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Julia Archer, the proprietress of @Work Design (7500 Madison Street, Forest Park), is interested in knowing if you are an inny or an outy. Before you reveal too much, know that she is referring to your workspace and your preferred learning style. Do you prefer that materials in your space are stored inside or are outside? For some, having tools exposed is distracting, for others it is necessary to be productive.
Julia’s uncommon shop offers a unique range of products for the inny, the outy, and everyone in between. Quality-based workspace furnishings, innovative lifestyle products, and urbane supplies for home and work all serve one purpose: each offers a functional solution to help you and I maximize our space, our time, and our potential.
Here you will find items with a modern aesthetic, including smart desks, stylish seating, and unusual storage. Don’t be fooled by the fabulous, sleek designs and bold palette of colors; Julia’s practical products have all found a home at @Work Design by virtue of their problem solving properties.
An architect of sorts, Julia helps clients design the most effective workspace or home environ. She is also a magnetic mentor who likes the idea of educating her customers. She shares, “I’m not just providing a product, but a way for people to improve their lives.” She facilitates workshops, which offer hope for the organizationally challenged - workshops with promising names like Cut Through the Clutter and Taking Control of Your Inbox.
Julia offers guidance for those seeking to “stay inspired and get comfortable in their space.” She expounds, “These products support us; they fit into our work lifestyle, where we integrate work into life.” Whether you work out of the home or you work in your home, it serves to reason that we need a space, a constructive one, to complete tasks.
"An organized and comfortable space is an investment to yourself and your environment, one that improves your work and way of life." She offers the gentle, but much needed, reminder regarding the holy grail of constructing the consummate workspace, “You don’t just flip a switch; it’s about your learning style and the process. It has to make sense to you.” At her store and in her workshops, she asks you to think about this process.
Julia reflects on her own evolutionary process that brought her to open the doors of her shop three years ago. With 25 years of design management, brand strategy, and retail design experience under her belt, Julia decided to leave corporate America. She took a year off to work as a consultant, and it was during this period of time, while working with designers, architects, and manufacturers, people with a strong design aesthetic, that the idea of a storefront soon unfurled in her mind.
“I wanted to offer products people don’t have, items that are harder to find, and to present them in a new way. The question was: how do I get there?” Nine months progressed; the market was plummeting, but Julia advanced her plan for this visionary shop. “If something came up that was prohibitive, I would stop, but every roadblock was cleared away.”
While Julia understands that people shop differently today, with many turning to technology and the web to satisfy their purchasing needs, it was important for her to have a storefront. “Part of the shopping experience is going there to see the product and touch it. Finding it makes for appreciating what you gravitate towards and what is worth having. If feels special and important.” She does have an online presence, and recognizes that the web reaches out to people throughout the United States and abroad.
As customers stroll in and out of Julia’s shop, it is obvious that there is a built-in benefit to shopping here. She can help the most frazzled customer figure out what tools are necessary to increase productivity and how to make each item work for you. She asks about your habits, explaining, “Everyone works differently and uses their space differently; we need different tools to support us. Often we can’t figure out why what we’re doing isn’t working for us, we default to what we have been doing.”
She advises, “Don’t go in and just clean your space, but understand the process. If you’re going to organize, then take on one area at a time. Break it down so it’s not overwhelming. Create piles to throw away, keep, give away, and archive.”
She offers words of encouragement, for those who might be easily daunted or dissuaded from tackling such a task: “Think in terms of what works and what doesn’t. There is no right or wrong. You can enhance your productivity based on needs, there is no reinventing the wheel.”
Today, Julia works steadfastly towards her goals at her independent specialty store, “This venture has forced me to develop in many ways. This experience has allowed me to learn so much about several different areas, areas I had to develop an expertise in. I’ve become the generalist, taking on many roles.”
As a shrewd businesswoman, Julia had to develop and tailor a personal organizing system that would work for her. “Whether you are a mom, or an entrepreneur, space should be comfortable, you should love to be in it, and be able to be productive. Put energy into it and it feels personal to your work style. It becomes a place where you can do all the things you need to do.”
Take a peek at the photo gallery for a sampling of Julia's quality-based and award winning products or visit www.atworkdesign.com for more information.
Answer Book 2016
To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2016 Answer Book, please click here.
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