Balancing a Design Practice and Co-Working Space in New York City, with Jessi Arrington & Creighton Mershon
Jessi Arrington (@JessiArrington) and Creighton Mershon (@Cr8tonMershon) are the founders of Workshop, a Brooklyn-based creative agency, as well as the proprietors of Small City, a new co-working space and home to dozens of independent creative pros. Alongside their design practice, Jessi & Creighton have grown their co-working experience by taking on more responsibility across three different spaces in Brooklyn. In this conversation, we discuss the oddities and challenges of New York real estate, the financial and logistical efforts needed to run a co-working space anywhere, and a bit about balancing family life with all manner of creative and business tasks. Catch up with Jessi & Creighton on their websites for Workshop and Small City. 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Get started for free on Freedcamp.com Show Notes & Links In Fall 2007, Prescott ran the Philadelphia Marathon but also discovered that he didn’t know any peers in the design biz Jessi and Prescott in Debbie Millman‘s class at SVA in Fall 2007 Jessi & Creighton met in the “New York Design Scene” Jessi & Prescott, being young and wild J&C have broadened the definitions of “Design” "A shared word does not mean a shared definiton." —Debbie Millman Tweet This "Design is about intention. We're trying to live a designed life." —Jessi Arrington Tweet This Parsons, The New School for Design Jessi & Creighton founded Workshop in 2005 (and married in 2006) Jessi & Creighton recently celebrated their ten-year anniversary Workshop now practices “in-person experience design”, which encompasses physical spaces, graphics, and time (how a person moves through a place) "I like to think about our projects and ask 'What happens when we press play?'" —Creighton Mershon Tweet This Rainbow Parade "Nothing like your job to get in the way of your work." —business adage Tweet This Workshop is currently three partners: Jessi, Creighton, and Casson Rosenblatt TED "Keeping it small has been good for our business but bad for our personal lives." —Jessi Arrington Tweet This The Hollywood Model, a definition Co-Working, a definition Small City is a converted industrial space in Gowanus, Brooklyn The decor is very un-office-like Big Reuse Brooklyn Beta Comedy Hack Day Before opening Small City, J&C ran two prior co-working spaces, allowing them to become familiar with security deposits, etc. Desks at Small City cost $550/mo. (get yours) "Airbnb is a real estate play." —Prescott Perez-Fox Tweet This DUMBO, Brooklyn (which used to be a very scrappy, creative ‘hood is now too expensive for upstarts like Workshop) HOW Magazine Different professions need different square feet per employee (call centers need 90; architects need 600) Airbnb One aspect of gentrification is desk workers replacing industrial workers Coney Island, as far as you can go in Brooklyn Popular Science magazine (and its predictions of the future) Will self-driving cars transform commuting, and thereby the suburbs? Sheepshead Bay, Ridgewood, Castle Hill — New York City neighbourhoods outside of Manhattan Jessi & Creighton sold their Brooklyn condo and bought a building in Louisville, KY as part of a future project and for the ability to live in multiple cities Some folks are commuting to Small City from Manhattan and other parts of Brooklyn Commuting is tolerable if you have a nice “work neighbourhood” The Internet of Things ACH Carting Companies, independant, for-profit companies a commercial space must use to collect garbage “Who’s dealing with the trash!” Adobe MAX Prescott’s family comes from the Recycling industry P&L = Profit & Loss WeWork Will co-working spaces offer childcare and other services? "Us being happy parents involves a certain amount of chaos." —Jessi Arrington Tweet This The Gowanus Canal (not for swimming) Jessi gave a TED talk AIGA & AIGA/NY Workshop Small City Jessi Arrington on Twitter Jessi Arrington on Facebook Jessi Arrington on Instagram Jessi Arrington on LinkedIn Creighton Mershon on Twitter Creighton Mershon on Instagram Creighton Mershon on LinkedIn Tools Quickbooks Google Sheets Station Wagon Found objects Reused furniture Techniques Keep your company small enough so you don’t have huge overhead Look for other ways to keep a network alive aside from conventional employees Use co-working studiomates for accountability and courage Find and reuse furniture or items, especially when found on the street or at flea market Use your existing resources for client events and experiences (no rules against that) Build a culture where people “take out their own recycling” Work up little by little into bigger spaces, which in turn allow you to save more and more money for future use Schedule a day each month to create the necessary invoices Keep separate bank accounts for different areas of operation (client services vs. renting desks) Habits Work to improve stopping and documenting projects and process Keep your company small if you’re not an effective or natural manager Always consider the trash situation following an event! 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