Written by Kay Dee and originally published in Austin Startups.
My dream has always been to work from home as a graphic designer, but little did I know, it’s not as great as it sounds. It certainly has its perks but what many people don’t realize is the extent to which you are constantlyalone.
When I worked from home, it was hard to differentiate home from work. It all blended together. It killed my productivity, creativity and I was always distracted by dishes, laundry, naps, cats, etc.
Then, I heard about coworking, but I wasn’t sure why I would pay for a desk when the one at home is just fine. Still, I knew I wasn’t completely satisfied. I decided to try it for a month anyway just to say that I tried. After a few days, I absolutely loved it (more on that later)! Once I was plugged into the space not only did my productivity skyrocket, I kept coming up with ideas of how and what I would do if I had my own cowork. I imagined a comfortable yet professional setting, a dash of creativity, an array of sit-to-stand desks, bouncy chairs, free premium coffee (& beer) and super-fast reliableinternet. I was dreaming about how I could organize events for entrepreneurs, masterminds for freelancers, and… well, my ideas just never stopped. 🙂
So, why did I open MELD Coworking?
Community. Location. Benefits. Amenities. Comfort. All of that! But, why would I strive to create my own space, personally? Because I love being around people. It brings me joy to provide tools and services to other entrepreneurs to flourish together, to create relationships through collaboration. The concept of coworking is just amazing — connecting people who work from home, providing office amenities necessary to thrive, and facilitating support from professional resources.
How & why in Central Austin?
With Austin booming, there’s not a lot of available options. Luckily, I found a few properties that sounded promising. As it happened, the very first property I visited is now MELD! At the time, it looked nothing like it does now. I mean, nothing. The house that is now the home to MELD was built residentially in the 1920s, and it was literally falling apart because it was poorly maintained. Despite its outward appearance, I just knew it had amazing potential for the space I dreamed of! It took 1 year and 4 months of renovation and remodeling to officially open as the coworking space you see today. It wasn’t always easy but that’s another story…
Selfishly, I wanted to co-work in Central Austin and to enjoy the convenience of walking to restaurants, bars, and retail shops. Being focused on community not only within our walls but in the neighborhood too, I talked with many local folks and discovered they were highly supportive of the concept too. It all came together. How amazing would it be to work from a place like home, take a lunch break with friends and casually stroll to check out the new eatery next door? Bonus: it has parking too? Done!
What does MELD look like now?
MELD is so Austin! It keeps as much of the original layout as possible and features a variety of rooms and nooks to work from. Some areas are bright with numerous windows, some are more dimly lit, in some you can listen to music and chit chat, other areas are completely quiet (with a hint of white noise) to allow for concentration. We use some rooms for events that are organized at least once a week, others for business meetings, and a few private booths for phone calls. You can choose whatever spot suits you for the day, then change it up the very next day!
The future of MELD
We’re continuing to grow our fantastic community with the plan to feature an expanding variety of entrepreneurs and freelancers who can collaborate, work, and grow together. Example: Are you a coding genius but need a little design help for your new website? Odds are there’s someone across the room from you who would be more than willing to help you out. And vice versa. The people around us offer fresh, outside opinions, ideas and assistance that we might not find in our company’s office, as well as have the potential to turn into future clients or partners. There is also the power of positive reviews. The people around us are aware of our work ethic, quality of work we produce, and could potentially need a service of ours. The close-knit relationships that are bound to form will likely lead to some of our best reviews, references and word-of-mouth marketing.
There is a constant opportunity for learning and growth in MELD, as well as the opportunity to be a part of a new community. It’s an overall sense of connection that just can’t be replicated inside of a home office. Plus, working alone can be drab, so a little bit of community goes a long way in enjoying your career.
I like to think of it like this: you can make coffee at home, enjoy coffee at a local coffee shop, or enjoy a coffee with friends at the local coffee shop. Well, MELD is the working equivalent of coffee with friends!