Profiles: Your Space – The new conference space at Herengracht with over 200 plants.
Every few weeks we interview an inspiring entrepreneur or artist chosen from our online network, Profiles. This week: Your Space.
Your Space is a new conference space at Herengracht with over 200 plants. Two Australian sisters Melissa and Natalie Fiorenza set it up. We spoke to them about starting a business in a new country and their raison d’etre.
We’ve always been very close. We both couldn’t imagine starting a business with anyone else. Especially a business that’s mainly based on your own energy and dedication. We set Your Space up for different reasons. The most important catalyst for us was the fact that we both didn’t feel good in our jobs anymore. By the end of 2017 Natalie was burned out. That got us thinking about what we actually wanted. We tried to keep our egos out of it and not think of what we should do, but really look at what would give us satisfaction. We always had the idea of starting our own business.”
We realised that caring for people is the thing that gives us the most pleasure. We love helping people to be the best version of themselves. We wondered how we could do this and at the same time make a living of it.
The two personalities
Natalie: Before I worked for Tech so I was familiar with off-site conference rooms. We knew there was something missing at those places and we wondered if we could make a difference by creating a space like that ourselves, but with a little something extra.
Melissa: I worked for Glassworks, a post-production company, where I started as a runner and got promoted to office manager. Making sure everyone from clients to employees were having a good time gave me a lot of fulfilment.
In our previous jobs we both organised events and conferences now and then, so we knew what people are looking for when they’re searching for a space like that. That inside knowledge was very valuable. We used it to distinguish ourselves.
The perfect space
Our biggest challenge was finding a space. A lot of the administrative things like registering the company were actually quite easy. The KvK (Kamer van Koophandel, Chamber of Commerce) offers great support in English and was very helpful.
It took us six months to find this space. That period it felt like we were standing still. We had a global concept for the look and feel of the place. We knew we wanted to have a lot of plants and we had ideas about the interior, but until we had found the space we weren’t sure if they would work.
Decorating done by perfectonists, you can feel it
Melissa: We thought it would take us three weeks to renovate the place. But it took us almost four months. We completely underestimated it and because we are perfectionists and wanted to do everything ourselves, it had to be done very precisely.
We couldn’t advertise until the space was done. So in that period we had no money coming in, but we were spending it like water.
We were very lucky we could get a loan from our family. This doesn’t mean the financial pressure is off. We still need to make a living for ourselves and keep the business running. It only meant we didn’t have do business with a bank. We’re super grateful for that possibility and we grab every chance we get to help other people.
From workshops flower arranging to presentations by entrepreneurs
We’re up and running since June 2018. From the moment we had the first events here, we immediately got a couple of bookings a week. The bookings are really diverse; from workshops illustrating and flower arranging to presentations by entrepreneurs. We love offering the space to starting entrepreneurs and creative events. But we have to find the right balance so we can pay the rent.
When you’re running your own company, you need to wear a lot of different hats. You’re doing so many things that you haven’t done before. But that’s the cool thing about it. When we wrote our very first business plan, we wrote that hopefully we ourselves could be one of our USP’s. Our goal was to make people feel at home from the moment they stepped in.
“We dachten dat het ons zo’n drie weken zou kosten om de plek te renoveren, maar het duurde bijna vier maanden.”