The Red House Co-working Space was one of the Start Up Mendocino winners on August 25, 2019. West Center was interested to know how COVID-19 had affected their nascent business and find out what business owners Lia Wilson and Scarlett Trillia have been up to over the past year. On a recent phone call, we spoke with Lia and Scarlett.
Q: How did you utilize the prize money?
At the time of Start Up, I (Lia) had a two-month old infant so attending classes had its challenges. We decided the prize money was best invested in making sure Scarlett and I could get to West Centerâ€™s classes and sessions, and provide for child care while I was in class. So, gas (from Fort Bragg to Ukiah) and expenses were the main ways we used the prize money. It enabled us to participate fully in Start Up Mendocino.
Q: Before March when COVID and Shelter in place occurred how were you addressing your operations?
Red House works kind of like a gym. Our clients purchase a monthly membership for different levels of co-working space. We built our business model kind of like an airline, where we would book to gain the most income out of every desk space. Before the pandemic, we had a great regular group of people who used the space to work and network. Since COVID hit, weâ€™ve had to adjust the physical space in the house to accommodate fewer people at a social distance. Our numbers are down by about 50% but thatâ€™s starting to change.
Q: Over the past year what lessons have you learned about yourself as a business owner ?
We learned to stay the course and keep things going. Weâ€™ve also been financially conservative, which has helped us through this hiccup. We shut down for a while but then realized that we arenâ€™t open to the public anyway and not being open wasnâ€™t doing us any good. For our clients who live in wi-fi-comprised areas it was a disservice as they couldnâ€™t run their own businesses. One of the upsides right now is that weâ€™re seeing more out-of-area people using the Red House! Iâ€™d say that 50% of our current clients are out of towners. People from, say, the Bay Area are relocatingâ€“â€“ theyâ€™re used to going into an office or networking space and realizing that theyâ€™re already working remotely so why not work from somewhere beautiful?
Q; What is your fondest memory of the Start Up program? And whatâ€™s your biggest takeaway?
Our fondest memory is the continued connection we maintain with a couple of people from the class, in particular Alberto, whoâ€™s fixed my phone and will be working on my computer. Weâ€™ve also worked with the folks from MendoVoice. So the best memory is the people. The biggest takeaway is that we were able to develop a few key phrases and analogies to describe our business. Having to condense what the Red House is to a 5-minute pitch helped us think about the â€œlike a gym for networkingâ€ concept.
Q: Is there one thing you have done since Start Up that changed your approach to business?
Not really. Weâ€™ve realized that the business model we came up with before Startup has turned out to be pretty solid and weâ€™re looking forward to a rosy Red House future!
West Center is looking forward to the opportunity to hold a second Start Up Mendocino so we can continue to assist and support small business owners like Lia and Scarlett. If you have an idea for a small business opportunity, call us today to speak with one of our expert advisors. Our services are free! Call 707-964-7571 or click here to get started.