Most creative entrepreneurs have at some point a decision to make to further their careers-make the leap to an office space or retail environment outside their home. And for me, this happened early in 2006- we lived in a small apartment in Andersonville and my business was run from my dining room table, interns and (some) clients came to my home while the kids were at school, and stacks of envelope boxes started to grow themselves under the windows and on the bookshelf. It was a huge leap of faith to decide to rent a shared office with Goldfish MC, and Caroline took over the rental on Ravenswood, renting to me and two other businesses. It was an exciting time and I furnished the conference area with flea market and alley finds, all painted a cohesive white. It was a huge step for my business and I embarked on a new social stationery line, was featured for the first time in Style Me Pretty, Real Simple, and eventually Martha Stewart. It was convenient too, as this building was 3 minutes from each of my sons' schools, my printer was right downstairs and I learned a more focused and systematic way of working. You can read about that on my post for the Forth Blog We worked like this for about a 1 1/2 years, until we lost those two renters and Caroline and I decided to move into where I ultimately stayed for 9 years: a smaller former recording studio down the hall.
I always had an office mate, from Goldfish, to Estera Events, to Across the Table, to most recently, Nimble Well. Kelly stayed for maybe five years, and then after realizing that being a new mom, homeowner, and running over to Ravenswood every day wasn't the most convenient, decided to move her business at the beginning of the summer. Maybe this was the beginning of the inkling to move out. Coming to the office every day was starting to feel less inspiring. It was too quiet. My kids didn't go to school down the street anymore. Both my printers moved. For the first time, in 9 years, it just wasn't feeling right.
This summer and year has been a real time of change for me personally. I've been working on so many things, and have slowly started to trust my intuition in a deeper way. and this is the reason: I've learned that my creative is voice is strong, and while sometime you don't know why to take a certain step, your heart, gut, intuition, whatever you want to call it, is always right. Often, I've chosen not to listen to it for a variety of reasons: fear usually, fear of making poor business decisions, fear of losing money, etc. At the beginning of the year I had a health scare, which while I'm fine, made me make decisions about my overall health care and lifestyle choices. My mortality was in question, and I started taking my inner voice more seriously. I scheduled that trip to France to learn perfumery. We made going to El Salvador a priority in August. Both of these trips might have sparked a new direction my creative career is taking. (more on that soon) And, when that voice said, move the business to the attic, it didn't take long for me to listen. I wanted to put more energy into my home. I wanted to spend more time here. I didn't have a practical reason at first, but decided to listen to that voice.
I gave notice end of July and was able to break my lease early-turns out plenty of people wanted our space. I knew I needed a deadline and so it was set for October 1st. Demo started on the attic, and by that, it meant that I gave the boys hammers and they went to town on the 80s cabinetry. But then the strict schedule I put in place to have a new office space by October 1st fell apart: We went to El Salvador at the beginning of August. Seth got a mystery illness/fever that lasted 10 days. My father's health took a drastic turn for the worse and I travelled home to spend 5 days by his side before he passed away on Labor Day Weekend. After he died, I continued the attic demo. It was therapy, up there in the heat, sweating, ripping up carpet, hauling down debris and ultimately, uncovering 110 year old pine floors. Something that fueled an essay I read at his memorial about what he taught me, and rebuilding.
More setbacks: we encountered mildew under the rafters and while we had replaced the roof two years ago so the water leak had stopped, we didn't know the extent of the damage. So all the insulation is out, the floor boards are up and the debris has been hauled away. The mold was sprayed and scraped. Now I knew I wasn't moving in the attic October 1st, and resigned myself to our spare room on the second floor, clearing space in the basement for my office furniture and storage.
But we had to travel again, for my dad's memorial, the same weekend I was scheduled to move out. So we moved the office a few days early and the next day boarded a plane for LA. That was two weeks ago, and I'm just settling into a routine in my temporary space while we continue the work upstairs, but I love my little cozy nook. I can tell I'm getting into a routine, which includes doing something for the home (meal planning, clean something, start a load of laundry) before settling into my little nook by 9am (preferably showered- it is so easy to sit down to work before getting ready for the day).
On days I have meetings, I leave the house by 7am, first dropping Charlie off at school in the South Loop, and head over to my new co-working space at Soho House, with either my yoga clothes or swimsuit in my bag, a charged laptop, and a curated collection of paper samples, ribbons, and wax seals, and settle in to a new meeting day routine at arguably the prettiest space in the West Loop.
I can tell this new working situation is working. Creating a new space for myself (both in the temporary office and the attic) is fueling my creative energy, I feel lighter, I'm writing again, built a new inspiration board, reading more, and feeling excited about new projects and clients. And not for a minute have I regretted leaving my pretty light filled space on Ravenswood.
This could very well be a temporary place to be while all the change circle around me. I don't really know why I'm supposed to be here, but I know home is where I'm supposed to be right now. I listened to that voice and here I am, cozy, at home, writing this blog post from my bed. Maybe that's not the most professional thing to reveal. But it's working for me.