Earlier this week I asked you for some suggestions on blog topics and a few of you said you're interested in hearing more about my studio. I'm breaking up the studio topic into a few blog posts, so let's get the basics out in the open:
I currently rent a ~600 square foot space in downtown Winnipeg. It's an old building (about 120 years old) that is currently being renovated into a space for artists. There are already painters, clothing designers, graphic designers, jewelers, photographers, and potters so far. I'm on the 3rd floor of the building and I overlook Main Street. Since it's still under construction, the building remains locked unless we unlock it for a certain period of time for "open studio" days, but I think they plan on changing that once the building is totally finished. As far as I know, the goal is for the public to be able to walk in and visit the studios and shop.
I've had a lot of people say things like "goals" and "small biz goals" to me after hearing or seeing that I rent a commercial studio space downtown as though it's some measure of success. While I suuuuper appreciate all the kind words, I just want to explain a bit more about it and why it's totally NOT necessary for your business to be successful, and why you DON'T need to rent a space to be taken seriously as a business person (although it's totally your choice what you choose to do with your biz).
Unless I were to have an actual shop that's open to the public 5 days a week, I would prefer a home studio to a rented studio. "So why don't you do it?!" you ask? Let me tell you why I can not have a home studio at this current time in my life:
Back in 2015, I moved in with my partner, Matt. Shortly after, we moved back home to separate places (which sucks) when he decided to quit his job and go back to school (which is great). In the time that we lived together, I had accumulated so much "apartment/home" stuff, not even including yarn and business things. There simply was not enough room in my house for everything, and it wasn't my house anyways. It's my mom's house, and to have our family drown in yarn just isn't fair to anybody. My house was cluttered with my storage. I had maxed out my bedroom, my basement, my living room, our office, our garage, and parts of our family room. Everything was everywhere.
I also have pets that make for a poor environment for knitting and crocheting products since their hair gets everywhere (and knitwear with pet hair in it is professionalism level zero in my books). A lot of my customers are local and would pick up their purchases from my house. It was a huge hassle to put away my misbehaved Doberman multiple times a day in anticipation of people coming to pick-up. Having a separate studio space temporarily acts as both a storage space and a workspace that basically solves all these problems until I get a house of my own. (Honestly, typing this up I'm wondering how the hell I even managed)
Matt graduates in less than a year, so we will be house-hunting later this year and I can't tell you how freaking excited that makes me. I just want to be able to work from home and get my adult-life started because we're all feeling a little cramped in this house and I just want everything of mine in one place.
I know it sounds really cool to be able to talk about "your studio" and if that's your goal or your dream, then I'm so happy for you and I truly hope you go out there and go for it. Anyone can rent an office space, so give it a go! I understand that not everybody has the space for a home office or home studio, and a rented space may be the only solution to a cramped living situation. For someone like Lauren Aston Designs, I can see the need for a studio space since her entire business is giant knitting that takes up space beyond belief. The whole point is that everybody's businesses and goals are different. I had once dreamed of having my own studio space and now that I have it, I just want to buy a house with the person I love and build a home that suits our needs (studio space included).
Every business is different and has different needs. A pattern designer may not need a large studio space because they are not mass-producing finished goods. A full-time knitter with finished goods for sale may be totally comfortable with their home business and that's great. There's no pressure to make business decisions that aren't right for you. It's YOUR business after all!
So here I am, sitting in the studio of my dreams, but also wishing it could be transported to my future house. The grass is always greener, right? I have really been enjoying pattern writing lately and think that I'd have a really healthy work balance if I made slightly less finished product, and wrote more patterns to make up for it. I enjoy writing patterns so much and it would also allow for less overhead costs when it comes to my business expenses since yarn orders and other product costs seriously add up! Honestly, my wholesale yarn orders are basically not even wholesale prices once you factor in shipping, customs, and the exchange rate.
Anyways, I just want to remind you that it's not about "what you have" (like a studio, or a huge work office, or the most expensive laptop or camera equipment), it's about "the way you work" like great customer service, replying to emails on time, making quality products, meeting deadlines, working hard, replying to customers/commenters on social media (always!), building a strong brand, etc. You don't need a lot of money or anything extravagant to build a good business for yourself. You just have to find your niche and work hella hard to build a strong brand. You can work from a tiny apartment and find success, or you can work from a huge house with expensive materials and equipment and still fail. What's important is thoughtful branding, maintaining a consistent level of quality, and the way you treat your customers.
You've got to build a good reputation and you can't buy that with money!
PS. The next post coming is about the pros and cons of having a studio space.
See you soon!
Thanks for sharing, I love that your sharing about your real life!! We all have one and your absolutely right when you say the grass is greener..lol
I’m planning a Winnipeg trip this summer and hitting all the fab places I follow on instagram. Yours will definitely be one!!
Love this! Your honesty shines through. Very true about the importance of ‘the way you work’ (hard work, quality and customer satisfaction etc.) I don’t have a big budget but we are fortunate to have a large home with tons of storage and one of our spare bedrooms as my ‘studio.’ Wishing you continued success with your business and home search dreams with your partner.