Leeds-based food and lifestyle collective, Chapter 81, has recently moved into a new city centre office where they now have the capacity to bring more services in-house, offering new and existing clients additional support.

The move to Cross York Street comes after a successful few months where the collective won new business with workspace designer, Building Interiors, and launched an online directory of Leeds’ burgeoning indie businesses, called ‘Support Your Local Indie Scene’. With the addition of an online shop, stocking supplies from local indies, they have used lockdown as a time to reflect on, and expand, their capabilities which now include videography, motion graphics and photography within their new visual team.

Speaking about the news, founder Simon Fogal, said: “It’s a very exciting time for Chapter 81. Whilst we have felt the pinch of each lockdown due to working with predominantly hospitality brands, we have been able to branch out and are delighted to be working with Building Interiors, offering them our full service package which includes digital, PR, film and photography.

“The new office means we can build on the visual side of our business as we have a lot more space to play with. We hope this encourages more companies to approach us to find out how we can help them to really amplify their business message. Our passion for Leeds’ independent scene means that we have continued to support indies throughout lockdown, with social media, PR and comms support, helping them to feel confident and prepared for when they are able to reopen their venues.”

As well as sponsoring the Coffee Shop North book that features 6 independent coffee shops in Leeds, and forms part of a regional series of books, Simon and his team are spending time working on a scheme to boost mental health support for people within the hospitality industry - something that has been distinctly lacking throughout lockdown. A proportion of sales from their limited edition Chapter 81 merchandise will be donated to the Ground Up Project, a new initiative providing free and subsidised Mental Health First Aid England accredited qualifications to the Leeds Hospitality and creative sectors.

Andrew Critchett, founder of The Ground Up Project, said: “It’s great to have the support of Chapter 81 at this crucial time. This project is so important to independent businesses and the hospitality sector, in particular. There has been no focus on mental health support during the entirety of the pandemic and yet this is one of the hardest hit sectors. I’m hopeful that this money will enable more people to have their mental wellbeing boosted and will provide on-going support throughout this final lockdown and beyond. Getting the hospitality sector thriving again is vital.”

Made up of freelancers, each bringing a different specialism to the mix, Chapter 81 prefers to refer to itself as a ‘collective’ rather than an agency because it provides full service ability, with a flexible approach and now boasts 8 members. The most recent appointment is Mia Hodgkinson, a copywriter with a background in PR and media relations who joined the collective in November 2020. Also new to the collective is Adam Webb, a videographer and motion graphics specialist; Larry Budd, journalist and comedian who supports the collective on the Welcome to Leeds account and Matthew Slater, the driving force behind Leeds indie hampers and a business development specialist who has been brought in to help grow the client base this year.

They are optimistic that their combined expertise will encourage more clients to seek out their support this year as well as continuing to support existing clients within the hospitality sector, preparing them for re-opening. With the rollout of the vaccine, they are hopeful this will be sooner, rather than later, with many indie events still planned for SS21.

Simon continued: “Whilst this past year has been the toughest ever for independent businesses, and the hospitality sector in particular, we know that better times lie ahead. The addition of new members within the collective is just another indication of how far we have come. We’ve been working with LeedsBID to create a series of short films called ‘Welcome to Leeds’ that showcase our incredible city and its people. The resilience of the people living here has been amazing, especially those who own indie businesses. We are so proud to have been involved in this project, offering hope and building excitement about getting back to some of the best things about the city.”

“The coming months will undoubtedly continue to be challenging, however overall we are feeling positive at Chapter 81 and our immediate focus is to build our client base even further, alongside ensuring indies come out of this pandemic unscathed. We look forward to getting our much-loved food and drink festivals, including Eat North, Leeds Indie Food and Chow Down, back up and running. These events ensure independents get noticed, earn money and can hire staff, all of which boosts the local economy. I’m really pleased that the collective talent at Chapter 81 means that we can forge ahead again, doing what we love, getting results that make a real difference to so many people.”