Alexandra Gilder is a licensed massage therapist with a private office at Bamboo Royal Oak. Her clients come to her seeking deep relaxation and support with managing the physical manifestations of stress and anxiety. She has three years of experience in massage and bodywork and is interested in integrating energy work into her offerings. When Gilder came in for an office tour, we were excited to hear about the creative ways she planned to design and use the space and how Bamboo could support her business growth.
Growing a Business
Like many entrepreneurs, Gilder initially ran her business out of her house, meeting with clients and offering her services at her home address. Unfortunately, this solution had several limitations that impacted her business and its opportunity to grow. For example, she had to be more selective of the clients she worked with because she was meeting them in her personal space. The pets at home added another limitation as clients with sensitive allergies would be impacted.
As the world began to open up after the COVID-19 shutdowns, Gilder quickly realized that she needed to get out of her house. She wanted to also expand her client base and was ready to grow. And so began the search for coworking solutions.
While it was exciting to consider all of the options available, Gilder was initially worried that clients would feel strange going to a public space after becoming accustomed to the intimate home setting. She wondered if being exposed to strangers in the building would impact her clients’ ability to relax, especially since most of her clients seek her services to escape the office.
Luckily, the general response has been very positive. Mostly, her clients are proud of her growth. Finding the right space to host her clients has helped Gilder expand her client base without any issues.
Finding the Right Space
When looking for the right office space, Gilder had a few requirements in mind to accommodate her clients:
Gilder wanted a centrally located office and enjoys being in downtown Royal Oak. Prior to getting an office, Gilder spent a significant amount of time travelling for her clients in Detroit and Rochester. Royal Oak was a convenient central meeting point and reduced her commute time so she could focus on building her business. It’s hard to miss our building which sits right at the intersection of Main Street and Third Street. The visibility of the location helps her clients feel instantly more comfortable knowing where to locate the office.
Gilder enjoys having an office on the first floor because it is easily accessible for any clients who may have mobility challenges. Being in the space has allowed her to accommodate all walks of life. Additionally, the building layout is easy for clients to navigate between the entrance, the office, and the restroom.
With the volume of clients that Gilder meets with daily, it was important for the office building to have accessible parking available. At the Royal Oak location, there is a parking garage directly behind the building that offers complimentary parking for 2 hours. This was perfect for Gilder whose sessions are around 90 minutes in length. Having this parking available also helps the clients feel relaxed, knowing that they don’t need to think about finding street parking or getting a parking ticket.
After taking a tour, Gilder immediately felt like this was the one. She worked with the Community Manager to make the office work for her budget and they were able to find a solution that they were both happy with. Finding an office space is often a very intuitive process and there’s an emotional connection to the space. Gilder felt validated by following her intuition and gut feeling.
Her advice for those looking for office space: Make a list of what’s important to you, create the boundary and don’t settle for places that don’t fit what you need. Be intuitive.
Building a Space for Relaxation
Gilder has re-imagined a unique space to encourage deep relaxation. When you first step into her office, you are immediately transported out of an office setting into what she likes to describe as a bohemian cave.
Her clients feel a sense of coziness in the space. When she first came in for the tour, it was easy to picture exactly how she wanted the space to look and feel, despite the office looking so different from all of the spaces she had been in before. If you look around the office, you may notice a white noise machine to block out any surrounding noise, a curtain that blocks the light from the window and door to create a sense of privacy, and candles to create a relaxing environment.
It was important for Gilder to design a space that was visually appealing, a space for her clients to rest or to be transported in their mind. A light projects on to the side wall to add color and interest to the space.
Having the ability to customize her office set Bamboo apart from the other office spaces that she looked at. Some of the other options that Gilder was considering limited the privacy and prevented her from covering the windows. At Bamboo, Gilder felt like there was the flexibility and freedom to be herself and to do her work the way she wanted to.
“[At the other places I visited], it feels like I’m not running my business out of somewhere, I’m part of their business somehow with my business within it… and that didn’t feel right”
Finding a Community
Gilder has embraced the social aspect of working out of a coworking space. She enjoys the member socials and the conversations in the hallways and lounges that give her connections and an opportunity to talk to people other than her clients. This social element has helped a lot with promoting creativity.
Since moving into her office, Gilder has connected with another office member, Nikki Wisniewski, to host workshops for people interested in energy work or bodywork. She wants to make this work and information more approachable and finds the space inspiring. Working out of Bamboo inspired the idea by providing spaces for Gilder to visualize hosting events and expanding her offerings.
“The space is inspiring to advance my career… I wanted a space that I felt that I could use more in a professional way outside of my house”
Gilder took a risk as the first and only massage therapist in our office space, but she’s happy with how it turned out. Just as she has been inspired by the change of scenery and the diversity of people she meets in the space each day, Gilder has inspired those in the space to think about what they need.
Having an office enables Gilder to expand her client base, allowing her to be less selective of the types of clients she can see. There’s even a built in clientele from the other office members in the building who welcome the relaxing escape.