The Collective Startup Story
I began my career in 2007 after attending Sheridan College, Interior Design Program. I worked in the industry for Interior Design Firms, large and small. In 2010, found myself working for a small millwork shop that shared a building on Sismet Rd Mississauga, with a commercial construction firm and a stone fabrication company. This indispensable opportunity allowed me to work with many of the moving parts of a construction project, and share resources.
My Co-founder, Rocco was the owner of these companies, and shared in my enthusiasm and energy of building projects using all the assets at our disposal. In 2011, as business partners, We opened Carriage lane Design Build, specializing in Residential Design and construction, and were lucky enough to have a contract with an HGTV tv show, and projects from the networks we both brought to the table.
Our office was in the same building that Rocco housed his other businesses to maintain overhead costs and shared resources. That same year, we slowly found our team growing and we were able to do so by taking up more space in the building while still keeping our network and partners together.
By 2017, we had outgrown the building we shared. I wanted to take Carriage Lane to the next level and in a space more reflective of our design style and move closer to our clients in the city. We started looking around Toronto, in the design district, but didn't at the time find much that fit our needs;
Parking, Access for deliveries, and Amenities
We had a hard time finding options that met our needs, but we also recognized we needed at least $30,000-50,000 to renovate and furnish an office of at least 1000 sqft. At that point, It was hard to leave the easy convenience and low cost of where we were housed now, vs all the costs and maintenance on us.
While we were on the look out, I was hearing from other designers that I socialized with that this was also an issue plaguing them. They wanted to grow out of their home offices but were concerned with the commitments, and cost by those that had scared us with their experience and spend price.
Going through this process, and realizing that these issues affected many others, we put our heads together to find a solution that would offer not just the opportunity to bring our overhead cost of running a business down, but for others as well to build a community centred on the design and build industry .
We tested our theory at IDS Toronto in Jan 2019, and got the last booth available 3 weeks before the show. We designed a mini version of what we wanted to build, and the show was a success! We had built in fans, loving the idea and getting it right away! We made great connections and started a network effect! By the spring, we had secured a building, secured a wait list with deposits and began building!
What I learnt for the last 10 years was you are stronger amongst your peers then apart. Being in that shared building on Sismet Rd created invaluable relationships in an industry that is already hard and plagued with challenges and isolation.