Made in Soho: Faces from a Thriving Soho

Six people with strong connections to Soho share what it meant for them to survive – and thrive – during the lockdown(s) of 2020-2021…

Photography: Kamil Nowak | Amal Omari

AMAL OMARI

A&R Consultant & Soho Radio Presenter

“I used to work behind the scenes back in 2014/15 for a start-up radio station and eventually thought, why not give it a go and play some of the music that I like? Just been doing it for fun ever since.

I love soul, R’n’B music with a bit of meaning and substance. I hope that listeners to my show can take away new ideas and new philosophies of life alongside amazing music. And there are very chilled zen moments in there as well. My show is two hours long – that’s split in between new music and new artists but also focuses on mental health and the wellbeing of the individual.

I’ve been calling the past year ‘Flourishing in Chaos’. I’ve been able to free myself in many ways from the world of capitalism. I’m hoping a lot of us have been able to free ourselves from the chains that hold us… we’ll see how long that lasts!”


Bev Elliot – Punk Queen of Soho | Photography: Kamil Nowak

Bev Elliot – Punk Queen of Soho

Music journalist and style icon

“I don’t have any time to spare for things in the internet world – I need to have face-to-face connections and that’s what I’ve been missing.  I’m most looking forward to going to gigs again at my fave venue in the world – 100 Club. Live music is as important as breath is to me to keep me alive. Once it all opens up I shall be back to my normal stewed and tattooed – that’s me! If I’m in London I  get all my tattoos done at Diamond Jacks Soho. You’ll see everything in Summer – they’re all be on display!”

Biggest takeaway from the past year?

“That sometimes it’s ok to be on your own and not rely on others… and other times I just want to hug someone so badly! I’m just so grateful to be in Soho. I don’t know where else I could have been and felt so happy. We’re Soho Strong – that’s what I I say!… In fact that’s gonna be my next tattoo!”


Soho George | Photo credit: Andrew Leo

Soho George

Artist and style icon

“One thing that I do really miss culturally (and I do need artistic calories every day of the week) is going to the British Museum. My first trip of the day would be into the Member’s Room, cup of coffee, chat with a few members of staff and then go on my way to Soho. I really do miss that – and the National Gallery, and the V&A which is probably one of my spiritual homes…all three of them really. But they’ve been taken away.

I’ve done a few drawings for painting, but I can’t seem to get into it. I just can’t get into it creatively… It’s really weird. It’s not like me. That’s the only thing that’s been a bit of a downside really, is the fact that I couldn’t get back into my painting. I’m going to start tomorrow – I need that kick!”

Biggest takeaway from the past year?

“That human nature doesn’t change. People panic and get frightened… it’s a survival instinct.”


Photography: Kamil Nowak | Carol’s Pitstop

CAROL’S PITSTOP

For the street food stalls in Berwick Street, the disappearance of Soho’s office staff over lockdown was a particular wrench. But the technology that has kept them behind their own front doors will hopefully be instrumental in getting them back.

So Carol from the Pitstop Cafe tells us at any rate. She’s recently re-opened her Asian food stall part-time and decided the best way to alert the neighbourhood was via social media. “We are telling people that we are open and I have a Twitter account too: @pitstopcafesoho, and from that there has been a great response. We’re trying to get the community, the people living here to come for lunches. I’m having customers come by and ask for their favourite dishes like curries – I still do those things because it keeps people happy.”

Can’t ask for more than satisfied punters!

So Carol from the Pitstop Cafe tells us at any rate. She’s recently re-opened her Asian food stall part-time and decided the best way to alert the neighbourhood was via social media. “We are telling people that we are open and I have a Twitter account too: @pitstopcafesoho, and from that there has been a great response. We’re trying to get the community, the people living here to come for lunches. I’m having customers come by and ask for their favourite dishes like curries – I still do those things because it keeps people happy.”


Kai Lutterodt aka The Soho PR Girl | Photo credit: Andrew Leo

KAI AKA THE SOHO GIRL

PR Consultant & Editor-in-Chief of My Soho Times

“I’m a South London gal at heart, but Soho is where I’ve been lucky enough to call home for the past 17 years.

It took a while to find my calling in the community – I used to think to survive in Soho I needed to be invisible and, ironically, mind my own business (there’s a pun in there somewhere!). I have decided to make a difference by creating a platform for businesses and emerging content creators alike, which has become a lifeline for many in the middle of endless lockdowns.

I have stepped out of the shadows to be an influential part of my community. Better now than never, right? I want to be a champion for SMEs as well as be a voice for my community through My Soho Times… feels like I’ve finally found my place in Soho!”


Photography: Kamil Nowak | Oliver Scholte

OLIVER SCHOLTE

Creative Director at Oliver Stephens

“We’re a unisex salon specialising in Precision Haircutting , Organic Colour and Organic Perming.

The past year has been a rollercoaster ride, but when we do reopen after lockdowns, there’s big demand from our loyal clients! We’re also attracting new clients which is fantastic!

The lockdowns gave us the chance to stand back and reflect on our business as a whole. We’ve adapted and even used this latest lockdown to have a salon refresh. Our lighting is now softer and more contemporary which is so much more complimentary.

My biggest realisation this year is how invaluable our clients loyalty is and how that makes it so special and unique to all of us. That loyalty has prompted me to keep in touch with our clients, whether that be by sending a small message, social media or a telephone call.

We’re a family run business and our close bond is the essential foundation to making it successful . Dad even pops in to help me out every now and then when I’m up to my ears in it! I’m really excited to reopen in April and welcome everybody back.”

Written by Gillian Smith and Kai Lutterodt. Previously published in the Spring issue of My Soho Times. CLICK HERE to read online.

CLICK HERE to view more from the Made In Soho series.

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