Behind every member is a story.
The variety in these stories is what makes co-working such an exciting atmosphere.
Jeff joined us at co-work engine. in earlier this year, and I got to sit down and talk all about his journey getting here.
P: So what is it that you do here at co work engine. Jeff?
J: I am an organ builder in my first year of business and work in the workshop here at Co work engine. I also build and sell a unique range of martial arts practice weapons which I have been doing for almost a year now.
P: What other options were out there as a start-up organ builder and/or fine woodworker?
J: I was trying to find my own light industrial unit but I quickly found that there are very few available. I ended up looking very far a field and even out in the sticks this was not cost effective. The other option was to buy a home with a garage, however I would have grown out of that fairly quickly. I would have been limited to the machinery I could have used. It would have limited what I could do.
There are two reasons why this works for me; it’s flexible and can grow in accordance with how my business is growing and the shared machinery is a huge drawing point because when you start up, you don’t have a lot of capital. It was like a springboard for me to move forward.
I was lucky to find you early on in the process. Four months or so ago I wasn’t even sure if this was possible; I was also thinking about going off and getting a local design job in a similar industry. I never expected to be up and running this fast and winning contracts. This place has been key to my good fortune.
P: We are usually in the workshop. How do you find mixing with the office folk?
J: There is great value in me coming into the office and talking to people. I am a fairly focused person but I know if I come in here and fix myself a drink I can gain great value. We are all products of the people we spend the most time with so if you spend time with these people it’s fantastic. I’m sure some great things will happen in the future. I’ve already met Tremaine who works in the music industry and we can have some cross over. I just met Aaron today and I knew he did computer stuff but I was just talking to him and realised we share many of the same views on design.
I was lucky to find you early on in the process
P: How have you found your new work life balance?
J: In my previous job it was a very unique situation where we were actually able to work when we wanted, however when you are in a company there are these unhelpful social layers of hierarchy, guarding territory and fitting for positions and obviously you don’t have any of that here. So it’s like having the best of both worlds, you have colleagues and we share ideas but because we are all separate there isn’t any tension between people.
P: I know you have spoke about this before but could you explain how you think co-working could pan out in future where clients would come here for a one stop shop and we could all work together in our specialties to deliver a project?
J: If my amount of work increases, then when I need someone to help I will create a system where they work with a high degree of responsibility. I could easily imagine this being a network that delivers services and they obviously benefit if they do well and don’t benefit if they don’t. What is interesting is in our personal lives we all have a high degree of responsibility, we buy a house, we have kids, we plan to travel etc… Why is it on Monday morning when you go to work, you all of a sudden become a child, you are told what to do, your trips are planned, you can’t go over this budget. Why is that? At 8am you are fully responsibility, at 9am when you are in the office you are not. Their ability is handicapped.
P: I’ve read that there are three things to satisfaction in life, mastery, autonomy, purpose. Basically those three things are exactly what you are talking about. So forget the space, what about your happiness, if you don’t mind my asking?
J: I’ve been waiting six or seven years for this and working towards this for a long time. When I first became interested in business I realised there was a number of things to learn, not only in my craft but also in business and developing my design skills. I spent those years collecting those skills and refining them and now finally I am here and it is liberating.
P: How do you feel juggling both your practice martial arts weapon making and building organs?
J: It’s like i’ve been thrown out of a helicopter with a blindfold and I’m slowly taking the blindfold off; although I’ve done all these preparations, nothing really prepares you. I have no systems and I am slowly building them, Jake showed me Yandado the other day, it’s great. It just takes time.
P: Do you want keep both businesses running side by side?
J: For me it’s important to keep my sales diverse. It’s like Tetris, you have to have lots of little bits that fit together. If you have one big chunk, you have lots of empty spaces that are wasted.
Have you heard about any other craft co working spaces?
J: I was aware of these sorts of places but I wasn’t aware of one in Northampton. In fact I thought there would most definitely not be one in Northampton.
I was aware of these sorts of places but I wasn’t aware of one in Northampton.
Northampton has a huge history of artisan trades, do you feel that history and part of it?
J: I would say I only now feel it working here and I now feel more part of community. I was a craftsman in four walls and I think you have chosen a great place to start this co working space. I moved here a few years ago from Chicago, it is a place that has been in a bit of a slum and I feel it is going up now, there is more energy around. You’ve got something special here.
P: We certainly feel the same way Jeff and it is great to have you in the space, you bring a lot of good energy and people are certainly always fascinated my our very own resident organ builder. Please check out his website at practical-training-equipment.com