If you read my last post explaining why I have a studio space (find it here), then you know I currently have a ~600 square foot studio space in downtown Winnipeg that I use as my storage / part-time workspace. You can re-visit that post if you'd like to know why I choose to rent a studio space at this point in my life.
Big news though.. this is my last month. I'm at an awkward phase in my life where I really need a house of my own but we're not ready financially, as my partner is still finishing up his schooling. Almost everything I want in a work space is possible with a house of my own, and could be done more efficiently. Since we're not there yet though.. the studio has been a great help. I have realized, however, that someone who lives at home should not have close to $1,500 in bills a month and the studio space is eating up money that could be going to our mortgage savings account. That being said - the studio has given me a lot of freedom and a space to call my own. Let me share with you my personal list of pros and cons of renting my own studio space.
why I love my current studio space:
1. Photos. (I can feel you rolling your eyes at me right now.. but hear me out) As an online business, photos are especially important. Now I finally have a pretty place to take photos of my items for listings, blog posts, social media, email newsletters.. everything. I used to get so stressed out about taking photos for listings and I couldn't find a nice place to take them or a person to take them for me. It's basically my own photo studio, which I love. (Another room in the building is actually being rented just for a photo studio.) It's a bright white room with a giant window. This space has allowed me to be a lot more creative (although if I had a house of my own, I would make sure to have a bright clean photo space as well). I just set my phone on selfie-mode, click that 10-second timer, and pose away.
2. A place for customers to shop. If you sell finished product, this is a huge bonus. In the winter, I received an overload of emails from local customers asking if they could pick something up from me. This studio space allowed me to invite shoppers up to the studio on the days of my choosing to browse everything themselves. Every finished item is stored on shelving that is easily shoppable, and customers can pick through everything I have at once. It's basically like a little market, except I was the only one they're going to buy from (what a dream, right?! lol).
Back story: I used to have customers purchase online and pick their items up from my house, which was a huge hassle. I had a giant misbehaved Doberman who scared the crap out of everybody, so we had to put him away in anticipation of customers coming to pick-up. It would take a lot of time to put the dog away multiple times a day during the busy season and I would spend time watching out the window for customers to avoid the door-bell ringing and having my dog freak out. I wasted a ton of time doing this. Not exactly an ideal situation!
3. Distraction-free zone. As you may have guessed, a separate place to work is one of the perks of renting on office space. It's a place I can go where there's nothing else to do but work. Some days I feel less motivated to work, and these are often the days I choose to spend at my studio. It's a place where I get really in-the-zone because I'm surrounded by yarn, calendars, my stock pile of products, shelves of unfinished product, to-do lists, my laptop, pattern notes, etc. In my opinion, being surrounded by all of my work-related things is so conducive to productive work. It puts me in such a strong work-mode and this is probably my favourite thing about my studio. It makes me feel so motivated to continue working hard because I can see the business that I've built all around me and it makes me feel so proud of my progress and motivates me to keep going. If I'm feeling lazy and unmotivated, I walk into my studio and instantly feel re-energized. Some of my most productive work days are spent here.
4. Work/Life Separation. I can totally see how someone working from home may go a little crazy from being in the same place for so long without human contact (lol). I also felt like this for a little while last winter. During the busy season, I felt like I was spending every moment of the day working. When I got the studio space, it was really nice to put my project down and leave it there, drive home and not worry about it until the next morning.
The not-so-great parts about renting a workspace
1. It's basically a mortgage payment. Lol - that's about all I have to say about that one! It's a little discouraging knowing that the money I'm paying could be going towards my dream studio someday, but you gotta do what you gotta do. So until Matt and I are ready to buy a house, there is no other option besides renting a work space (I could rent an apartment but my apartment days are behind me). On top of monthly rent payments, there is also an additional hydro and wifi fee.
Note: the only way I'm able to leave the studio now is because my mom was kind enough to clear space in our house for all my stuff (she's the best),
2. I want a home-based business. For me, this is a personal choice. I'm 24; soon I'm going to want a family, and I'm going to stay home with them. I want my entire business to be at home with me so that I can work around my family's schedule. I don't want to be driving to and from work when it could be in my home. The only thing I know for sure about my future is that there will be kids in it and I've always wanted a business I can run from home.
3. Having work things in 2 places. This has been a hard one for me. Even though I try to thoughtfully plan out my near-future making-schedule, I constantly find myself driving home from the studio, only to realize I brought all the right colours of yarn that I need but forgot my hook on my desk. So then I drive back to get it - only to realize I actually had it with me the whole time and just wasted half of hour driving back and forth wasting gas. Or better yet, driving to the studio and realizing I forgot my building key.
Sometimes, I get ideas for a product, and I can't work on it until I go to the studio to get my materials. It's just frustrating when you don't want to go out anywhere, and then have to because everything you need is someplace else when you know it could be so much simpler!
4. Organization is minimized. I've got shelving units but unless I'm able to use my vertical wall space, I'm losing storage space and paying more for square footage than necessary. I've got 10 foot high ceilings, and so much of the wall space is wasted. Ideally, I'd have build-in shelving units along the walls as well as shelves above my desk to get clutter off of my desk and tables. I'm a picky person and I like to have things done my way. When I'm not able to customize things to my needs, I just know that there's a more efficient way to do it and I feel like I'm not getting my money's worth!
Honestly, I have been working from home all summer and I don't mind being at home (I would actually prefer it). There's better food, better TV, better internet connection, and it's more comfortable. I live at my mom's house, and I've really been enjoying her company. It's nice to get to spend time with her all day. I used to be excited to get dressed to go work at the studio, but now I just want to stay in my comfy clothes and work from the couch. I don't know if it's the fact that I'm getting older and am craving stability, but I've learned that if given the choice to do this type of work at home or in a rented studio space, I prefer home! It's funny - I used to work from home because it was my only option, and I desperately wanted a studio space. I loved the studio for the first little while, but then I realized that I actually prefer to have everything home with me. It saved time and was more convenient and comfortable for me. I had wanted a studio since the beginning of starting my business and I'm glad I tried it because now I have another experience under my belt and knowing what ISN'T right for your business can be just as helpful as knowing what IS right.
Some of these may seem a bit ridiculous to you - like "organization is minimized? What do you mean - just organize it!?" but I've spent years now having my business workspace (or lack thereof) feel disorganized and out of my control because my space has never been my own space. I guess what I'm saying is that I want my space to reflect me and my business, and I want to be able to personalize it and customize it to my own needs to make my day-to-day business tasks flow more efficiently. It doesn't have to be the fanciest, and it doesn't have to be expensive. I just want it to be mine.
I hope some of these points have helped you or given you clarity if a studio space is something you've been aiming for!