Last week I had the incredible opportunity to sit down with Rachel Kelly, the founder of Make Lemonade; a Toronto based, female focused co-working space, to talk about her entrepreneurial journey.
On Adelaide street west, the Make Lemonade office looks nothing like I had imagined from the outside. The buildings entrance was small, white and altogether quite unassuming. However, the moment I stepped off the elevator I was greeted by a bright, beautiful and well curated office space. This was the Make Lemonade I had seen in pictures and that I had envisioned in my head. The space has lots of natural light, pops of colour incorporated throughout the space, and an altogether friendly energy.
How would you describe Make Lemonade to someone who has never heard of it?
Make Lemonade is a co-working space for women in the heart of downtown Toronto. We’re kind of like a breath of fresh air when you come in. We’re kind of hidden in the city and once you come in you’re like – how did I not know about this place? It’s a space where you can come as you are.
If you want to show up in your pajamas, your sweatpants, your yoga outfit or if you want to come in looking like a total boss – whatever that means to you, you’re welcome here. you can come to get shit done, have lunch, chat with new friends or come for an event. It’s really a space that supports what you need to do that day.
You studied ‘New Media’ at Ryerson – what does that entail?
New Media is essentially creating art using technology. It’s kind of like using coding and robotics and tech to produce art pieces, data visualization, all sorts of things – but I never identified as being an artist. I was more like a curator. I saw the bigger picture. I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur but I never really acted upon any of that stuff when I was in school. It wasn’t until like later on when I was kind of like, I’m not really happy with my current situation. I started meeting really cool people and I was like – you’re so aspirational, I want to live a life like you.
You can come to get shit done, have lunch, chat with new friends or come for an event. It’s really a space that supports what you need to do that day.
What did you envision for yourself doing post-grad?
I think I only just had like a vision of myself power walking to places. I was a woman on a mission and that’s all. I didn’t know where I was going, I didn’t know who was going to be in the room or anything. I was so much more in tune with the vision of myself – looking and feeling good to myself, rather than knowing where I was going.
Do you have any insights for co-working spaces? Is it a growing industry?
Co-working definitely. So many other companies – even the banks are moving to a more shared, co-working style. The way everything is going is that people want to be able to work remotely or have more flexibility in their lifestyle to accommodate all the So different things that happen to them. Co-working is here to stay in whatever kind of format the future has.
Do you have any other advice for anyone who wants to start their own business?
Two things. One is just like this great quote by Pablo Picasso and its “Everything you can imagine is real”.
My other piece of advice is that you can always change and that can apply to anything. You may feel super stuck in something but there’s always a way for you to change your scenario or your perspective. The great parallel I draw to is that for me, I have a really long lease on this office building. And that may feel super scary, which sometimes it is. But then I go – it’s not impossible to get out of it, it’s just complicated.
By telling myself that and understanding that if I really wanted to get out of this I could. There’s always a way to pivot or change, and you know right now I love Make Lemonade but if one day and I’m like no, you know what it’s not for me anymore, I can always change – it’s complicated but it’s not impossible.
You may feel super stuck in something but there’s always a way for you to change your scenario or your perspective.
What do you love the most about what you do?
I was going to say that I’m the boss – It’s more that I’m the boss of my own life. I get to meet cool people, all the time. And the place that I work in super fun. I love the people that I work with, I love that my job is also like built-in friendships too.
I love that what we’re doing, way we run our business and the way so many other people are running their businesses – it’s just so inspirational to see other people who are living out a life that’s kind of against the traditional life or societal norm, and that’s totally ok and it’s totally working.
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