As a leadership educator and coach working from home, Leslie Bosserman had a tough time being fully present with both her first child and her clients. Eight months into her second pregnancy, she came up with the idea for The Makers Place, a Sacramento-based coworking space customized for families.
From her experience, she understood how new parents could feel isolated and overwhelmed, and how these feelings interfere with remote working and freelance projects.
“People get lonely when they have kids,” says Bosserman, whose business partner and husband, Joel, runs an early-intervention program for children with autism. “Parents go to playgroups or meetups or places to find connection. But there’s nothing like that on the professional side.”
With the rise of coworking spaces in the Capital Region, Bosserman set out to differentiate hers from those that reflect an open, industrial aesthetic. The Makers Place, launched in January 2018, exudes a quaint, cozy style. The space is a house near the Broadway corridor between Midtown and Curtis Park, which Bosserman and her family remodeled in 37 days. She says they did 90 percent of the work themselves. Even her 2-year-old pitched in with a play hammer. Bosserman purchased the house in November 2018, and the corporation is renting it monthly at fair market price, she says.
The house has one main gallery and an attached sunroom with open space for working socially. There is also a separate conference room and small meeting room that can be used for coworking. Bosserman says the entire space can accommodate up to 40 people working at once.
As of May 2019, The Makers Place had about 35 members. Some have children who are older and don’t need child care. Some people work there just because they love the mission and vibe of the community, Bosserman says. Flexible memberships include a “play school” for young children (3 months to 5 years old that runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays), but she says the Makers Place is a coworking space first that happens to have a child care option.
There are 12 active co-op members, parents who trade time working as caregivers, and interns who provide child care and are paid through Thousand Strong, the city’s workforce development program for youth. Bosserman is a paid employee for the preschool (which operates 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays) but volunteers her time running the entire operation. She also monetizes a few hours each week with her coaching clients from her first business.
Bosserman says three months after opening, The Makers Place started earning profit. The startup was already self-sustaining by the time she received $99,900 from Sacramento’s Rapid Acceleration, Innovation, and Leadership in Sacramento grant program last year. The additional RAILS funding helped Bosserman expand the business with more initiatives, including a six-month incubator program. Parents Night Out, a new event on the first Wednesday of the month, allows parents to take advantage of the child care service and have a date night or time for other things, Bosserman says.
Now, she says, the biggest challenge is getting people to understand what The Makers Place is and what they do.
“Sometimes we get confused with the mainstream concept of a ‘makerspace’ for individuals looking for 3-D printers and more technical workshop space,” she says. “But that just gives me the opportunity to connect them with our neighbors up the street at Hacker Lab as we continue to collaborate and co-create a network of creative spaces for remote workers in Sacramento.”
Kerri Naber runs a program called NOW, a series of workshops that gives women time and space to finish projects. She was looking for a venue in April and found The Makers Place. She was sold immediately after taking the tour.
“You feel so light when you walk into The Makers Place,” Naber says. “Your space is what invites you into creativity. You always want to feel like you’re in a clean environment and have the décor really call you up to excellence.”
Naber was drawn to the warmth of the place, abundance of seating, coffee machines, conference room and patio. In the past, she has hosted events in a boardroom, which she says made the women feel less relaxed. But at The Makers Place, the women seemed at ease, bonding with each other, enjoying themselves. Naber, who lives in Orangevale, hosted two events there in April and booked again for October.
For Bosserman, this type of response is exactly what she believes will help The Makers Place stand out in the crowded field.
“With so many local coworking options, we wanted to create a unique offering to support families who needed a space to work with flexible, onsite child care for their young children,” Bosserman says. “Because parents first and foremost are makers — they created life! — we’re here to help support them as they make their next best thing.”