During the first year of the pandemic, I sat alone in our empty storefront office in the up-and-coming beach town of Encinitas. What was once known as a “hippie town”, has turned into a gentrified beach town filled with surfers, yogis, Instagram models, and van life folks. However, the laid-back culture of the town meant there wasn’t a forum for facilitating conversations filled with creative expression, innovation, and challenging thinking.
While I understand the philosophy of “build it and they will come”, throughout the life of thinkPARALLAX, I’ve recognized an opportunity and then evolved my thinking and the offerings and positioning of the business to meet the needs of the marketplace. This time, we created Perspectives Space intending to open a community space offered to individuals and organizations who are dedicated to bringing more purpose, positive impact, and meaningful conversations to the community. We created the space before the apparent need.
So, what happened?
The short answer is, it worked. With relatively little marketing, a simple microsite and an Instagram page we’ve grown the space, to a multi-use, nearly fully occupied community gathering place that also serves as an office for the local thinkPARALLAX employees. And the space nearly covers our costs, to boot.
I realized the space is doing several things that I hadn’t anticipated:
Providing a resource
While having low fees, budding artists, creators, and entrepreneurs have used the space for as little as 2 hours to kick off their project or program. This allows them to access a creative space without the expense of renting a full-time space for their creations.
Almost all the events are open to the public at low or no cost. There is a beautiful cross-pollination of folks using the space for a meditation class to then stay for the art show happening that evening. People are coming for the space, and staying for the opportunity to connect.
Supporting local artists, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and creators
We’ve had over 50 events in the last year. Brands have partnered with non-profits, art shows benefit those in need, and more unique ideas were implemented in the space than I could not have imagined when I was alone in the space a year ago.
Encouraging creativity and innovation
This simply goes without saying. I’ve witnessed conversations that turned into ideas that were implemented on the wall or viewed through the projector months later. Creators seeing and hearing others' ideas lights a spark, and the next idea is born.
Fostering social engagement and inclusiveness
Our key has been to focus on purpose, not profit. By keeping the costs low folks take care of the space, spread the word, and enable the usage price to remain low but occupancy high.
And you know what else? While most of the thinkPARALLAX staff lives outside of Encinitas, because of the mixed-use design, we are still able to roll our desks and chairs and work in the same space. Only now, our costs are nearly covered and at the end of the work day. Instead of closing up shop, we can open our doors to our neighbors and community to meet, connect, and vision a new ‘perspective’ of how we can change this lil town and the great big world.