Natalie and Melissa | From Corporate Minions to a Soulful Meeting Space
By Eleni Meraki
We are two sisters who grew up in Sydney Australia. We both followed two completely different career paths, I (Natalie) was part of the corporate world and Melissa has always been in and around creative industries. We tried a few different roles but always felt like something was missing. We would see people around us and on social media breaking out on their own and always wondered, "Could we ever do that?".
Amsterdam was the first place in Europe we ever visited and we instantly fell in love! Our move didn’t happen until 5 years later when all the stars finally aligned and received our European citizenship through our Italian father.
5 THINGS ABOUT
nurturers | dreamers | goof balls | feminists | plant mamas
LEAP OF FAITH
There is no better trigger to make a change in your life then moving a million miles away from home. We have always given our all in every job we have had. Then one day we woke up and decided that we wanted to give our everything to something that would be ours. We had been thinking about starting a business together for quite some time but it wasn't until I (Natalie) went through burn out in 2017 that it made me realise it was now or never!
We spent over six months of conceptualising, researching and freaking the hell out. We spoke a lot together about our deepest wishes and things we genuinely enjoyed in our current jobs. We gave each other feedback on our strengths and weaknesses and eventually after taking all the ego out of it we decided that what we truly wanted to do was just to make people happy. Then the ideas for making a space that could do that started turning into a reality.
We picked up the keys to our empty canal house, ready to start the next chapter, a couple of months down the line.
YOUR SPACE AMSTERDAM
Your Space Amsterdam is a place to become more aware of yourself, and one another. It is a one-of-a-kind, three story canal house designed for meetings, workshops and gatherings of any kind.
People are calling for more innovation, new ideas, and systems-change. At the same time, more and more people are struggling to feel their best at work. By removing people from the noise of their 9-5, and creating an inspiring, plant filled environment in which people are nurtured, Your Space helps people to collaborate and think differently.
Our idea really started coming to life after some self-retrospection about what we had enjoyed in our past roles and reflection about what was missing. Once we had an idea of what we really loved and wanted to do we used the Lean Canvas model to validate that there was a need in the market. This eventually turned into our business plan, which was about 15 pages long.
We saw a need for meeting spaces with an soulful and nurturing environment where you would receive genuine support so you can focus on your workshop or event only. We also wanted to create a space for all these amazing individuals with unique ideas in order to help bring these ideas to life!
We love making people feel comfortable. Supported. Looked after. We hope this will help contribute to people doing world changing and life changing things. Using our strengths and skills we believe we can be a part of that change by giving those people our inspiring space and therefore the opportunity to do so!
We needed to get additional financing for our start up costs. Having a brick and mortar business that really relies on its looks to get clients in the door, meant that we had to spend a lot more than initially thought to get the space looking exactly the way we wanted it to.
We had to invest in (unplanned) renovations, furnishings and equipment all before we could even start advertising that the space existed.
The first step to get this additional financing was to show our business plan to potential investors. We were extremely privileged and had some family members that wanted to invest.
Financially it has been up and down with us having good months and bad but all in all we are really proud that we are able to support ourselves already from our business. We pay ourselves minimum wage and are trying our best to build up some savings so we have a little back up support.
THE TOUGH TIMES
Renovations took us 5 times longer then expected! In turn, we couldn't start marketing until the space was completely set up so we were a bit delayed in starting to build our customer base which we didn't budget for!
Going from sisters to business partners has been an interesting and challenging transition. Finding our new dynamic and working to each of our strengths has been challenging!
Entrepreneurship is exhausting. No one can really prepare you for the emotional roller coaster of owning your own indie business. We have worked 80 hour weeks that are exhausting but at least mean that financially you are doing well. Or on the opposite side have quiet weeks which are sometimes a godsend (because we can relax a little) but then you have the worry and anxiety of not being paid. There is always the fear of the unknown in a new business. Will people keep coming back? Do they actually like the space? Will we get more bookings for the month? Can we pay all our expenses? Exhausting!
5 INSIDER TIPS
Let go of your perfectionism. It doesn't have to be perfect at the beginning. It’s hard to have a vision and put it out in the world before you think it’s ready, but that’s exactly how you learn and become better. You have to live it before you can truly understand that what you think is perfect isn't necessarily what your customers want. It’s all about just taking that first big step, and working the rest out as you go!
Write an actual business plan and try to be really critical. You really need to be solving a problem and should get as clear as possible on how you plan to do that.
Validate your idea as much as you can.
Do not rush the process. If you are burned out – don’t feel guilty for not feeling amazing. Invest your time on getting better, wallow if you need to wallow for a little bit. Relax and try to feel better before actually taking the leap.
Starting your own business is very challenging. Don’t beat yourself up for making those inevitable mistakes and remember that they are all just lessons learned.
WRITTEN BY Eleni meraki
Eleni is the founder of Guts & Tales. She is a hypnotherapist, mind-trainer, coach and creator of the women’s coaching program Be Your Own Muse. She helps women become clear, confident and courageous to be and live true to themselves.