Interview with Katy Murray from Tring Buzz

Find out how a chance coffee with a friend led mum Katy Murray to a life-changing decision – and the birth of Tring Buzz!

What’s your career background?

When I talk about this in any detail I feel like I’ve actually led a few different lives! To cut a long story short my main career has been footwear for about 15 years now.

I’m a Technologist which is a quality and manufacturing expert working within retailers or suppliers. I’ve worked for many companies, including ASOS, Monsoon and Miss Selfridge.

How did your career change when you had children?

Obviously your priorities change when you start a family. But the essential requirement to make money doesn’t.

Although like a lot of women I dreamt of that perfect flexible business nothing was ever obvious to me and I’ve had to stick with exhausting process of working, commuting and running a family.

It wasn’t until nearly six years later when on maternity leave with my second child that a chance coffee with a friend and fellow mum set in motion a thought process that eventually led to a life-changing decision.

What prompted your move to Tring from London?

My partner and I had wanted to buy a house together in trendy Stoke Newington where we lived at the time. Unfortunately, as is often the case, wider processes took over – the housing crash happened and we were unable to sell up.

After months of stress we decided that we needed to space to relax. It seemed a great idea to move somewhere further out and rent. I literally spotted Tring on the trainline to Euston, where I worked at the time and we just popped along on spec!

What do you love about Tring?

For me Tring is perfect. We’re literally in the most beautiful countryside – the Chiltern Hills – and yet we have a buzzy little town with the perfect balance of independent shops, bars and restaurants.

I think its small enough to feel like part of a community but big enough to be able to walk around without everyone knowing your business (until I got on social media that is!)

How soon did you adjust to the change of lifestyle in a small town?

We loved it from the beginning there was no contest. Initially there were only a few places to eat out, which at the time was frustrating, but there are new places opening all the time and its starting to feel more up to date.

I’ll be honest there have been a few occasions when I could really have done with a nightclub but then its the peace and quiet we love really. I just have to save myself for Chilfest, the big 80s music festival we have every year! I have all my parties at once then.

Why did you decide to train as a social media manager?

So back to that coffee…! Second child and again I dreamed of that killer business. The realities of bringing in the cash were even more pressing with double the childcare bill.

A friend told me about her idea to retrain as a social media manager to get herself back into work. It took about 24 hours for it to sink in that it was a brilliant idea and then another 24 that this is what I needed to do!

And what are your plans afterwards?

I’m very nearly finished with the course. My goodness – it’s been one hell of a ride!  With the course I’ve done we run a local grassroots campaign, mine – Tring Buzz focuses on trying to create community for businesses and freelancers.

Its become a bit of a medium to celebrate all the amazing independent businesses and business people we’re lucky to have in Tring. I absolutely loved every minute of it. I’m completely hooked.

If you told me at the beginning some of the things that would happen to me along the way I would never have believed you! Obviously being tracked down by the fabulous Talented Ladies Club for an interview is among the highlights!

What happens next?

I can’t bear to wind up Tring Buzz. I really have been overwhelmed with positive feedback. To keep it going however it really has to fund itself (I currently spend about 14 hours a week on it!)

The answer I hope is to flow all my social media channels in to a website where local businesses can advertise for a reasonable price. I genuinely want to do something to help and support local businesses and have built up so much knowledge of them in the campaign I really need to put it to use.

Of course I’m also about to be a qualified social media manager. I’ve made some brilliant contacts throughout the campaign so I’m sure it won’t be difficult to build something up.

I’ve started with a client already, but to really take on much more the day job will have to take a backseat. A lot of juggling before I’m settled, but its all so positive and just so wonderful to have options!

Who are you favourite Tring businesses, and why?

This is too difficult a question to answer as there are so many and I don’t want to leave any out. But I will mention Matthew Bishop Photography who did my incredible business photos, and I’m hugely grateful giving me this incredible image to launch my new career.

Why are small businesses important?

Small businesses are essential as the they add colour and vibrancy to our towns and cities. Without them our lives would be a sea of boring.

How can we best support our local businesses?

In spite of what I do, I work (a lot) so I do shop online and use supermarkets, but its a case of just do what you can to support local. Seek out the independents and even if you only shop there occasionally, it all helps. It also enriches your life by drawing you in to the local community.

What are your top three tips for local businesses? How can they differentiate from large chains and grow a local fan base?

  1. Be different – people need to have a reason to go to you. Make it your brand.
  2. Be helpful – the customer is savvy and will not put up with poor customer service.
  3. Invest in great social media – the brilliant thing about social media is it puts you directly in touch with your audience. The downside is its very easy to give a poor image of your business. Seek advice and do it properly.

You can find out more about Tring Buzz on their website, and follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.