A few short months ago, I caught up with Naomi Rasmussen, owner of Workafrolic for an interview. Workafrolic is a beautiful, unique community for working parents and their children. It has been successful in pioneering a new co-working and child care business model in D.C. that provided unparalleled flexibility and support when many families need it the most. A co-working space is a shared office or a shared building where entrepreneurs, startups, freelancers, event management businesses, developers and design teams meet to work independently, as well as socialize and collaborate on joint projects. A co-working space is not only a work office. It can be a place that meets the additional needs of a modern lifestyle, such as socialization, physical activities or organizing educational and networking events. After funding the business herself, the owner has taken the business as far as she can. Workafrolic is currently seeking investors or buyers who can help the owner re-open and scale this amazing concept that has already served dozens of families. Please contact the owner at firstname.lastname@example.org with any inquiries.
How do you describe Workafrolic and what separates Workafrolic from other co-working spaces in the DC area?
When people visit Workafrolic, their reaction is “Wow, I’ve never seen anything like this before. Workafrolic is a parent-focused co-working space where we provide high quality child care, adult fitness classes, and family music and yoga classes on site in an intimate home-like environment. It is a place that is equally for kids and adults where everyone can be productive and creative in their own spaces and come together for special time together throughout the day.
We offer a uniquely flexible option that helps fill the gap left by insufficient parental leave policies and rigid and overburdened drop-off daycare centers. Our recurring clients are mainly parents (moms and dads!) who are freelancers, business owners, students and professors, and remote workers. We also offer backup care for all others whose primary caregiver is temporarily unavailable.
You have a pretty simple business model. You rent real estate, give it a cool new design, and then cut it up and rent out the smaller units at a price multiple. But, is it really that easy?
Our model is based around offering families as much flexibility as possible to support a wide range of different and dynamic schedules. It is more challenging to operate a flexible system than a routinized one, but I believe the benefits of flexibility are worth the additional effort. We spent time testing and refining a few different iterations in the first couple of months and now we have a good system that our clients are happy with. The challenge is that there are a lot of moving pieces to track. While we do use management software that helps us do that, we do not have the advantage of using software that was designed specifically for this business model like other co-working spaces have.
Are you planning on opening any other locations?
Workafrolic has now been open for six months and I have been really pleased with the positive response so far. While we continue refining the model, I am thinking about Workafrolic’s future and the best way to bring our services to other communities.
What’s the most useful piece of advice you’ve recently received as a business owner?
Don’t make decisions from a place of desperation.
Is there ever anything that keeps you up at night about being a business owner?
Being a business owner is a non-stop job so sometimes it is hard to turn your brain off when you should be sleeping!
Who funded your company when it was a start-up? Did you use your own money? Did you have an investor? Did you do a crowdfunding campaign like Kickstarter? Did you have to take out a loan?
We bootstrapped. My husband and I put in our savings and got loans from my parents and a couple of friends, personal bank loans, and credit cards.
What are your top 3 entrepreneurial tips?
- Make a wellness routine and stick to it even if you think you don’t have time. It will make you more effective at everything else you are doing.
- Be resourceful/ don’t pay for anything you don’t have to. There are some free resources for small businesses you should use, like pro bono legal services. The second part of this tip is to not spend money on inconsequential items.
- Seek guidance but trust yourself to make the right decision. It is your vision you are creating so don’t let others steer you off your path with their version of your business.
How do you advertise your business?
We advertise through parent and neighborhood list servs, mom groups on Facebook, parent blogs, and occasionally Facebook/Instagram ads.
What is your favorite Instagram feed?
I find Hey Mama’s feed on point and often hilarious.
Name 3 apps you use in your daily life.
NPR One, Calendar, Elevate (the app for our management software Wellness Living)
App you really wish you could delete, but are addicted to?
The one app I compulsively check is Mail. I would delete it if I didn’t actually need to read and respond to my email on my phone so much!
What do you wish you knew before you started your first business?
Nothing. My ignorance is part of what got me here. If I had known what I know now, I’m not sure I would have taken the plunge and I’m glad I did.
How do you use social media?
I don’t use social media much for personal reasons, but for Workafrolic, we use Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to help educate the public about what our business is, increase brand awareness, make announcements, advertise new services, and make new connections.
How do you find inspiration in your professional and personal life?
My personal life was the inspiration for the business concept to start with and it continues to be a source of a lot of my ideas. Now though, I spend a lot of time observing the families at Workafrolic and experiencing our services from the client perspective, so that is where most of the new additions and changes come from. When I feel that I am too deep into the nitty gritty of the administrative side of the business, I spend some time in Workafrolic’s play space or hanging out with my son to help re-calibrate.
What is your favorite podcast?
For the last year, I’ve been completely addicted to How I Built This. I especially like to listen to it when I’m having a bad day. The stories about other entrepreneurs finding their way after a rough time help me feel more hopeful when things aren’t looking so good.
What’s the one question you get asked the most about your job/company?
When they hear the business model and are trying to imagine the setup, many people ask whether the children and parents are in a single space. And the answer is no, children are not allowed in the workspace, which is on a separate floor from the child care spaces.
When people hear the name of your company, what do you hope comes to mind?
A place for productivity, creativity, and community.
What type of help are you looking for right now?
- There are two ways you can support Workafrolic and our mission to support D.C. families!
First and foremost, spread the word about Workafrolic! In addition to co-working space and child care for infants and toddlers, we offer family yoga classes, music classes by Tunes 4 Tots, and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) adult fitness classes by 319 Fitness DC (with child care!) for a wider community of adults and families than use our co-working and child care services.
- Second, you can support local D.C. mompreneurs by contributing to the Mompreneur Mastermind Program here: www.gofundme.com/workafrolic-grants. Being a mom and entrepreneur is rewarding, but also hard. We want to support these women to be the most effective moms and business owners they can be by establishing a peer group to tackle some of the big challenges together in a structured, facilitated program. Workafrolic has partnered with Makers Making Babies (www.makersmakingbabies.com) to organize and host the program. The Mompreneur Mastermind Programis an 8-week peer-led support and training program tailored to female entrepreneurs with children and businesses under 4 years old. The program will address the unique needs of these women using the mastermind group model in which the collective intelligence and experience of the group acts as the support or coach to the group. We hope to run the first iteration of the program in early 2019.