Working out of a home office can only last for so long. Becca Thompson Apfelstadt and Tiffany Wise decided to start their own marketing consulting business in Spring 2009, in the middle of one of the worst economies.
“We decided we’d give it a go for six months,” says Apfelstadt.
The day the two friends made that decision, Apfelstadt returned home and found new life on a bonsai tree that she thought was dying.
“That was a hard day,” she says.
Seeing the new life on the tree she had named treetree made her feel comfortable with their decision. It also gave them the name for their company: treetree.
The two worked out of Apfelstadt’s loft in the Hartman Building and quickly discovered they needed an official office space.
“We realized in order to prove to our clients, peers, and industry professionals that we were serious, we needed a door,” she says.
Their search for an office led them to look at nearly 30 spaces. Then their real estate agent showed them a space in the Berry Boltworks Building.
“We got five steps in and said ‘We’ll take it,'” Apfelstadt says. “It feels like home.”
They loved the old warped floors, the original wood beams, everything about the old. Plus there was the added bonus that the building is secure and always occupied, there’s lots of parking, and the location is so convenient.
At first, it was just Apfelstadt and Wise in the 1,300-square-foot space, but their company quickly grew to eight full-time employees, as well as contractors and freelancers who work on a project-to-project basis. They repositioned themselves in the marketplace as a supplemental agency of special contracts. They also discovered a need for a conference space.
In November 2012, they finished a renovation that would give them 700 additional square feet. “We totally rethought how we used the space,” Apfelstadt says.
They worked with Sullivan Builders to add the kitchen, conference room, closets, and cubbies along the east wall. The cubbies work well to give people privacy when they need it.
Otherwise, “we work in one big room very much on purpose,” she says.
It allows them to have immediate collaboration. If someone is having a phone conversation with a client, it’s good for others who may be working on the project to hear if changes have come up. There’s also a large table in the middle of the room for anyone to work on.
The construction took about 60 days and everyone worked through it while occupying the space. “It was actually our largest period of growth,” Apfelstadt says.
Sullivan also helped them find the old doors that were remade into the doors for their conference room and cubbies. Two doors were remade into the countertop for the island. The blonde woods add a lightness to the darker floors.
For the furnishings throughout the rest of the space, they worked with a designer from Continental Office Environments.
“That was a great experience,” Apfelstadt says. A designer helped them reimagine how their current furniture could better serve their workflow. Then they choose new pieces to complete the space.
“We like the classic style of Herman Miller,” she says. “It’s fabulous stuff you can have a long time.”
It also looks great with the funkier accents they found to decorate the space.
The conference table was made out of a locust tree from the builder’s property, and Apfelstadt and Wise drew the table shape, which was then poured in concrete. It’s in two pieces, so it can be taken apart.
“It’s something different than your typical conference table,” Apfelstadt says.
The pair has built their business on their own and have no debt.
“I never thought I would own a business at the age of 27,” Apfelstadt says. “We feel so blessed.”
It helps that they have a built-in support system, as both Apfelstadt and Wise’s spouses are also entrepreneurs.
Apfelstadt finds one of their biggest challenges as a small company is hiring and being able to compete in the market.
“Hiring somebody is a big responsibility,” she says. “It’s important to us to really be able to make that commitment.”
They anticipate adding several positions this year.
“It’s very very rewarding to build a place that people love to come to work.”
To learn more about treetree, visit treetreebranding.com.
Do you know of, have, or work in, a creative workspace and would like to be featured in this series? If so, please contact Anne Evans.