Calgary freelancers throw office party for the office-less

It was a night in celebration of pyjama work days, coffee shop free Wi-Fi and the struggles of getting paid on time.

Event was first of its kind in Calgary, says co-host and blogger Mike Morrison

The sold-out event was for freelancers, under-employed individuals and Calgarians of all stripes who may not otherwise have had a Christmas office party to attend. (Justin Pennel/CBC)

It was a night in celebration of pyjama work days, coffee shop free Wi-Fi and the struggles of getting paid on time.

More than 100 Calgary entrepreneurs got together Tuesday night for the city's first Freelance Christmas Party, at Last Best Brewing. 

The unconventional office party billed itself as an opportunity for self-employed or otherwise under-employed Calgarians to bond over the shared struggles and joys of working for themselves.

"I think people walk in and say, 'Oh, wow. There's 100 other people here who are just like me — who know what it's like to struggle to find jobs sometimes and get people to pay us, and what it's like to be alone all day and not talk to anyone but your cat," said co-host and blogger Mike Morrison.

"If these entrepreneurs and freelancers go home tonight and realize that they're not alone, that there's a whole network of people like them out there, this certainly is inspiration for us to do more events like this," says Mike Morrison. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

Morrison, who has been self-employed for four years, said the idea came to him and his co-host Kait Kucy when they realized that freelancers shouldn't have to "miss out on the fun."

"You know, the embarrassing things that happen at the Christmas parties, where everyone just gets to let loose a little because it's Christmas time."

Potentially more to come

Sunjeev Prasad, founder of Street Gentlemen personal image consulting, said he appreciated the opportunity to get to know people and build relationships in a casual and friendly environment.

"It's not like a forced conversation that you would have at some networking events, where you feel like you have to sell yourself," he explained.

'I knew I was coming into a friendly environment [with] a lot of creative people, a lot of intelligent conversations,' says Sunjeev Prasad. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

Amid the prize draws, flowing pints and light appies, Morrison said he was inspired to see so many people forging new connections.

"If people get jobs out of tonight, that to me is a big success," said Morrison.

He said he expects events like this to become increasingly important as Calgary's economy continues to diversify, and as the city continues to embrace its "entrepreneurial culture."

"If these entrepreneurs and freelancers go home tonight and realize that they're not alone, that there's a whole network of people like them out there, this certainly is inspiration for us to do more events like this," he said.

With files from Justin Pennell