Manchester’s much anticipated co-working concept, Work.Life has recently opened near King Street, Deansgate. Karina Jadhav opened the first week with an inspirational speaking event. An award winning company, the exciting and innovative space promises to be the city’s hottest working destination, already boasting Dr. Martens and MTV as members at locations elsewhere.
In celebration of the launch, Work.Life invited some of the city’s most promising start-up companies and young entrepreneurs to join Manchester’s most admired impresarios at speaking events, held across three dates.
The first was led by Karina Jadhav; female entrepreneur and Founder of one of Manchester’s most loved venues, Menagerie. As the North West’s youngest independent female Restaurant Operator and Owner, she founded her current concept two years ago, in August 2016.
Karina is also the former co-founder and creator of Neighbourhood, Victors Hale and Southern Eleven. Now with Menagerie, her latest venture explores and merges themes of gastronomy, art and performance, whilst also seeking to introduce the next level of immersive concept dining in the North West.
Speaking to Nina Sawetz (Founder and MD at Future PR), Karina Jadhav first touches on her history with Living Ventures, describing her work there as the North West’s first ‘vibrant dining concept’. When asked how it all began, Karina shared her story of starting out as a journalist, working in TV and radio, with a contract as a researcher and floor manager, “Working at Granada taught me to step out of my comfort zone and helped me to learn how to talk to people”.
She also divulged a little into her experiences at university, where she studied drama at Manchester University, “I sometimes laugh, because my mum always said that whatever I studied at uni would have nothing to do with my actual career. Now I use drama all the time, as my marketing strategy involves a lot of theatrics – especially with using Instagram TV”.
While working as a journalist, Karina found herself gradually helping her partner at the time, who had just set up his own business. She explained a little about how he implemented supermarket techniques to his own franchise, while Karina worked on the marketing side, before eventually stepping into the job pretty much full-time, “I ended up learning to work the till… working everything really. I really got involved, and loved the immediacy of sales. I found it really exciting and it was nice to see such instant results. I knew I could drive sales, and that was really rewarding to me. I was constantly pushing marketing and for those sales – it was totally liberating. I guess that was kind of the start of my career in hospitality; after 6 months I’d completely left journalism and went from there”.
Karina described her experiences working with her partner on the business in Manchester Arndale, and revealed their realisation that if they could do counter service, they could grow into casual dining, “Every day was a challenge, but you’ll never know anything until you go along with it”.
Embarking on their next endeavour with a slightly failed burger concept, Karina Jadhav discloses that they took the original unit and made Neighbourhood instead; “For me, this was the start of vibrant dining. We took this concept and replicated it across the Living Ventures brand, into Victors, for example”.
Speaking of the pain surrounding her divorce, Karina exposes, “After the divorce, I had to leave 10 years behind me. My business was my rock and it was pulled out from beneath me… so Menagerie was about pulling a lot more experience into something with more finesse”.
Built on drama and decadent theatrics, Karina drew on her experiences (in both work and life) to create Menagerie. Perhaps the most relateable response of all, Karina explained, “You think every negative thing you go through is the worst thing ever – then something else happens and you realise that actually, your first experience may have been a walk in the park”.
Describing Menagerie as her biggest learning curve, Karina shares, “I’ve learned that my job is actually to be a problem solver, and to always expect problems. I’ve also learned not to react emotionally to things. At times, you can feel lost… It’s just about having the mental strength to cope and find yourself back to your end goal”.
When asked for her soundest piece of advice to pass on to a budding entrepreneur, Karina looks back on her biggest success with Menagerie, “We continue to evolve. With the pace in which the world is constantly evolving, it’s so important to keep up, to always think differently and to pull in influence and experience from different industries”.
Turning the conversation to a female steer, Nina remarks on the worrying difficulty to experienced when looking for female entrepreneurs to invite to the Work.Life event that evening. Karina has previously spoken out about how frustrating it can be to work in such a male dominated industry, and agrees it can often feel like an issue, but says, “I hate to be the person to say it’s more difficult to be a business woman, because it simply shouldn’t be. I’ve genuinely found it very hard to accept this, but at the same time, I have to confess I find it difficult to get certain characters to listen to me sometimes. But that’s life, and you could say that about many things. I don’t like to rely on my sex as an issue”. To counteract these scenarios or potential difficulties encountered in business, she continues, “I’ve been through phases where I may have been more aggressive than I should have been. You just need to be clear and to the point. Have the courage of conviction.”
Following from Karina’s ‘get on board with me or don’t be involved at all’ mentality, Nina asked her to elaborate on the quote featured on the Work.Life wall, as inspired by Karina herself.
‘All we have is now.’
Karina smiles, “This is actually a quote from Menagerie. When we were going through the original fitting, I had this moment when I thought – this is it. It’s make or break for me now. I think this quote really highlights where I was emotionally at the time of the restaurant’s conception. In my head, I knew and I could feel what Menagerie was going to look like. I thought about it 24/7. I’m actually a big believer that if you can’t visualise something, it probably isn’t going to happen”.
Attributing a portion of her own success to the teachings of Tim Bacon, the genius behind Living Ventures, Australasia and Artisan, Karina remembers some of the advice he had given her, “He was so creative and inspirational. I owe a lot to everything I learned from him. He taught me that confidence is the biggest corporate aphrodisiac.”
Since its inception, Menagerie has garnered international attention for hosting a collection of stellar occasions, including a Christmas party for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City’s first team, as well as events for the likes of singer Perrie Edwards of Little Mix, singer actor Justin Timberlake, and actor comedian Kevin Hart. It also sets the scene for The Real Housewives of Cheshire.
Menagerie won Best Newcomer at the EAT SLEEP DRINK AWARDS of 2016, and Karina was also voted Entrepreneur of the Year at the Manchester Downtown in Business Awards of 2015.
As for Work.Life, the space is open for free hotdesking from Monday 26th to Friday 30th. Housing 300 members, the 12,500 sq ft space offers three exciting levels of membership area. In addition to a packed events schedule, including weekly yoga classes, beer and pizza nights, ‘lunch and learns’, and plenty of networking socials, Work.Life members can also benefit from bike storage and a pet friendly policy.