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Sarah Jepson, founder of Six Degrees, spills the beans on why Exeter needs a new women's networking group and where she goes to work, drink and play.

Step away from your LinkedIn, there’s a new social network for professional women in town. Six Degrees is the cool new place to meet up with other hard-working women, quaff a gin and hear how they spin those plates. Set up this spring by Sarah Jepson, owner of Exeter’s Attention Media, along with Linda Horner and Louise Glanville, members are already in triple figures, and Sarah has ambitions to expand into Bristol and London.

They have loads of inspiring Exeter-based events in the offing, including a series of autumn talks called“The Truth About…”  at which I recently gave a talk on going freelance. If you missed it (I forgive you), the next one is on Wednesday 16 October with Anna Britten, the editor of Exeter Living, who’s riffing on ‘being young, female, blond and short and how getting older has its advantages’, followed by Sarah Cressall from the arts and crafts activity franchise, Creation Station on November 14th.

I caught up with Sarah afterwards to find out why she set up the group, and, figuring Sarah must do a fair of bit of corporate wining and dining (and because I’m greedy), to get her hot tips on Exeter’s eateries.

Why do women head to Six Degrees after hard day’s grind instead of home to their PJ’s?

It’s a place for women to relax with an afterwork drink and meet to discuss things that affect them and make useful work connections. Because no-one needs more calendar-related stress, we have a range of different times to meet from breakfast to lunch and soirees, so members can slot in to suit their particular work-life balance.

Most of the women are professional, ambitious and entrepreneurial, either working for a company in marketing or law firms for example, or have set up their own business. It’s a safe, super-informal way for women to meet or in some cases re-connect.

From what I saw it’s going great guns, what’s next?

We have our first official sponsorship deal with wealth management company, Prydis, which will enable the group to host larger events in the near future and from 2020, we plan to introduce our Flourish Fund, primarily to support members who want to apply for financial backing to do, say a course or career counselling for example. My ambition is also to introduce more speakers, ambassadors to launch in other areas and find more sponsors.

I was struck by how many women shared experiences of still being talked over or ignored by men in meetings. Is that something Six Degrees aims to address?

Definitely. We are somewhere you can hear how other women handle issues that affect them in their workplace, whether it’s pushing forward equal pay or flexible working, so they can go back into their own businesses feeling empowered.

Where do you escape when you want to work away from the office?

Either Hotel du Vin or Southernhay House in Southernhay. Both are beautifully light and airy, and great spaces to informally network as they’re close to the business hub, and you tend to see people you know there. They’ve both got great bars as well, when you’re looking to finish work!

How about when you want to impress a client?

It’s always Rendezvous, Circa 1924 or Harry’s. I never worry ‘will it be okay’. They all guarantee brilliant service and are all indies run by big foodies who source locally, and understand that customer loyalty matters. I love Artigiano on the High Street too: it’s a busy cafe in the day, and a cool bar for cocktails and espresso martini by night, and they really know their coffee. 

And when you want to escape from it all?

It has to be Bovey Castle. I’ve stayed there a few times and it’s one of the most relaxing places: the grounds are gorgeous. It looks grand but you know you can kick off your shoes and relax. I love the brasserie and the afternoon teas and of course, that spa.

Want to know more, more, more? Find out about becoming a Six Degrees’ member here.

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