B.Hive is an office space like no other. The cream carpets, delicate, whitewashed furniture and inspirational quotes etched in gold across the walls make the venue feel more like the angel's waiting room outside the pearly gates than a hive of industry. But the cool, calm surroundings belie the hard work that goes on within.
"There's been a real increase in the number of women starting businesses," said Franks in her welcome speech. "They are looking for a networking space and a place to work that compliments their work habits. I'm amazed someone hasn't done this before! And this has become a truly lovely space: tranquil and inspiring. The only stressed person you'll find here is me!"
Franks launched B.Hive in September 2010. It's been a real labour of love: she knows all her members by name and consistently name-checks and promotes the B.Hive member businesses in her writing and public appearances.
And these firms are worth shouting about. Take Peachy Pink, the underwear firm launched by Shazia Awan and Piush Soni with the noble aim of banishing cellulite forever. The range is currently stocked by Debenhams and House of Fraser and boasts Peter Andre as the face of its menswear line.
Then there's Trinket Women. Founded by Genevieve Murphy and Kate Barry, this range of natural cotton tampons may be a blush-worthy topic at dinner parties - not so here. Interested business women are pulling out their sanitary products left, right and centre, discussing the merits of cotton over synthetics.
Franks suggested an ice-breaker to get all the guests chatting: everyone had to introduce themselves and their business. It went down a treat. One entrepreneur, Jasmine King, founder of vintage, handmade retailer JK Keepsake announced that she needs a part-time job to help her plough money into her growing business. Lo and behold, several business cards were passed her way. Lynne Parker, boss of Funny Women, was exhorted to "Tell a joke!" by the crowd. "Occupational hazard," she laughed.
Hela Wozniak-Kay refused to reveal any details about her business, Sister Snog. "It's an undergournd movement," she said. Everyone was instantly intrigued. Wozniak-Kay's business club for 'smart, sassy women' is a unique proposition. "We have 150 members, all based within the M25," she revealed. "We're not a networking group. I hate that word. We're more 'tell' than 'sell'."
The atmosphere at the event was electric. The passion and enthusiasm demonstrated by the entrepreneurs was infectious. As founding B.Hive member and Lady Mayoress of Camden Amy Lame summarised: "This space is a fantastic support for businesswomen. It's been perfect, as a creative, to be based in a place like this. The temptation when you're working from home is just to stay in your pyjamas all day. That's why B.Hive is so brilliant. The other women egg you on to get up, put your make-up on and be productive. The vibe is very positive. Thank you for creating this thing, Lynne!"
We do hope that Smarta is invited back soon.