The Big Idea: A shared space with two businesses blossoming

The trend towards business “hot-desking,” or office space sharing, is quickly gaining momentum. 

It’s a global movement that’s changing the face of startup offices, providing a collaborative, efficient and often times inspiring environment. But what about new businesses that don’t operate out of an office? Nicolette Richer, owner of The Green Mustache, and Paula Jeffers, owner of 3 Singing Birds, had both been on exhaustive searches for the right space to start their businesses. When neither had success finding a suitable location with a level of rent that was affordable the two friends took a page out of the co-working book and came up with the idea to share an ideal space that had come available in Whistler’s Marketplace.

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While neither of them could have taken on the full space on their own, by joining forces they were able to make their businesses a reality under the same roof. The move to share a space of course cuts costs, but there are plenty of other advantages to coupling these two separate businesses into one collaborative space.

Blending juice and philosophy

Like Paula and Nicolette, the two businesses are a comfortable fit, complementing one another beautifully. Homegrown ethics and a shared philosophy behind their offerings unite these two businesses. At the core of both is a commitment to quality, handcrafted products. The unique symbiosis created here results in a space to nourish both the both body and soul.

For Paula, a clothing designer by trade who brings years of experience hand crafting knitwear for high fashion in London, her collection of treasures at 3 Singing Birds represents gathering of small design companies with the emphasis on local, reclaimed, upcycled materials that will stand the test of time. There is a strong commitment to the longevity of goods here. For Nicolette at The Green Moustache it’s about the longevity of health via organic, healthy nourishment.

The harmony between these two carries through to the physical space and a great collaborative energy is reflected in the design here. They essentially reclaimed the space by getting things back down to the bare minimum and what you see now is a product of peeling back layers of flooring and chipping away tiles. This handmade, industrial, raw look suits the character of their businesses where the only thing that separates the two is a rustic sliding wooden divide that rolls open and closed depending on differing hours of operation between the two.

Feeding their community and each other

With The Green Mustache fuelling a healthy mountain lifestyle and 3 Singing Birds connecting the community to homegrown artistic talent, this union is feeding the needs of their community, but also feeding off one another. They can attract customers together, but additionally, with one stop for the customer, they can offer more together than if they were to strike out on their own.
Not only do the two businesses cultivate customers for each other, but they noted that part of the appeal of the Marketplace location was the entrepreneurial spirit in the area. As much as there is a collective energy within their four walls, the positive vibes of the entrepreneurial spirit are strong in surrounding businesses in this corner of The Village. They drew inspiration from other longstanding local businesses around them in the Marketplace and down Main Street. Their hope is that the more unique businesses thrive in the area, the more customers will flock there.

The art of collaboration

The value placed on collaboration filters from the top through to their teams. Both bosses know the power that comes from combining talent and therefore, put priority on tapping into the talents of their staff.

In The Green Mustache, many staff study nutrition, health and wellness. They can come to work and learn each day, but also use the location to run their own workshops in the evenings. Other team members with skills like graphic design are encouraged to contribute their talents to the business. Every person who works in 3 Singing Birds makes something to be offered in store. Paula’s staff has produced beautiful goods from dream catchers, to baby shoes and a popular card collection. Staff connects to the business on a deeper level when their personal experiences are woven into the success of the business.

Nicolette and Paula on their shared-space success:

“For us this is an environment charged with energy and fresh homegrown ideas. Our collaboration afforded us the ability to take the gamble to do what we love,” said Paula.

“We hope others in this community can have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. If you know your market and get creative you can make happen,” added Nicolette.
Make business easy — tune in to The Big Idea, a biweekly column from the Whistler Chamber of Commerce showcasing a Whistler business innovating in their sector. 

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