Sabrina Chammas solopreneur of L'Atelier Vancouver Coworking has created a fresh and innovative work space for people to collaborate, interact and be part of a community.
Q: Where were you raised/currently live?
A: I was raised between Montreal and Toronto until I was about 5 years old and then my family moved to Beirut, Lebanon which is where I grew up. At 17 I moved to Boston for college and then lived in Los Angeles for 4 and a half years. I now live in the West End in Vancouver and I love it!
Q: Do you have a background in visual arts?
A: Yes! I have a Masters in Fine Arts in Film Production from the University of Southern California. I produced many short films and documentaries before I decided to start my own coworking business.
Q: Explain the point in your life when L’Atelier all came together and really became a strong company?
A: When I lived in LA and was working on a documentary film in 2013, the production company had put me up in a coworking space in Venice Beach called NextSpace. It was an office space which allowed entrepreneurs, startup teams, freelancers, and contractors like me to have an affordable workspace and feel like they were part of a community. The time I spent there was awesome! Even though my job was super stressful and I was the only one from my team in the office most of the time, it felt good to be in a real office where I could connect with other people as opposed to being isolated at home. At that coworking space, I took my job and myself more seriously and was way more productive than I would have ever been working from home. This enjoyment only lasted a few months though and I was crushed when the production company stopped paying for my coworking membership and moved me to one of the producer's home office.
Since then, that feeling stuck with me and it got me day dreaming of working from a nicely designed work space with other creative people with whom I could share ideas and collaborate with. While Next Space was a really cool space, it looked a lot like any other regular office and not much design effort was put into it. Moreover, there were almost no other creatives in that space at the time, the majority were in the tech startup field (not that you can't get creative with tech). For a place like LA, I thought it was odd that there wasn't a space dedicated for creatives. A lot of freelancers have non-traditional jobs so why should they be working from a traditional looking office space?
In Nov 2015, I decided to act on this idea. I was going to create a space so nice that people who came in would rather spend time there rather than their own homes. 4 months have passed since L'Atelier's launch and now the business has become larger than me: It's really becoming a place for people to make valuable connections. find inspiration, and be productive.
Q: When did L’Atelier launch?
A: I created the company November 2015 but only secured a space April 1st 2016 and the spacewasn't ready until August 2016, which is when we opened.
Q: Is there anything you think that the company could improve on? Do you have any new upcoming ideas to enhance your company?
A: I am making improvements everyday. My goal right now is to become even better at community building and facilitate communication between members so that they can rely on each other for support.
Q: What is the meaning behind L’Atelier?
A: L'Atelier is french for "The Workshop". I chose this name because my first language is french and L'Atelier literally means a workspace for creatives, which is what we are!
Q: Do you see L’Atelier branching out into other parts of the world?
A: Possibly. I would have to take a completely different approach if I ever wanted to expand because I wouldn't be able to be in two spaces at once. I think being physically present at the space makes a huge difference because I get to build relationships with people that come in, see how the space is being used, how people interact and also be part of the community etc... If I can find a way to be as involved in a second location, I would go for it.
Q: You are the creative director for L’Atelier, what are some of your day to day tasks?
A: I am a solopreneur so I do everything for the business: marketing, bookkeeping, maintaining the space, community building, responding to inquires for events booking and membership sign ups etc... The most important part of my job though is finding new ways to keep my business relevant, fresh, and exciting.
Q: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
A: I would like to be a serial entrepreneur and run several businesses. My business is like my baby. It's still a new born now but eventually it'll grow and I could make room for more baby businesses.
Q: I think it’s amazing that you have created such a personal and collaborative space where business people and entrepreneurs can come together. Do you think that there is a lack of spaces like this in Vancouver/ can you talk about this for a bit?
A: Thanks! I don't necessarily think there is a lack of space but I definitely know there is a craving for belonging and being part of a strong community and there aren't too many spaces that allow for meaningful connections to happen naturally on a daily basis.
Q: Do you have anything else you want your viewers to know?
A: I would just like to encourage readers to feel free to contact us or drop in whenever they want (they can check our operating hours on our website). We do offer 1 day free trials and we're not an intimidating space. Many of our members are young and just starting out in their fields and many others are new to Vancouver. We have flexible options for freelancers on a budget and can even do hourly rates instead of monthly recurring fees.