a monthly meeting of minds where women in the area have a chance to meet like-minded people and have somewhere in the area to go to do it. Mayfair is known for its gentlemen's clubs so Jamavar
Women’s Club is the perfect antidote to that.
Talk us through the usual structure of one of your events
We take over the ground floor of the restaurant, which can seat up to 32 guests with people arriving between 6pm and 7pm for drinks and canapés. This is the ideal chance for them to network before myself and that month’s guest speaker take to the stage. My guest and I will talk for 20 minutes before I open up the floor for 20 minutes of questions. Then, we serve a three-course dinner.
How do you choose your speakers?
Ultimately, they are women who inspire me. They come from a variety of backgrounds, from the likes of hospitality, sport
and design. I’m keen to involved women whose work fascinates me and if I’m inspired by them, I hope that our guests will be too.
What types of women do you have coming to your events?
We have a diverse mix of women. A lot are local to the area but we also have guests come from other parts of the city. They’re not all corporate either and we get a lot of guests who came to the first events gradually come back with their own group of women. It’s so encouraging to see how women get excited to talk about both success and failure in such an intimate setting.
What are the benefits of having networking events primarily for women?
I come from a family of matriarchs so the principal of having women-focused events is the norm. I think it’s incredible for women to have somewhere where they don’t feel alone in their day-to-day experiences. Having a place to go and network with an interesting bunch of women, generate meetings (and friendships too) is something people are starting to experience more and more, which is wonderful. Walking into a room of only women can sometimes actually be more intimidating than walking into one with mostly men, but I hope the way we organise the event makes it not intimidating at all.
Do you think businesses should use women-only concepts for meetings and conferences?
I do think it’s important for men and women to interact in professional settings. A mix of genders in meetings can be really beneficial. I would never say a business should use this concept, but if it comes instinctively then yes, I believe it can be useful – it’s certainly been beneficial to us, as a company.
Where do you see the future of Jamavar Women’s Club?
For now, I like how intimate the whole experience is as it means that I can personally chat with everyone on a one-on-one level. Maybe one day we will open our events up to larger groups of women. For the time being though, I truly believe that these types of experiences are best done on a small scale – it allows for more personal interaction.