"Even if you've done the research and proper preparation, you'll never feel like you're ready to press go, but it's amazing how much you can learn just by doing."

Each Wednesday we interview women in our community about innovation and what drives them to make a difference in their industries everyday!

What are you working on?

I love Canberra – it’s my hometown and I could spend all day talking about how great it is to live and work here – but one big setback for me is the lack of diverse, creative and community-minded places to work from as a creative business owner. I knew I wasn’t alone in my search – I’d rallied a small community together over the last few years and things starting really moving when I got introduced to my fellow co-founder Korske Ara in 2018 who was working towards a similar goal. After a huge amount of talking and planning, we opened our shared creative workplace Keep Co in the exciting new Dairy Road precinct out in Fyshwick last year, and it’s incredible to see the dream now exist in reality.

Keep Co brings together like-minded makers, creators, thinkers and doers and provide a place to support and build creative ideas. There’s an amazingly diverse mix of lovely folks in the space every day, including designers, jewellery makers, social media and PR gurus, photographers, landscape designers, researchers, consultants, engineers and film producers – all working on their own individual projects or collaborating on joint ventures under the one roof. We offer flexible memberships for those who aren’t working on their projects full-time and just need somewhere to drop in casually for a visit.

Why is innovation important to you?

Innovation is the biggest and best part of the creative process for me. Sketches and plans are great, but we wouldn’t get anywhere without actually kicking into gear and bringing this stuff to life. I wouldn’t have discovered my love for geometric three-dimensional papercraft without experimenting with my digital illustrations using 3D design software to discover a way to print and create a sculptural model from a 2D shape. I wouldn’t be a very good graphic designer if I didn’t use innovation in my client work – it’s absolutely vital to come up with new ways to communicate information visually or else we’d all be staring at the same graphics churned through a set of templates every day. Keep Co was built entirely around how we could rethink every aspect of a workspace to better suit how all our members get stuff done and put community first. We also had the added challenge of building all of this without any external funding or investment – we’ve been putting everything together from our own hard work and some amazing helping hands. Lack of serious investment really pushes your ability to innovate and come up with unconventional solutions when you can’t just throw a pile of money at the problem! Without that approach, we’d just be recreating what already exists elsewhere and asides from not being a viable business, it’d be super boring and not much fun.

What drives you to make a difference?

It’s super inspiring to see the dedication our members at Keep Co have to their work and the people they work with. I don’t think you can survive small business life if you don’t have an innate desire to connect with others, and that makes for such a welcoming community when everyone knows how important it is to be good to each other. Freelancers, contractors, remote workers and artists all face a huge range of challenges operating their businesses or maintaining their creative practice – so providing a supportive, social and well-resourced place to work is just one less thing we have to think about when we’re here together.

Do you have any advice for getting more women into the innovation ecosystem?

Just start – even if you’ve done the research and proper preparation, you’ll never feel like you’re ready to press go, but it’s amazing how much you can learn just by doing. Get out there and find people doing similar things to introduce yourself to, make sure you ask the stupid questions and push yourself into environments where you can learn from others. Most of all, be kind. Or come and do all of that at once by meeting everyone out at Keep Co! Our current membership mix is 70% women and I’ve benefited so much from being surrounded by supportive and successful women who have all chosen to do what they love.

Give us your shameless plug!

We’ve only been in our current digs for 8 months but we’re already outgrowing it – so we’ve been busy planning a larger, permanent home for Keep Co opening late 2019 in another beautiful converted warehouse space around the corner, just a few steps closer to Capital Brewing Co! We’ll be expanding our workspaces and including a range of private creative studios designed for small teams, as well as fitting out a 11x6m enclosed photography studio with hireable gear, a workshop space for events, private meeting rooms, an audiobooth for podcasts and interviews and plenty of inspiring communal spaces to share and connect with others. We’re hoping the extra resources, more room to move and the permanent fitout carefully designed in collaboration with the amazing team at Craig Tan Architects (geniuses behind the Nishi Building and the other beautiful interiors at Dairy Road) will take Keep Co from an improvised, reactive space into a fully-fledged creative community hub for Canberra.

 

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