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Wondering if a combined studio and nursery is feasible?

(7 Posts)
Amibambini Sat 06-Jul-13 10:41:35

Hi there. I'm a self employed photographer in Hackney, I have a desk space in Dalston in a studio I share with 4 others. I'm pregnant with my first child and mentally probing solutions to future childcare and work conundrums.

I can do part of my work from home but only really as a short term measure, space is fairly tight and our home has its own unique set of limitations (I live on a barge). If I am going to work in any real capacity I will need a space external to the home. My studio mates are lovely and no doubt I will be able to bring a baby into the studio now and then (if its not a continuous scream machine), but the reality is they aren't going to want a baby or small child around regularly, understandably. So I will have to move at some point.

Studio space is an expense. Child care is an expense. I'm wondering if the two could be combined, saving some cash and also allowing more time & flexibility to be together with my child, as the way I work can be super busy one month and totally dead the next, which from the sounds of things can be pretty awkward to arrange with nurseries. And before anyone asks, the only available family member is over an hour and a half away, so not available for regular child minding. My partner and I are not on mega bucks either, so can't afford loads of child care.

So an idea I have been tossing around is finding some people in a similar position as me and setting up a shared studio space that is totally child friendly. In really simple terms, two adjoined spaces, one with our desks/computers/gear, another set up as a play/sleep/cry/change/feed area. If there were three or four of us, or more, maybe we could also hire a child minder alongside contributing our own time to collective child minding.

Is this a really crazy idea? Does anyone else do this?

Surely there are loads of other creative, freelancer parents out there in a similar position to me?

Are you in Hackney and possibly be interested in doing something like this?

My baby is due in January, so still a while away.

DonutForMyself Sat 06-Jul-13 11:07:45

Sounds like a great idea. If I were in your field and local area I would definitely be interested.

I remember someone on Dragons Den who had the idea for renting out offices with a creche and all the Dragons dismissed it because they could make more money from changing the creche area to more offices, but they were trying to offer something unique.

I thought it was a great idea and a real shame that it wasn't met with more enthusiasm. Good luck with it.

Amibambini Sat 06-Jul-13 12:45:09

Donut - that's so typical! Of course making more profit is far more important than creating a working space that supports parents and children. Urgh.

cooper44 Sat 06-Jul-13 13:14:24

I think the dragons were also down on it because they sunk a lot of money with not a lot of profit!
I too would be interested if I wasn't the other side of the city. I think to really work though you'd need to employ someone. I find it absolutely impossible to get any work done with baby in tow.

Amibambini Sat 06-Jul-13 17:33:32

Cooper44 - Hmm, yes I guess ideas that go onto DD are about profit making potential, they are probably not the people you'd go to with an amazing social enterprise idea! The way I'd imagine this fantasy studio/nursery place would be run is along the lines of a co-operative or social enterprise.

And yes it would definitely need to be set up in such a way that you can actually get some work done. Guess I'm going to find out how much work one can do with a little kid about. I have a feeling I am being quite optimistic! I understand that I wont be working anything like I am now, but nonetheless I am going to have to work. We could survive on one income for a little while but it's not a long term option.

Nervous but also excited!

WilsonFrickett Fri 12-Jul-13 20:00:28

I think it's a great idea but not particularly a money-making idea iyswim. Running a profitable nursery is a business in itself. However, as a co-op thing I think it probably has legs:

- if you can get the space for the right price (double the space, double the price!)
- if you are 100% sure that you won't then need to fulfill the very complex regulations that childcare providers need to fulfill
- If you can be sure that there will be equal labour, ie if four people are doing it, they all do their fair share.
- if you can be sure that you can keep working while listening to your DC cry from the next door space (and that your clients will be OK with that if on site)
- in terms of childminders, again there is regulation around childminding and I'm pretty sure it's all based around the CM working in their own home. But maybe a nanny would be different?

But yes, I think it's a great idea. Although another pitfall is you'd have to put a lot of energy and time into sorting it out - which presumably is time you'd like to have for your work?

One of my friend's mums was a young widow and she did all her childcare through 'the circle' which was half a dozen parents who all 'communaled' (if that's not a word it should be) their babysitting time to enable the others to go out to work. It worked brilliantly for them.

ChickenLickenSticken Fri 12-Jul-13 21:31:11

Pre-school children are pretty demanding. I work from home and if my dd(19mo) is around I can't get anything done, even if someone else (DH, DM, Mil) is here to look after her, she still wants me and gets very frustrated when I try to crack on.

In theory it's great but I really think clear boundaries and dedicated care for the children are needed. In theory it sounds perfect, but I'm not sure it would work in reality.

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