Makeshift Society: Keeping Coworking Cool in SF

  • 3 min read

Let’s face it, being a creative freelancer can get lonely. Even after you’ve outfitted your home office perfectly with everything you might need, there’s one box you still can’t check: coworkers. Coworking facilities with flexible membership plans are popping up in major cities to fill the very real need of working around people. One of the coolest coworking spaces is Makeshift Society in San Francisco. Founder Rena Tom explains how the benefits in such an arrangement and how her cool yet homey space into the larger trend of coworking.

1. What inspired you to start Makeshift Society?

Makeshift came about because I wanted to do something for my friends and me to help our business, and have a place to hang out as well. It evolved from there into a full coworking space, open to other creative freelancers. The name was one of the hardest things to decide upon but we knew we wanted to reflect the spirit of making – whether with your hands or your head. "Makeshift" can be seen as either a putdown or be a title you own and are proud of, and that resonated with us.

2. What trends have you seen in coworking? How does Makeshift Society fit into that?

Coworking is heading toward large "campuses" and an array of services that are very business-focused. It's actually resembling the corporate world a little too much for my taste so we've gone the other direction. Plenty of work gets done here but the overall vibe is quite relaxed, and everyone helps each other out.


3. What are the benefits to co-working?

You get flexibility within your day with the best of an office environment - accountability and community. You also meet a wide variety of people, which a cubicle setting in an office might not be able to provide.


4. How have you designed the space to foster the co-working spirit?

We have communal seating areas, small clusters of desks, tables, couches to encourage people to work how they prefer, solo or among others. We also have lots of textiles and soft surfaces to warm up the space.


5. We love that you display our neon sign "Who Dares Wins"? How do you think this applies to your mission?

I love this phrase! I'm always encouraging people to *do*. Folks are often timid and tend to think they need permission to do something, or fear rejection. I tend to charge ahead before anybody says no and the neon sign is a daily reminder for others to do the same.


6. We're so happy that you use our Cargo Storage Cabinet to house the Pop-Up Shop of the Month. Can you share more about that initiative and about the kinds of shops you've had or are having in the future?

The Cabinet makes it really easy for retailers to set up shop for a month in our space. It fits perfectly in the "closet" area and is versatile; it's been styled several ways and at the end of the night we just close doors! We have had local brick-and-mortar shops and online retailers participate. It's great exposure for their brand to our creative members.


7. Tell us more about the Creative-in-Residence program.

We are on our second round of residents. We take applications for people who have a particular project in mind to use the space - not only reaping the benefits of a place to work, but to really talk to our members and treat them as a resource. We're very pleased with the residents and they also contribute back to our community.

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