So I’ve been at the Mâché front desk the last few weeks and I’ve noticed there’s a couple questions that I get asked more often than others;
1. What do you guys DO here anyways?
2. So what qualifies you to manage a co-working space?
I thought I’d take the opportunity I have here with the audience we’ve grown to answer those two questions. I’ll start with what “qualifies” me to manage a co-working space.
We’ll start back at the beginning, school. My education was tumultuous, at least in my head. I was diagnosed with ADHD from an early age and in about year 7 I was given a choice, to stay on the medication that helped my focus and grades or move on from it and keep my personality and social life. I have no regrets leaving the constantly switching prescriptions of Ritalin and ‘Dextamphetamine’ and constant hazy thoughts behind me and instead tackling life head on. It was so much a struggle that in Year 12 I was approached by the teacher who was my year level co-ordinator, I.T teacher, CISCO CCNA instructor and homeroom teacher. He advised me that my practical work was impeccable, and if I was to be judged on that alone I’d pass with flying colours, however DECS requires a certain percentage of success with the theory also. He gave me a choice, I can stay and more than likely fail, or I can leave and find a job. I chose the latter.
Since school, I’ve worked at vineyards picking grapes, swept building sites for $5 an hour, worked the drag shift at a petrol station while suffering from Glandular Fever and even did a stint at JB Hi-Fi. This was, until I found I could turn my photography hobby into a source of income.
I’d never considered freelancing, I always saw my photography as an escape from my regular life, but I was thrust into the bands and bars scene sometime around 2007-2008 and ended up working full time from 2010 doing only photo work. At this point you’re probably thinking “How does this even relate to the second question??” and that’s fair, I’m known to go off on tangents. Like this one time back in nineteen diggity six.
Just kidding. The thing is though, after working freelance for nearly nine years you get some insight in to where the trappings are and what it is about freelancing that really can suck the life out of the job. I managed to circumvent nearly all of these things before I eventually quit to have a break, but here’s some points.
1. You’re your own boss. This means that you’ve got to discipline yourself, and just like any employer/employee relationship you can’t be too hard on yourself or you start to get depressed. When you’re depressed you’re unproductive and when you’re unproductive you lose clients and therefore money. Which is, in turn, depressing.
2. You have to be self motivating. This plays off of depression a little too, you really have to knock through every single barrier your mind throws up by itself. Every single distraction you provide yourself with your hard earned cash needs to be told “NO” when it calls your name from the corner of your room.
3. You need to be constantly ‘schmoozing’. Networking is vital. VITAL. I’m a recluse and I love holing myself up in my room and never coming out unless to eat or bathe, however I always made time to introduce myself to nearly everyone I met. Every single person in the room is a possible work opportunity, and that work buys the good soap, so you’ve got to ditch whatever thoughts you’ve got hanging around in your head and just go for it.
4. (Possibly the most important) You need to be constantly LEARNING. Every single moment you have “free” you have got to be experimenting with your tools, reading about how they work and how people have used them in various ways. Whatever your tools may be, there’s always someone in Sweden or Japan who’s ready to blow your mind with something they found out they could do when they were bored one day. With the Internet being as it is, you’ve got to limit the periods in which you do this, but I assure you that even if you don’t do half the things you read about, it’s better to know about them and stay on top of the trends in order to see if you need to ride them or avoid them.
So, what qualifies me to run a co-working space? Well, technically nothing, but I can relate to every single person who walks through the door. Everything they encounter in their work I can guarantee I’ve had a similar experience and I’m still standing and ready to cheer on anyone else who decides to step up to the challenge of being self employed.
This brings me to question numero uno. “What do you guys DO here anyways?!”
The collective “we” (Jac, Dans, Bianka and myself) aim to provide an environment in which the self employed can thrive. One of the hardest things about being self employed is working from home, and not everyone is in the position in their career to get their own office space, so we’re the happy medium. We aim to be more than just an office space though. We want to have a mix of people who can share talents, experiences and advice to each other in order to keep one another on track and work to the best of their abilities. Like, Tony is a web designer but he’s no photographer and his client needs product shots. Tony’s job would be easier if he knew what the shots were before he started work so he asks Fiona if she’s free to do some photos. Instantly, one client has created two jobs in the one building, cutting down the turnaround time and allowing for some creative collaboration. Or maybe Aaron the film maker needs a voice over artist but he’s got no contacts and has no idea when it comes to audio. He can walk over to Ryan, who does weekly podcasts in the recording studio, and ask him if he knows anyone with a particular style of voice and if Ryan can maybe get them in for an audition.
The amount of internal networking would make the space a one stop shop for clients who need people from multiple disciplines to tackle a project.
So that’s what we “DO”. We facilitate creativity by providing an affordable and positive environment for people to get work done.
We also do knock off beers every now and then on a Friday.
I hope that’s answered the questions, and given you a little insight in to how I ended up in the position I am at mâché. If you’ve got further questions, feel free to hit the team at firstname.lastname@example.org or my personal email at email@example.com