Shared office spaces like WeWork are great for regular businesses, startups and entrepreneurs, but if you are a craftsperson who makes things, not so much.
“I make noise when I work,” says Justin Waldinger, founder of Bushwick-based Tap & Dye. The 38-year-old started his leather-crafting business in his Long Island City apartment nearly seven years ago. Not long after, orders for his custom, handmade camera straps came pouring in, so he expanded into his living room.
“The arrangement wasn’t ideal,” he says, noting that it wasn’t just lack of space that was a problem — hammering is part of Waldinger’s leatherworking process.He needed a separate, dedicated work area, but it was hard to find something that met his budget and filled his needs, since “most industrial spaces are way too big,” he says.
Rafael Alvarez experienced a similar problem when he ditched his civil-engineering job to pursue his passion — renovating and handcrafting custom tables and countertops out of wood. Alvarez’s initial workspace was a barn in upstate New York, but it was too far away from his customers and his home in Woodside, Queens. He searched the city for the right working space, but all he could find were overly expensive artist studios in Soho, or reasonably priced places elsewhere that weren’t even up to code.