Profile: Makeshift Society
Yesterday I signed a lease, handed over a check, and started a new business: Makeshift Society. I’ve been hinting about this forever, it seems, but it’s finally happening. I thought I’d talk a little bit more about the process here – it’s been a really long road!
I originally had an idea to create a lending library of art and design books. After selling Rare Device, I discovered that what I missed most about the store was 1) customer and vendor interaction and 2) buying books. It took me many months to come to that conclusion! I thought that I should do something about it and open a small space. This was back in October.
I talked to many friends about my idea. They were very helpful in asking questions that poked holes in my assumptions. How would the library make money? Would there be a cafe or sitting space associated with it? Would it have wifi? At first I was pretty adamant that the library was the main feature of the space, but my vision was refined by all of these questions, and eventually the idea evolved into creating a community, or Society, of creative people who could access a clubhouse space that offered classes and workspace. It’s coworking, classes, and community. It took half a year to get there, however – this is why people will say, “I’ve been planning the business for 2 years”. They really have been researching and refining their idea that long.
I worked on my plan while looking for an appropriate space. Let me say that the “plan” wasn’t a full business plan…it was just notes about what features of the space were important to me. I had bits and pieces and phrases and URLs all scattered in a file. That file started to get big and unwieldy and I recently switched to book writing software called Scrivener that let me organize my thoughts. When I made an actual business plan with the help of an specialized app called LivePlan, it was easy to move the pieces of content into place.
Finally, I found a space. I looked around for about 4 months. It took two months to get to the point of signing a lease…and that brings me up to today.
I want to reiterate that input from all sorts of people – folks who are potential participants but also those who don’t even know what a coworking space is, or that independent classes exist – was really important to this process. If you can’t explain your idea clearly at the onset, when you open doors, people are not going to know why they should buy what you are selling.
If you are in the SF Bay Area and want to know more, I’m going to have a meeting on June 20 so you can ask questions, join the Society, or volunteer to help out. I’ll have more details about the meeting soon, and announce it here, via my Twitter account (@rena_tom) and on the new account too (@MakeshiftSoc).