The Hive has an open seating cafe area, a lounge area, and a picnic area where everyone can visit or work absolutely free. So imagine, you need an hour of work time. You can go to the Hive, drop off your kids, get a latte, sit down and get done whatever you need, last minute or not! And, you know your kids are well taken care of. I was really interested in interviewing Shelly when I heard about the concept she was launching because I think there is such need for spaces like The Hive, and I selfishly wish we had a Hive near me.
Shelly Pace Weiser. She is the owner of The Hive which is located in Austin, Texas. She is happily married to her husband, Brent, and they have 2 lovely kids, Annie and Owen. She is originally from Baton Rouge, LA. She also has a dog and 2 cats.
How it all started. Shelly narrates that the idea started in Christmas 2 years ago. She is a graphic designer by profession. One afternoon, one of her clients' websites was hacked so she has to work but she also has to take care of the kids by herself because Brent was traveling. When her husband came home that night, she suggested that they should open a place where people can go to do whatever they needed to do. But he said no because of their busy schedules and the risks that come with opening up a business. Despite her husband's hesitation, she did her research and started asking around. People from her network are mostly moms and they loved the idea and asked her to open a place right away. After several conversations with her husband, they decided to put up a place for everyone to visit, now called The Hive.
The Perfect Location. Originally, they thought of a coffee shop with a play area in it. Then it evolved into a play cafe with a supervision. Shelly shares that the hardest part of the past 2 years was finding the right location. At first, she was envisioning a drive-by near other shops closer to the center of town but it was not affordable. She wanted to find a spot that she can afford and could see her vision working in. She almost gave up numerous times until her realtor told her on December 15 that he found the perfect location.
"It is an old house on an acre. So we have a whole acre and there are beautiful pecan trees and cows next door, but it is still super close to the city, it's about 15-18 minutes from downtown. It's also not in Austin proper so permitting was easier. Just everything all around was perfect."
She signed the lease in June, renovated the place with the help of the owner, and one day, she decided to do a food truck instead. She transformed a traditional space into something non-traditional.
"As with the whole venture, I really had no idea what I'm doing. I just research it day by day. And then two weeks later, my husband and I were driving off campus with the kids in the car and a food truck behind us."
"It's not like I was totally uneducated in the food industry because I waited tables for 10 years when I was younger and I actually loved it. I know food industry a little bit in general and that was a learning experience. One thing that I'd probably say at least once a week is "fake it 'til you make it". I have done that a lot. Eventually, learning things that I had no idea about and raising toddlers at the same time. I think my personality leads it to being a little less stressful because I do pretty good under pressure."
The Hive Layout. It is an old ranch-style house.
The middle bedroom was turned into a conference room/boardroom that can be rented for $25 per hour. They are currently working on having massage tables for their Massage Mondays as requested by their customers.
The back bedroom is now the co-working room with 4 desks which can be rented monthly. The rent comes with child care, bottled wine on Fridays, printing and WiFi.
On the left side of the house was the garage.They put walls around it, insulated it, installed an air conditioner and turned it into a child care area. There is also an outdoor fenced play area where they put a goldfish pond made out of an old cast-iron tub and a chalkboard which used to be old door panels.
There is a separate area for crawlers so they won't get knocked over by toddlers. They put a long skinny one-way window in between the main house hall and the garage so parents can peek in and check on their kids. So, the right side of the house is the co-working area, the middle main area is the coffee shop, and the left side is the child care area.
Shelly At Work. The Hive officially opened on October 23, 2017. Shelly mentions that it was terrifying in the beginning but now it is exciting and fun. She remembers her friends bugging her to open though she is not yet done painting and decorating the place. She was surprised and happy at the same time when her first customer walked in.
"It's not scary anymore. It's fun and exciting. It kind of settled into my daily routine of "this is my life for a long time". This is going to be my daily routine and it's fun. Even the scary parts are fun."
"What I found myself needing to be with the customers visiting and doing tours. Letting them see my face, that I'm just another mom and somehow I did this so they can connect to the company and the business in general. It helps me connect with my customers."
Shelly's Sacrifice. Shelly is doing full-time work in The Hive. It looks easy but it really is not. The kids didn't really completely understand the situation. She shares that she was not able to accomplish the work that she needed to accomplish. She mentions that she has a little bit of a mom-guilt as far as doing such a huge venture when her kids were so young and she's worried that it would affect them somehow. She gets support and motivation from her close friends and her husband, Brent.
"There is always pros and cons. And the pros of them watching their mom do something amazing and work her butt off to do it outweighs the cons of me not being near to make fresh meatloaf. Maybe we have tacos for the third night in a row. But that doesn't outweigh what they're seeing on a daily basis and how it's affecting them."
Shelly shares that her father was self-employed for 35 years. An important lesson she learned from him is perseverance. She learned that business is not always going to be easy and that there are bad things that could go with it. She gets her inspiration from her father's successes and failures which is why she continues to do what she is doing now. She's hoping that someday, her kids will also learn from her and do something great.
"To my children, you can do it. Don't give up. Day by day, the struggles will happen but awesome days will happen as well. Just focus on the awesome ones and push through on the days that are hard."
Challenges. A bad day happened a week or two ago when the toilet stopped up and it turned out they had to re-pipe the whole place. Shelly and her staff members did everything they could but nothing's working so they had to call a plumber. They found out that the pipes were already corroded and they had to replace them with PVC pipes. They got everything fixed in time before the big event last Saturday.
Their biggest struggle at this point is explaining to people what the real concept is. Since it is something new, people are still wondering whether it is a co-working space, a coffee shop, or a play area. Shelly wants people to know that they are 3 separate things and that they don't have to have kids to enjoy the place. Shelly also shares that marketing is a bit tricky because they have to market to people that work from home for the co-working aspect and to parents for the child care aspect.
Vision for the Future. The Hive has turned into a beautiful events space. A lot of people have asked her if they could organize an event in the area. Though events are something that Shelly is not planning on having soon, she is open to possibilities of having Christmas parties or wedding rehearsal dinners. She also shares that people have come in for classes that didn't necessarily know about The Hive. The classes have shown to be more beneficial for business than she thought it would be.
"One year from now, we will be more of a smooth, well-oiled machine, have kinks worked out and just be having a great time and a great ride with our community and customers."
Shelly mentions that she wants to focus on making it more of a community aspect which is one of the reasons why she named the place "The Hive". She wanted everybody working together doing their part. She wants the community to grow into a huge hive of people enjoying life together. In 5 years, she envisions to have 3 hives - North Hive, East Hive, and West Hive.
Words of Wisdom.
"Do your research. Check your market. Make sure it's a viable idea whatever the idea may be. Just do your homework to whatever your venture is that you're wanting to do. Just take it day by day. Some days are hard, some days are fun, some days you just want to stay in bed and cry. Don't try to bite off too much of the time. One step at a time and you'll get to the top of that mountain soon enough. Keep going."
How to learn more about Shelly.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/shellypace