Stuck in a Barn with… Anna Jones: The Cotswold Connection

Following a busy day running social media workshops, you’ve gone for a stroll, taken in the Cotswolds’ view and decided to have a little snooze in a comfy barn, but when you wake up the door is jammed. Eek what to do?… Answer our nosey questions of course:

So Anna, who would be the first person you’d want to ring once you’d realised the barn door is shut?

It would have to be my hubby, Martin.  He’s probably the calmer, more logical one! Although it wouldn’t be him getting the door open as he’s shocking at anything DIY related 🤣

You’re trying not to panic so to change the subject…where did the idea for The Cotswold Connection come from?

Well, I have always loved exploring wherever I have lived in the UK or abroad.  I love seeking out new places to try so friends and family often tend to ask me, where would you go for x, y or z. Basically anything from places where people could stay, because friends couldn’t all fit in at their place, to a great Sunday roast! In October 2017, I stumbled across something called Digital Mums. If you haven’t heard of them, they are all about flexible work for mums and social media management training.

At the time I was doing some freelance marketing and as I started to get a couple of clients I noticed the demand for social media marketing was increasing. Something I didn’t know much about, so I decided to enrol on this six month course. What I loved about this course was that you had lots of hands on learning, plus you had to run your own campaign. A community campaign on something you are passionate about! This is when I decided I would showcase the very best #cotswoldgems, focusing on venues and events. I completed the course last August and due to the success of the campaign, venues started approaching me and I hand-picked some I would love to work with.

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So I kept my own campaign alive but also manage and support other business owners to build their awareness through social media. I love what I do as they are all very varied and all have something very unique about them. Many of them are start ups, so I enjoy sharing ideas, strategising and seeing results! It has never just been about venues, I also covered great events but think there is huge opportunity for more. I have lots of ideas and hope to launch some exciting ones in the next year.

What songs are you singing to while away the time?

‘I’ve gotta feeling’ by the Black Eyed Peas, reminds me of lots of fun times, and I love to dance something I don’t get to do as much anymore.

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What makes you laugh?

At the moment my daughter, she is a little comedian, very cheeky but super funny.

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Which one of your #cotswoldgems are you planning on visiting when you’re out?

The Bell in Sapperton for a delicious gin and tonic and a yummy feast. They never disappoint.

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What’s your first delicious item of food going to be when you’re free? Where will you get it from?

A Jolly Nice ice cream, I love that place. Ice cream and then maybe a bacon butty, depends how long I was in there.

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Where would be your favourite place to stay in the Cotswolds, if you weren’t sleeping on a bale of hay?

I would probably say no131 in Cheltenham. I love their style, dreamy regency building plus it has the buzzy Crazy Eights for a few cocktails and delicious food. Oh and the town location means I could get a bit of shopping done too!

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You were an area manager in retail for several years.  What were you doing and where were you living before you settled in the Cotswolds?

I sure was, I worked for two of the biggest uk retailers, mainly in my favourite city in the world, London. I loved working in the flagships at M&S as a commercial floor manager and then Oxford Circus TOPSHOP running the operations as an area manager covering Selfridges too. Both amazing stores. The area manager role’s highlight was store openings though! But when my husband got asked to go to India with work we jumped at the opportunity. I tried to work there but when I got offered the head of retail crocs India, I was thrilled until they told me it was 6 days a week and for less than £20k. I decided to help charities and also helped set up an amazing expat community called the Gurgaon Connection. It was amazing!!

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One of the many highlights, other than the travelling and friends we made, was having our son out there. We came back and Martin changed jobs and to cut a long story short Cirencester was commutable to his role. We’d never been here before but saw our house and moved in six weeks! I’m a city girl at heart but love living here.

What are your immediate plans as soon as the barn door is open? Any hobbies you’re going to take up?

Um hobbies, I hate being trapped in one place so I think I would continue with the running!

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Where would you recommend anyone wanting to go for a drink and great view of the Cotswolds?

I love The Painswick, the place is uber stylish has amazing views and the cutest bar to pick up a drink before heading to their terrace to take in the view.  The whole village is stunning and there are some fab gems there including Rococo Gardens, the fabric shop as well as a couple of other great places to eat and drink!

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What tips would you give anyone planning on starting their own business who may not have ever used social media before?

Be social, don’t just think of social media as a way of broadcasting your news, products and services, it’s about building relationships with potential customers and giving them reasons to keep following you. So share useful information, some personality to your brand including the people and keep the sales part to a minimum.  It’s such a fantastic way to network with other like minded people and business owners and a lot less daunting than the traditional way. So use it that way. It is just as vital if not more so to be engaging in other people’s content, rather than just your own!

What are you doing for rest of the summer….once you’ve got out of that barn of course.

Oh well there are some amazing summer events here, such as Giffords Circus, which has become a bit of a family tradition, as well as the festivals. I love my holidays so this year we went to France for a big reunion with families I used to holiday with when I was a child, I’ve not been in years so I was really looking forward to that. Otherwise I’ll be making the most of the garden and hoping the sun we have recently had continues.

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For more information about Anna’s Power Hour sessions (next one on 6th September) see here.  Places are limited so don’t dilly dally!

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