CTRL Collective: a curated workspace that’ll knock your socks off.
The cubicle is endangered at last; Millennials and modern entrepreneurs, in a collective search for more purpose and work-life balance, are bidding adieu to the suffocating workspaces and futile professions of generations past. Instead we are tearing down walls and forging our own multi-vocational empires. The stats are a testament; a recent national survey conducted by Freelancers Union and Elance-oDesk found that 1 in 3 Americans have adopted “Freelancer” as their job title.
For the freelancing Information-Generation, the sky is the limit is an expired expression. Owing to such tools as satellites and search engines; the internet abolishes boundaries and stretches beyond the ether, opening up unlimited resources for acquiring interest, knowledge, and skills to anyone with the knowhow. From love-seats in cafes to our kitchen floors, we are free to work independently, yet we are mislaid from the community that bonding in break rooms and huddling over the coffee maker brings.
Not to fear; a space has manifested for digital enterprisers in Los Angeles, where networking is both critical to the advancement of our careers and yet increasingly made difficult by said independence. Harken the genesis of LA’s unmatched, CTRL Collective, the ultimate rebuttal to any entrepreneur who is isolated in their cyber-sphere and fearing they can’t possibly have it all. If that endorsement wasn’t enough, perhaps a lovely sentiment we drew from another inspiring entrepreneur, Amber Rose, speaking at CTRL Collective’s airy DTLA location on Sunday, will.
“Never sell a dream,” Rose said. “Be exactly as you are.”
With two locations in downtown LA and Playa Vista; CTRL Collective is a sort of purlieu for professionals of diverse fields longing for a workspace that is as comfortable and compelling as it is welcoming to their dogs. Suits and ties are not required; here is a space where dreams are made, not sold. A space for freelancers unwilling to deny themselves the inspiration culled through engaging with a community of other motivated entrepreneurs and innovatives. Immaculate interior designs, cutting-edge technology, outpourings of coffee, events and amenities, and even complimentary yoga; this is a collective that boasts workplace innovation, community, and leisure between emails and HTML codes. It’s where modern professionals are able to make themselves without losing themselves.
We turned to CTRL Collective CEO, David Bren, and COO, Taleia Mueller, with Q&A on this visionary endeavor.
What was the motivation behind CTRL Collective’s establishment? And how does the collective answer the needs and desires of today’s diverse professionals?
David Bren: With the availability of so much technology in today’s world, people crave belonging more than ever. Professionals and creatives want a space to feel at home. The psyche does not want to feel like they are working out of someone else’s office, but rather that the space they are working from is their own. We set forth a large effort to accomplish this by the way of designing our space, training our staff, and curating the environment. The curation aspect allows our members to feel comfortable with the people around them- it established a certain level of trust. This massively impacts the way they interact with each other, and the way that they feel about the space. Who can argue that the most enjoyable work experience is pursuing your passions, side by side with your friends, driven to do the same?
Taleia Mueller: Our CEO is a serial entrepreneur who began his passion for real estate and finance while going to Boston University. Once he came back to L.A. he explored multiple shared spaces where he was promised community, amenities, and other ways to develop as an aspiring entrepreneur. What he discovered was salespeople, free beer, and happy hours. David then set out to create a creative campus where genuine relationships and real amenities existed to help propel the individual or company forward. David and I consistently talk with our staff and members to keep evolving. To learn and apply is to grow. We strive for excellence.
Community is an important pillar in CTRL Collective’s makeup. To avoid becoming just another shared workspace, how is community actively promoted within the space or among members?
David Bren: We encourage the CTRL 80/20 rule. 80% of your time is spent on your work, and 20% of your time is spent giving back to the community. This could be anything from a game of ping-pong with the person who’s usual sitting place is near yours, to donating time/a skill to another entrepreneur in need, to participating in CTRL’s many philanthropic efforts. We promote community as not only being internal to our walls, but also external to our building. The external community, and the impact we have on it, is just as important as the community we cultivate inside each of our locations.
Taliea Mueller: We believe in giving back, period. Whether you are giving support to a fellow member, doing a food drive, or raising funds to create care packages for those in need. CTRL Collective believes that sharing and truly being a community means getting involved. We have PROUDLY supported dozens of nonprofits with a multiple causes we are passionate about since we opened. We sponsor space for fundraisers, donate funds, resources, produce food drives, and volunteer. Our impact is started from the first moment when a potential member explores who we are. We are the real deal and put our money where our mouth is, members who are a part of our community share the same values.
This collective is at the forefront of a movement towards more inspiring and refreshing workspaces. Tell us about the physical composition of the two spaces, and what concepts or visions were influential in their designs.
David Bren: Our Playa Vista location was purposely chosen as something completely different from the norm. It was originally the office of a local billionaire, who spared no expense constructing it. We took the old world craftsmanship of the building, and imbued it with new energy focused around the booming Los Angeles tech movement. The design of the building inspires confidence in our members and invokes the frequent “THIS IS YOUR OFFICE?!” response from their guests. The interior was designed in such a way as to make our members feel right at home, the second they step inside. Our Downtown location was stylized to look much like a New York loft. We took a lot of our inspiration from the local buildings in the fashion district that were finished with such a keen eye for detail. We accentuated many of the decorative features that came with the building, such as the original prints on the ceilings that were stenciled on in 1924. While transformed into a creative work environment, one can still picture it being a large residential space instead.
Curation is a principal word in the collective’s vernacular. What exactly is curated? And how does that curation empower inspiration and productivity?
David Bren: The most important piece of our curation, is that of our members. It is not the walls that make our community special, but rather the people inside of them. Ensuring that those people are positive additions to our community, therefore becomes paramount in our success. From the second someone begins their tour at CTRL Collective, they are being explored to see if they are a fit, just as much as they are observing us to see if we are a fit for them. We continue this process throughout their time with us, to ensure that they are continuing to be an additive member of our tribe. We like to think of ourselves as a non-snobby exclusive creative workspace. What we look for in members the most is a kind-hearted, passionate individual or group that believes in the ideology that a rising tide lifts all boats. We enjoy making bold statements as a part of our curation process. This is, in our opinion, one of the easiest ways for people to self-select if they fit our vibe. Statements like “We are a supercollider for brilliance, innovation and excellence and we believe that the weaving of technology and community will change the conversation forever” get one of two gut reactions – love or hate. If you hate it, you’re less likely to have been a fit for the community & less likely to come in and tour.
Are entrepreneurs from all fields welcome to engage in this community workspace? Does the collective promote diversity? And if so, how can professionals from vastly different fields better inspire each other, as opposed to engaging in a single-field workspace?
Taleia Mueller: Great question and ABSOLUTELY! We actually say that tech touches everything, whether you’re in fashion, an artist, a creator, an inventor or innovator. That doesn’t mean you’re a tech entrepreneur, and tech defines you, it simply means it is a part of what makes your business tick. We have an EXTREMELY diverse community, we have Venture Capital firms with funds ranging from 100 million to 2 billion in house, the first driverless taxi software, yoga clothing/blogging, App development, studio animators, fashion designers, artist, musicians, and inventors at each of our locations. We host many events, classes, and workshops from a full spectrum of different topics, industries, and backgrounds. Our locations have thrived because of this diversity. We are sharing this knowledge in partnering on projects with local schools such as LMU, UCLA, and USC.
CTRL Collective currently has two locations in Playa Vista and downtown LA. Do these locations boast different advantages in terms of location or atmosphere? How do the spaces come together as one collective? And do you have plans to expand in the future?
Taleia Mueller: Each location has it’s own personality but the heart and foundation are the same. We reflect the external community which creates the makeup of what resources we provide for our members. Such examples include a Virtual Reality Lab, Art Studio with Tyler Ramsey (Head artist for Toms Shoes), CTRL Collective and Redbull Innovation Lab – Prototyping Space with 3D Printers, Green screen CYC Wall and Creation Lab with videography and photography equipment at Playa Vista location in the heart of Silicon Beach. Our Downtown L.A. location in the heart of the Fashion district features a Creation Lab with videography and photography equipment, vanity and wardrobe area, 3D Printers for Prototyping, Classroom for workshops, Design studio with Mannequins for draping, we also support artists by showcasing different local artist every 3 months. Each space is designed by David and myself, we take great pride in spaces no one would ever think to put a shared space. We love tall ceilings, natural light, and an equal proportion of shared space to office area. In creating each location we celebrate the history and recreate the passion in the space. Our members who travel between both locations tell us that they feel the warmth and soul of our company which is pretty amazing. We will be expanding to more locations in the Souther California area.
What are some other advantages to linking up with CTRL Collective? Could you tell us about the classes, workshops, or mentorship opportunities available to members? If I had a dog, could I bring them to work?
Taleia Mueller: Firstly, incredible space that are absolutely inspirational every corner you turn. We have classes such as “the top ten things you should know as an entrepreneur” with our Legal Partner Manatt Law Firm, VR 360 stitching courses, design development, business development, financial modeling, art classes, yoga and meditation. We have mentor Mondays where mentorship is provided to companies or individuals that are in need, we do not take equity or hold any financial stake in any of these companies. We want our members to know we are truly there to help them succeed in their endeavors. We are 100% doggy friendly, we welcome them to work daily!
And lastly, how has the conversation about where and with whom we work changed since the genesis of CTRL Collective?
David Bren: Where you work & with whom you work now says more about your personality than it ever has before. It’s a statement about who you are and what you value. Shared work environments have largely taken on personalities of their own, which feeds into a(n) individuals/groups character. Are you in an environment that values passion, creativity, and real community, or are you in a workspace littered with glass cells where value are placed closer to having a lobby with impressive, trendy furniture?
To learn more about CTRL Collective or schedule your visit, head to www.ctrlcollective.com.