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Shared workspace trend comes to Santa Clarita

Local entrepreneurs open premiere cooperative workspace in the suburbs

Posted: May 10, 2011 4:20 p.m.
Updated: May 10, 2011 6:30 p.m.
Kreativ Cooperative Workspace allows designers, programmers, writers, photographers and other budding professionals to work together in a shared environment. Kreativ Cooperative Workspace allows designers, programmers, writers, photographers and other budding professionals to work together in a shared environment.
Kreativ Cooperative Workspace allows designers, programmers, writers, photographers and other budding professionals to work together in a shared environment.

Nathan Ryan and Antonio Diaz didn't yet know each other. Day after day, they would hunt for a vacant table, pull out their respective laptops and work at Peet's Coffee & Tea. Ryan being the graphic designer and founder of Proxart, a nonprofit organization; Diaz being the founder and creative director at Artifice Studios, a boutique web design house.

The coffee shop wasn't home -- there weren't noisy kids or dirty laundry in "the office" -- and that made it an attractive place to work. But the espresso machines were loud, the Wi-Fi rarely worked and the chairs were uncomfortable.

After months of nodding hello to each other, the duo finally shook hands and exchanged business cards. Four short months later, Kreativ Cooperative Workspace was born -- out of the need to work more productively than a loud coffee shop, stuffy executive suite or lazy home environment might allow.

Conceptually, it's a venue for designers, programmers, writers, photographers and other budding professionals to work side-by-side where they could network, collaborate and enjoy a new-found camaraderie.

Shared and cooperative workspaces aren't a new concept. In fact, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles boast some of the most unique and creative workspaces around.

The intent behind Kreativ was to bring that same atmosphere -- typically only found in big cities -- to a suburb like Santa Clarita. After weeks of renovations, the facility opened in May, marking the only cooperative workspace of its kind in the region.

"What we've seen is essentially the gathering of people in like industries coming together under one roof and working side-by-side with one another -- sometimes on the same project," Diaz said.

"The energy is palpable. There's an excitement, a friendly competition among members. It's inspiring."

The founding duo says some members purchase a membership so they can focus on a project without distractions normally, while others simply want to work and socialize with other players in their industry.

"One of the pitfalls of being a freelancer is working as a silo, where you think everything you do is the greatest thing ever created," Ryan said. "We're seeing casual drive-by feedback and encouragement by fellow members to make a design, or a photo, or a project better than it previously was -- and that's pretty special."

The facility, located on Smyth Drive in Valencia, offers 24/7 secured and monitored access to a 4,200 square feet open floor plan which features open ceilings, three private offices, a conference room, a dedicated art gallery and classroom, a media production studio, as well as a communal workbar area.

Other amenities include free coffee and tea, free high-speed WiFi, a fully-furnished kitchenette and free conference room time for monthly and annual members.

Diaz elaborated on Kreativ's business structure.

"If you find inspiration at 2 in the morning, you can buy a $19 day pass online, quickly receive an email with your unique access keycode, and be working inside Kreativ a minute later."

"We want to empower people to work whenever they're most productive, without the limitations a traditional brick-and-mortar business might have," Ryan said.

And due to its versatility, Kreativ is seeing interest, not only from individuals in the freelance community, but from corporations who are sending employees to work at incubators and co-ops like Kreativ, as well.

Many companies now realize the value of their employees working in an environment where they're able to be productive and immerse themselves in a creative, tech-savvy culture at the same time. This workshifting culture -- whether telecommuting or simply working away from the office -- is very much alive at Kreativ.

"Fortune 500 organizations, film crews, and even local churches have toured Kreativ and love the facility's versatility," Ryan said. "It's interesting to see how people are using Kreativ -- some for conference calls, some for day-long brainstorming sessions, and others just to meet off-site in a new environment for a change of scenery."

What's more, the region's only cooperative workspace intends to be regarded as a valuable community asset. The founders believe Kreativ plays an important role in a new start-up business' growth.

Diaz, who owns a boutique web design studio, is familiar with the challenges many entrepreneurs face.

"When you're first starting out, you don't have the luxury of your own office space," he said. "We see Kreativ as a stepping stone from your kitchen table to the big time. It's a place to call home, it puts you side-by-side entrepreneurs like yourself, and really motivates you to keep working hard. But most of all, there aren't any long-term or binding contracts."

Another example of the lack of traditional barriers, Kreativ offers several membership packages -- ranging from the flexibility of a 24-hour pass to longer-term monthly or annual options.

One member, Susan Fujiki -- a writer and somewhat of a local Twitter celebrity -- commented on what makes Kreativ so special.

"I need to get away from the everyday. I can't work from home, as I get bogged down in daily life," said Fujiki. "As a writer, I need to have my mind uncluttered so amazing things happen.

"Last week here, I got more writing done in a day than I had in the past week. The place is energized with brilliant people who want to -- and are doing -- brilliant things."

About Kreativ Cooperative Workspace, LLC
Based in the heart of Valencia, Calif., Kreativ Cooperative Workspace is a modern and creative venue that exists to empower freelancers, small business owners and new start-ups in and around Santa Clarita.


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