Quite often on Instagram I mention In Colourful Company and their "Colour Walks" and more often than not someone will message me asking more about them. This made me think that perhaps I should put together a little guide about the In Colourful Company Colour Walks and why I love them so much! I'm hosting the second London Colour Walk in July with a couple of my pals, so keep an eye out for more details about that at the end.
What is In Colourful Company?
In Colourful Company is a community started by illustrator Toni Bee, who wanted to find more like-minded friends, get out of her house (where she works) and meet her internet friends IRL. Here's an extract from an interview I did with Toni for Lucky Dip Club:
"We’re full of creative people but people from all backgrounds are welcome. Our main ethos is encouragement, kindness and adventure. In Colourful Company came about almost by itself to be honest, I arranged a Colour Walk last year because in all honesty I was feeling lonely. I was in contact with people everyday via social media but as encouraging as it is to have that right in the palm of your hand, nothing beats real life friendships. I realised once you got past school age and settled into your own career, there actually isn’t a lot of ways you can meet new people and being a self-employed creative can make that even harder, especially when you’re working from home or in your own studio. So In Colourful Company came about to bring people together. To bring those people you’ve been talking to for years online to your actual real life, to form actual real life friendships.
I feel like I have my own cheer camp within In Colourful Company and not because I head it up, but rather because I’m a part of it. Everyone supports each other, there is no competition and I love that.
I would like to see it continue to grow organically, as it has been doing.I love the idea that In Colourful Company is made through word of mouth and not someone pushing something every day on social media. I want it to be exactly what it is already, continuing to reach out to more people, continuing to help people feel less alone and more supported.
As someone who also works home alone this resonated with me so much. The Colour Walks I've been on do feel a bit like we've brought Instagram into reality and it's been such a pleasure to meet so many of my online pals in real life. Everyone has been so unbelievably friendly and I feel like I've made some really special friends for life. I'm lucky to have lots of friends already (mostly from school), but In Colourful Company has allowed me to meet lots of people who really understand what it is I do, who have similar professions to me and who like the same things. There's a lot to be said for that.
What is a Colour Walk and what can I expect?
A Colour Walk is an informal gathering in which you go on a little tour of part of a town or city (usually featuring lots of colour or street art), take some photos (and lots of silly Boomerangs) and get chatting to friends old and new. Walks tend to last a couple of hours and then anyone who wants to can go for some food/drink afterwards and carry on the chat and good vibes.
Previous events have been held in London, Sheffield, Manchester, Leeds, Brighton, Margatee, Liverpool and even The Netherlands and there are currently upcoming Colour Walks in Oxford, London, Belfast, Margate and Glasgow as well as social events in Newcastle and York.
Clicking "attending" on the Facebook event for each walk is a good idea, so that your hosts know how many people to expect, but it's not essential - if you turn up to the meeting point on the day without doing this no one will know or kick you out!
Some walks will be a bit different, for example In Colourful Company host an annual event with Lucky Dip Club at Dreamland in Margate. This is quite different to the usual walks, as attendees meet in a big group, but end up filtering off into smaller groups to go on rides and hang out in various areas of the theme park, before meeting back up for a roller skate! Yesterday I attended a video walk in London, hosted by Xanthe B and In Colourful Company and had a lot of fun prancing about in the sun and experimenting with shooting video. We were only a small group, but I think we made quite an impression on Kings Cross.
Who can come?
Anybody is welcome! As Toni says above, many of the people who attend are creatives who spend a lot of their time working alone or from home, but you don't have to be creative to attend. ICC is all-inclusive. Feel free to bring friends, partners, children (and in most cases dogs). If you have any special requirements in terms of accessibility get in contact with the hosts of the walk beforehand who will make sure you're accommodated.
How many people attend?
It totally depends! The first Colour Walk Toni hosted had fewer than 20 attendees, but the last Colour Walk I went to (in Brighton) must have had around 70. I'll be hosting a London walk in July and we currently have 131 people saying they're attending on our Facebook Event, though I definitely won't be expecting that number of people to turn up on the day. I know that that number of people can sound intimidating, particularly as someone who isn't keen on crowds, but honestly it's the nicest, most chilled kind of crowd I've experienced - everyone is super friendly, and if you need to sneak off for some alone time that's totally fine. At every walk I've been on someone has stopped us on the street (with a huge smile on their faces) to ask what we're doing, we must make quite a sight in our colourful clothes!
What do I need to wear?
Yes, it IS called a Colour Walk and most people will be dressed brightly but you're free to wear whatever you like. Black is a colour too! Just wear something you feel comfortable in and that makes you happy. Take note of the weather before setting off, and pack layers or raincoats if it's looking chilly or rainy on the day, as you'll be outside a lot.
What do I need to bring?
There are no rules but I'd recommend bringing your phone and/or camera to take some photos of the colourful things you see and selfies with your friends. If you plan on taking lots of photos and videos then a power pack is a good idea. You might like to bring a small tripod or a selfie stick too, but it's not essential.
Walks can often start around lunchtime, and it's usually a couple of hours before we stop for a break, so taking some water and snacks with you is always a good idea to keep your energy levels up.
At some walks there will be swaps, so if you're a designer-maker with a product based business, you might like to bring a few of your pieces to swap at the end of the walk. This is a great way to make new friends and discover new businesses!
How do I find out about future walks?
Join the In Colourful Company Facebook group - this is the best place to keep up-to-date with news and events, and also to get to know the community better. People often share rainbow-hued products they've found, colourful travel destinations they'd love to visit, ask for advice and discuss various topics in the group. Click the Events tab to check what walks and events are coming up. Some Colour Walk hosts also organise events for the day before or after the walk, as some attendees travel from afar and will be staying in the local area. I know that there will be spin-off events the weekend of the upcoming the ICCxLDC Margate walk and recently at the Brighton walk a few people met up for dinner the night before.
What if I’m coming alone?
Don't worry, lots of people will be coming alone. I went to the Manchester walk on my own, but admittedly had met a few of the other attendees before or had chatted to them on Instagram for years beforehand. It's not vital, but I'd recommend starting up casual conversations with other people you know are attending a walk in the weeks beforehand on Instagram or Facebook. The invite list on the Facebook events are always public so you can have a scroll through and take a look. It's always nice to feel like you have a small link to someone beforehand, but it's not vital. If you're travelling from another city it could also be worth posting in the group and seeing if anyone else is booking the same train as you or wants to share cars and petrol costs.
I don't think I'd be stepping out of line by saying that many of the ICC attendees have anxiety in varying levels. Lots of us are a little awkward and a little nervous, and no one is going to judge you if you're feeling shy on the day.
What happens after a walk?
After most walks there will be food and drink at a venue chosen by the organisers. Many of the attendees (including Toni, who started In Colourful Company) are vegan, so venues will always be vegan friendly. Don't forget to exchange cards/Instagram handles with the people you meet on the day (but don't worry if you do forget, there will be a thread on the event page where you can leave your handles after the walk). Some people will have to leave early, which is fine, but it's always nice to carry on the festivities for a little while longer.
How can I find out more?
As I said previously, join the Facebook group to find out about future events. You need to request to join, but that's just to ward off spammy accounts, so don't be scared off. There's also an In Colourful Company Instagram (don't forget to use the hashtag #incolourfulcompany for all of your colourful pics) and a website, where you'll find a blog full of fun and interesting posts.
Tell me about the London walk!
I'm thrilled to be hosting my second London Colour Walk with my pals Erica and Kim. We'll be meeting on Saturday 7th July outside Liverpol Street Station at 1pm (trust me, we won't be hard to spot). We will be taking you on a tour of Shoreditch's colourful walls for a couple of hours, before heading off for some tasty food close by. Join our events page to find out more details closer to the time. For now you can watch this little video I made of last year's walk. Watching this is making me so excited for July, I really hope you can make it.