PEOPLE & PLACES
The Collective: Bringing makers to the forefront
Story by Katie Ryalen | Photos by Denise Wilkins
Starting your own business—sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t it? Who doesn’t want the opportunity to work from home, to hold flexible hours and to not have to suffer a twice-daily commute? There is a wave of passionate creators, makers and entrepreneurs who have made the leap into going it on their own. But going into business for yourself does not mean you’re alone in making your businesses a success. Enter Kristine Carr, founder of The Collective Offices in Bowmanville.
Far more than just generic office space, The Collective Offices is a platform for small businesses and makers in the Durham Region, providing a physical location for those entrepreneurs who would otherwise not have one. Their focus, as Kristine explains, is on fostering growth and exposure, as well as creating a community. “A lot of our makers and small businesses work from home,” she says. “What we have done is create a location where people can have events or popups, or rent a monthly office to gather people in one area.”
Residing in a second-floor location in downtown Bowmanville, The Collective Offices has five offices which are rentable by the month, and one workshop- or classroom-style space that is rentable by the hour. “A lot of times small business owners are left to fend for themselves or figure it all out on their own,” Kristine says. “We want to be able to offer people these amenities on an hourly basis, and also on a monthly basis, so they can grow their businesses using our services.”
The cost-savings of a monthly or even hourly rental is notable when compared to the typical scenario of a five-year lease. Such a hefty contractual commitment is often a deterrent to those small-business owners who need a space only part of the time. The Collective Offices seeks to eliminate these deterrents. “The month-to-month rental structure allows someone who has decided they need their first office, or their first studio space, to retain the power over their business and their overhead costs,” Kristine explains.
It is, as we noted, a recent rise in the number of new businesses that makes places like The Collective Offices necessary. This is especially true in Durham Region, where the commute to Toronto has turned the nine-to-five workday into something more like the seven-to-seven all-day. Now more than ever, people are becoming empowered to break the cycle, to reshape their lives and their careers into something that reflects their passion. “There is definitely a movement of people starting to value their own strengths and their own talents and are just going for it,” Kristine states.
They all have their own unique reasons for doing so. Some are inspired by friends who have decided to make the leap.
Many are new moms on maternity leave who want to use their at-home time to establish a small enterprise and allow it to gain traction before their allotted year is up. Still others are stay-at-home and older moms whose kids are no longer in need of care. They are, Kristine and her staff have noticed, predominantly (though not entirely) women. She says, “These women are seizing the opportunity to take a breath and decide how they want to provide for their family now. That is why it’s so important to have services like ours to help them grow sustainably and with lower costs.”
Empowering people to follow their passions is what Kristine herself is passionate about. “I am a brand coach,” she says. “I get what these business owners are doing from a deeper level, and what their business is beyond the office. A lot of my personal clients, or even people who are looking to rent our office space, actually started because of the cost of daycare and the astronomical costs of commuting. And going to the city for these awesome jobs that they got initially, but realize after a couple of years that they are not happy in—that’s not good for the family.”
These people, Kristine and her staff have seen, are beginning to listen to their intuition, and are realizing that spending their working lives commuting to and from the city is not something they want to do. Starting a business is, for many, a more desirable option in order to have flexibility. “It’s not necessarily that they want to work from home,” Kristine points out. “And flexibility doesn’t mean working less, because often makers work a lot more. They have the choice, though.”
“When you commit to having an office, you’re committing to your business,” she says. “A lot of times, when you’re working from home, you find yourself getting bogged down with the obligations of life, of your responsibilities at home. But when we invest in ourselves and our businesses by identifying a physical, dedicated location for our work, we create that routine and are constantly being driven to push ourselves.”
As a brand coach, Kristine’s goal is to help people understand their business from a brand perspective—a brand being more than a logo or a website. Her business is to guide people, and help them understand their business inside and out, as well as the role they have to play in making their enterprise a success. “People have awesome business ideas, and they have a logo and a business plan in place,” she explains. “But they actually don’t recognize the value of their brand. If they don’t know that themselves, their potential client base won’t know the value of their brand either.”
“I always use the example of Starbucks vs Tim Hortons,” she continues. “When you look at those logos and those cups you feel something distinct for each one. That’s because they have invested in their brand identity. I teach people about their brand identity and how to have people feel a certain way when they look at their brand.”
With fostering growth being the goal of The Collective Offices, one wonders what happens when Kristine’s clients outgrow the need for temporary or small-scale office space. Far from being something that The Collective Offices wants to prevent, being outgrown is something that thrills Kristine and her staff. “I actually get excited when people outgrow their offices here because it means that they are evolving, and it affirms for us that we were the platform they needed,” she says. “They’re not necessarily leaving us, it’s that we were only their starting point. When they leave, we welcome a new group who we can help find success.”
The Collective Offices is located at 93 King St. W., Bowmanville.
CLIENT: Sofia schuringa
B.A. Psych, ADMH Owner & Wellness Counsellor at Lux Counselling Collective
CLIENT: Kameela Osman
M.S.W., R.S.W. Clinical Social Worker/ Psychotherapist, Founder of Elite Counselling & Consulting Services
CLIENT: Hilary spencer
Kade Bolger The Accidental Artist
Story by Katie Ryalen | Photos by Kirsten McGoey
Custom. Handmade. Artisanal. These are the words of a revolution. In our overwhelmingly consumerist society, we’re seeing a significant shift in how we feel about the things we buy, the gifts we give, and the items with which we accent our homes. We don’t want mass-produced, rather, we want something that has the hand of the maker in it. Woodcarver Kade Bolger knows exactly what it takes and as an artist he puts his heart and soul into each piece he makes.
Each of Bolger’s unique carvings is beautifully crafted, lovingly finished and utterly timeless. He has been carving professionally for six years, during which time he has determinedly sought to not just grow his business as an entrepreneur, but also to perfect his craft as an artist. His repertoire includes canes, bowls and boxes. “I do a lot of live-edge bowls, platters and plates,” he explains. “And my niche is the custom canes. That’s where it all started. Before I learned how to use the lathe, I would do custom canes and carvings.”
As a child, Kade was always intrigued by woodworking, wood carving and the source of wood in general: trees. “My grandfather got me into everything wood,” he recalls. “I was eight years old when he gave me my first knife and told me not to cut myself.” Together with his grandfather, Kade began carving whimsical figurines, miniature houses and caricatures.
It was an unfortunate accident on the job which affected his back that gave Kade the idea to turn his hobby into his business. “I couldn’t really work a regular nine-to-five job with my back injury,” he says. “The pain was too much and my sleep was disrupted as a result. So I had to create something, a business of my own that I could do at my own pace.” Returning to wood carving was therapeutic, he found, and helped him through the grieving process as he worked on his recovery.
Once Kade had regained his mobility and could walk again, he evolved from hand carving into wood turning. An internet search for community-based programs led him to the membership-based Durham Woodworking Club in Oshawa, which he joined in 2011. It was there that he learned how to use a lathe. “I took a crash course in safety and operation, and from there I was hooked,” he says.
Much of the work he does on the lathe was self-taught through books, internet instruction and trial and error. Over the years Kade has made a great effort to attend talks and demonstrations held by other woodturning guilds in Ontario to learn about new techniques and methods. “I’ve worked with probably 10 internationally known artists and wood turners,” Kade says. “And then I take their techniques and meld them all into my own.”
Though Kade still lives with the ghost of his injury, he doesn’t let it slow him down. On his good days he is in the shop. On his bad days, where the pain limits his ability to be on his feet, he is able to take it easy on a couch or in a chair, and work on his carving and finishing. “It’s really about managing my back pain now,” he says. “It has been a life saver for me to not have to work for someone, to work at my own pace and be on my own schedule.”
Within the past four years, Kade has had the opportunity to teach woodworking through the Durham Woodworking Club—a testament to the idea of the student becoming the teacher, since this is where he effectively learned his trade. He has also been asked to perform demonstrations for the Woodturners Guild of Ontario on live-edge bowl turning and his finishing and box turning techniques.
In 2016, Kade had the opportunity to travel to Ireland to learn from world-renowned wood turners. “I spent three days with a fellow named Seamus Cassidy, who does a lot of embellishing, gold flaking, texturing and carving on his turnings,” Kade says. “I also did a master class weekend with a really well-known fellow, Glenn Lucas, who does production turning of bowls.”
This year, Bolger also travelled to Manchester to attend an international woodturning symposium. It was at this event that all attendees were invited to enter a piece of their own work into the symposium gallery. “There were three or four hundred professional wood turners in attendance, and each person could enter one or two items into this gallery,” he recalls. “I entered two pieces: one called “Mesmer’s Eye” and another one called “Le Feu”. I didn’t know it when I got there but they were choosing 50 items out of this gallery for a year-long travelling art exhibition, and Le Feu was chosen! I was ecstatic because there were over 375 entries of phenomenal work, and I walked in there thinking I didn’t have a chance. I mean, I like my work. It has nice form and quality execution. But some of these guys have been doing this their whole lives and I’ve been doing it here professionally for six. So I was happy that my piece was number 32 of 50 chosen.”
For someone so artistic, it may be surprising to learn that Kade never took art in school. “I was too much of a perfectionist,” he laughs. “I would do a project and I wouldn’t like how it was turning out, so I’d either scrap it or redo it. I’d be up all night, spending weeks on these projects to finish them perfectly, so I just stopped taking art.” Since deciding to turn his hobby into his profession, however, Kade began doing simple projects to build his technique and tool control before moving on to more challenging ones. “I’m always thinking of evolving, and what sort of a new twist I can put on my pieces—whether it’s a different piece of wood to give it that coloured contrast, or it’s one shape flowing into another.”
The reward for this artist, though, is seeing how his growing skill results in a finished piece. “It’s gratifying to take what is essentially a log or a piece of wood, to mill it, chop it, and then make something beautiful out of it,” he says. “It’s nice to see that people visually love my work as well as appreciate it. I know there are things you can buy from big stores that can be nice, but they’re mass produced in factories. With handmade pieces, your love, your heart, your soul, your blood and sweat and tears go into these items. It’s very rewarding when people love your work.”
“People ask me how long it takes to finish a piece,” he adds. “Some pieces take four, five or six hours from start to finish, and some can even be up to thirty. But the real answer to that question is ‘Since I started.’ Each piece is an accumulation of everything that came before it. All your mistakes, all your trials and errors, all your learning to get the fine finesse and control of the tools.”