Hey everyone and welcome (sort of) to Encircled’s new HQ! We thought it was about time that we introduced you to our new space, as well as give you some insight into why we needed to move (hint: 600 square feet is pretty tiny with six employees + one puppy). Shout out to Angela for her camera lens and Kristi for partaking in our Q&A interview.
How and when did you decide it was time to move Encircled’s HQ?
Kristi: I decided it was time to move around March 2017 - we’d just had an incredible February and kept adding more staff, fabric, and stock. I started to realize how space constrained we were in our existing office (which was about 600 square feet). People were literally tripping over fabric rolls!
Our lease was also expiring in June and I felt like it was now or never, so I began to look for spaces with our realtor in March. Commercial real estate has a much longer lead time, mainly because of the long leases and pre-possession renovation that needs to occur. I actually only saw two spaces before deciding on the one we’re in today. The first space I saw needed extensive renovation. There were birds living IN the building, and no central air. It felt like too much to take on. The second space was it.
It was scary to make the leap and take on a 5-year lease that was 2.5x our current rent. Like most things in life, I had to just take the chance and go for it. I knew that we could always sub-lease the space if needed, and would have room to grow into it over the next few years.
The lounge area
What made you decide that this was the space for Encircled?
Kristi: I immediately fell in love with the space - I think it was the light. The former tenants were photographers, and it has beautiful windows along both the south and west walls, offering light throughout the day. The ceilings are 14-feet high and it has a true industrial feel. It felt very much on brand with Encircled. I could tell it had a lot of potential.
What’s your favourite part of the office?
Kristi: The kitchen and dining area! I love the light in that space. We invested in my dream table - a marble topped tulip table inspired by one of my favourite mid-century modern designers, Eero Saarinen. It’s also nice to have a full kitchen with running water, a dishwasher and full fridge. Previously we had a shared kitchen and a mini fridge which was way overstuffed. It feels like a home, and the table is a nice gathering and meeting space.
The in-studio shopping area
Did you have a style vision for what you wanted the Encircled space to be
Kristi: Minimalist and multifunctional, just like our clothing! I love mid-century modern furniture because they truly focused on the design and function equally. There are a few vintage pieces in here like my grandmother’s teak chair, and of course, my Saarinen inspired table.
Minimalist design to me needs white walls. It lets the furnishings and the inside of the space be the focal point and makes the space feel airy and bright, especially during our long Canadian winters. The space was covered with a fresh coat of white paint before we moved in.
I also wanted the space to be multifunctional - I envisioned an eating/meeting space, an open-concept kitchen, a production/sampling lab, warehousing, office space, photography space, a lounge and shop in studio. If you see the before pictures, you’ll see how much vision was truly needed to see the space in its current form! The previous tenants had put up walls everywhere in strange places.
I actually expected the unit to be in better condition when we took possession. It was not anywhere near ‘move in ready’. A good lesson for me to expect the unexpected. There was drywall, glass, and metal everywhere from the walls that were torn down. The tenants decided to take the kitchen without telling us, and the bathroom was horrific. The sink was also missing. So, I had a renovation on my hands. One that wasn’t expected nor budgeted for! This is typical of being an entrepreneur. Every corner has a new surprise.
With the help of our team member Kendra, we designed a kitchen, and ordered bathroom fixtures, hired a plumber, electrician, carpenter, and bought appliances. It all came together fairly quickly (in under a month) and by June 1st, the team was able to move in.
The samples and cutting area
Our new studio is constantly evolving, where do you see Encircled in 5 years time?
Kristi: In the remaining months of this year we’ll be finishing our in-studio shop and building our own ‘sampling lab’. This means bringing in fabric cutting tables and a few industrial sewing machines, as well as storage. We’ll also likely add a few desks as we continue to grow our team.
Next year, we’re going to take on additional space as I want to build a small-batch production facility in-house for Encircled.
The original vision was to do it in our current space, but it’s just too small and having even small scale production would be extremely disruptive to an office environment.
So, the hunt for a new space will begin. I’m trying to find something close to our current office, but with industrial zoning so that there’s a loading dock (needed for fabric and equipment deliveries). Many sewing contractors are in buildings without windows but I want our space to feel warm and welcoming. So this will be a challenge!
It’s likely that the new space will also serve as our warehousing/stock room, so I expect to move our inventory into that space at some point in the next year. This will make room for a larger shopping area, and more desk space for our ever-growing team.
In 5 years, we’ll probably need a larger space. At some point, I’d like to have everything in one building similar to brands like Elizabeth Suzann, Groceries Apparel and Reformation. The ability to have your production, design, marketing, operations, finance and supply chain operations all in one building really creates the platform for building a unique company culture.
I love our new space. It’s not that long ago that I was packing orders on my kitchen island, paying my friends in pizza to help in my 500 square foot condo in downtown Toronto.
I had a vision though for my dream office space and for the most part it’s come true. Right down to having a neighbour that has a yoga studio!
We’re also hosting an event in September in our space, and hope to have shopping days on one weekend day each month through the end of the year and potentially host speakers and workshops in the near future. If you’d like to RSVP just click below!
If you’re in Toronto, I invite you to stop by our studio. We’re open 9-5 Monday to Friday, and would be happy to show you our space and let you shop our collection in person. Email us to setup an appointment.
If you want to see more of the behind the scenes action at our space, I invite you to follow us on Instagram.
All photos are copyright Encircled. Contact us for permissions/rights to re-use or repost images.