People Behind the Space: The Workshop
Meet Girl Boss Kristen from The Workshop, community-centric coworking space
Founded in early 2017, The Workshop is a community-centric coworking space - home to ambitious creatives and socially conscious businesses eagar to make a positive change for the planet.
We catch up with girl boss Kristen Wonch from The Workshop in Grey Lynn to chat about what's behind the vibrant green door - including where it all started and what makes the space so unique to other coworking spaces. We also touch on Kristen's amazing passion and commitment to helping the empowerment of women entrepreneurs and supporting the growth of the next generation (leadership development initiatives for school-aged girls).
Where did it all start for The Workshop?
How everything starts (right?) - as a side project! I was running a digital business with limited customer contact and I realised I was getting most of my energy from my customer follow-up calls. I love hearing what people are working on, where they're heading, what they're struggling with and helping them solve problems. My home office also clearly wasn't working for me. Somehow there seemed to be an endless supply of items in the fridge needing to be eaten or things around the house that needed urgent cleaning.
Since moving to Auckland a few years ago, I had tried a few coworking spaces and none of them gave me the sense of community I had been craving. My business partner at the time and I had an opportunity on a building that was 'too good to be true'. Turns out it was. By the time that deal fell over, we had set in motion something much bigger than us. We were excited by the idea of building a space that was down to earth, inclusive and uniquely supportive.
Now the community has a life of its own and everyday I get to see our residents make connections, create collabs and really thrive. It's epic.
What makes The Workshop unique to other coworking spaces?
We're like a family. We really support one another. Our community is purpose-driven, which means they care about people, the planet and their mission. It's a community of conscious businesses, teams and entrepreneurs. We also love any excuse to act like a kid. We recently celebrated a big milestone with a 90's themed dress up party and a pinata. We don't take ourselves too seriously.
Why do you think working from a coworking space helps people thrive?
Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey. It's challenging and rewarding in ways unparalleled by other experiences. Coworking is not only a way to connect like-minded people, but it's a place to share those challenges and wins. It's a place to bounce ideas around, ask for help and cultivate genuine relationships with people who really get you. When I look up from my desk and see people high five-ing or laughing over coffee, it makes my day.
What other ventures are you also involved with?
Everything else I'm focused on at the moment is all about empowering women. I'm passionate about supporting women entrepreneurs to develop their mindset and business acumen and move the needle for women globally. We've launched an event series this year designed to do just that. I'm working with two awesome women to plan a transformational women's retreat or next summer. (Watch this space!).
What sort of workshops and community events do you run to keep everyone motivated and connected?
We have a big focus on wellbeing and connection. We offer community lunches, smoothie breakfasts, yoga and reiki weekly for our residents. Some of the evening events include mindfulness workshops, comedy mixers, events that support conscious business, and TEDxAuckland community events.
Tell us a bit about your commitment to helping the next generation grow?
We've provided scholarships to high school girls or our women's empowerment events this year. We're also supporting Girl Boss NZ, which is an awesome group run by a talented young woman. We sponsor event space for any initiatives that are aligned with that goal and I would encourage people to get in touch if they'd like to take that up.
What tips would you pass on to someone thinking about starting their own coworking space?
1. Build demand before you launch. Pre-selling seats in advance is a way to prove demand and generate revenue before you've put any skin in the game. If you have a compelling vision, a clear niche and a viable plan to execute, you should be able to get people on board.
2. Have a well defined niche. With heaps of spaces popping up all over the country (and globally), you need a way to be different. Know exactly why you're unique and how to communicate that to the market.
3. Focus on your community. Invest time to make your customer experience exceptional. I've spent countless hours walking through our customer journey and am constantly trying to improve this. Airbnb's 10-star experience is the perfect example of a company that's nailed it. How can you make people feel amazing from the moment they walk through the door? What are they thinking, feeling and doing at every step along the way? How can you improve that?
Can you describe your life outside of work?
For me, work and life are one and the same. And I love that! We've just cracked a year in business, which is still pretty fresh. There's a lot to do, which means I spend heaps of time on the business. And, as cliche as it sounds, it doesn't feel like work. I get excited by creating new things, improving our processes and (yup!) even running through the finances (I'm a total nerd when it comes to numbers).
I'm also an activity junkie so those are my non-negotiables. Surfing, rock climbing, and acro yoga are some of my faves.
What are some of the most played songs in your office playlist?
If I had my way, it would be drum and bass but it never seems to make the cut! Mellow beats and coffee house are pretty popular. We've also need known to jam out to some classic 90's pop. Nothing like a little Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys or TLC to make Mondays a little more exciting.
Interested in joining The Workshop community? Click here to view their listing on Sharedspace.co.nz for more details.