Charlotte Kirby of The Village Hive was interviewed by Joanna Cabalquinto on July 23, 2018.
Prior to opening The Village Hive, Charlotte worked in the corporate world for the government and health care. However, she felt boxed in by these jobs that did not allow her to use her creative mind to its full extent. When she made the switch to consulting, she found herself missing colleagues and the office atmosphere.
While consulting, she visited another coworking space in Toronto and loved it which inspired her journey. That is when she remembered a beautiful old school house nearby her house. While consulting, she thought it would be cool to see what was in the space.
Charlotte drove by the old school house so many times, always wondering what was going on in it. She saw lease signs go up and down all the time. As soon as she saw the space she loved it.
The building is about a three minute walk to the main street. On the main street there are restaurants and cafes so there is no need to drive to get lunch or hang out outside of the space. The building also has a parking lot close to some of the major highways making it easy to get to.
Taking the Leap
Charlotte’s biggest motivator was her desire for more freedom surrounding her career. She always had a lot of ideas but there was too much red tape to get around which became really frustrating. She just felt she could be successful while doing something on her own and wanted to give it a try.
The journey has been a huge rollercoaster but she is lucky to have a supportive husband. She also finds support in her members. They often tell her how great the space is and what an impact it has had on them. Their positive feedback helps her keep going on days she feels unsure of herself. Charlotte learned that you always get out of the low points of owning a business. She knows when it is time to take some time away from work and do something else. But, for the most part, Charlotte loves coming in to work and seeing everyone in the space.
Challenges and Lessons Learned
When Charlotte got the space back in November 2015, she did not receive any funding at all — not from a lack of trying. All money came out of her personal savings. So, she asked around to gauge interest and got a lot of positive responses.
Since Charlotte went from having a full time job with benefits to consulting, she had some money coming in. However, she hoped that once she opened, there would be more doors open to her for funding. What she found was that most funding for women went towards technology. Although, she is very passionate about what she does, not being able to pay yourself is hard. The lack of funding really drove her to keep members coming. That way, she could at least cover the overhead and not have to keep taking from her own money. On the bright side, as coworking grows more and more, governments are taking notice of spaces and realizing that they are important.
Until she can recieve that funding, is constantly looking at extra sources of revenue to make more profit. One of the best ways she does this is by the marketplace she recently opened. Basically, Charlotte went to home depot, bought crates, and painted them for people to rent. In the marketplace, people can bring in items and rent a showcase. This gives local entrepreneurs the opportunity to show off their products. While this is just starting to take off, she has had a lot of interest in it.
Charlotte runs the space on her own. She has not employed a full-time team to help her with the day-to-day tasks. However, occasionally, she will have a high school co-op student come in and help. Her most recent co-op student has helped with putting together an operations manual. This is something she wished she had completed in the beginning instead of having to work backwards. However, now that she has everything concrete and ready for any one who might come in to work for her, Charlotte has the confidence that the business will be a lot easier moving forward.