In Conversation with Marisa Johnson of La Create Sp_ce

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Describe La Create Sp_ce in a few words?

A space for our community to Meet, Create, and Take Advantage of New Opportunities.

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

Moving to LA’s South Bay from San Francisco’s Bay Area, we were unable to find any co-working space like the ones we were used to in OUR COMMUNITY. We needed a place to work on our consulting company, needed a place to work and meet with clients outside our apartment, especially with a baby on the way.

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

I have been in the tech + entertainment space for a little over ten years. I’ve produced projects for brands like Apple, Beats by Dre, The NBA and I have consulted for many athletes and entertainers coming on to take their concepts and businesses and help strategize, prioritize and ultimately bring their idea to life. 
I’m a wife to a wonderful man who supports me. Terell and I have two beautiful daughters. I also have a podcast called Mommy Needs a Break where we celebrate the imperfections of motherhood. 

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Yes, from when I was in elementary school I would research entrepreneurs like Diddy and study where they went to school, how they would package an album cover and how he would introduce new artists by collaborating. Always noticing the fine details in all great creators.

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

My strategy is always to do what I have control over. Tackle the low hanging fruit in order to open up the larger opportunities. I love partnering with people in an effort to grow together. Leaning out the gate on our relationships were huge starting out. I wore a lot of hats in the beginning (I still do) however I applied what I learned when I was a Digital Producer at Beats by Dre when they were starting out and that was to just get it done! Late nights, early morning you do what you have to do to make it to the next day.

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

The most challenging time for me is transitioning from motherhood to business owner.  Since we have opened I have birthed two beautiful daughters and the struggle for me is switching over my mom hat to my wife hat to my business owner hat. What I have learned is it takes time and everyone is different, learn to delegate, learn to trust those who are around and know that the work will be there when you get back. If you have to turn off work then turn it off. 

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

Professionally – Turning our abandoned building into a beautiful space. Whenever I see someone creating in the vision we saw for ourselves always makes me proud and gives me assurance I’m on the right path. It shows me when you bet on yourself the outcome is limitless. 

When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?

What are you currently working on?  I’m always curious about what people do in their personal time. I’ve found that strong team members who work on perfecting their side hustle have more appreciation for what you’re building in the beginning stages.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

As 2020 began, La Create Sp_ce was thriving. The space had an active community of members. The business had started to turn a profit, they had several big events and activities planned, we had added staff, and everything was going strong. Then the pandemic shut everything down.

Our place was a space where people came together, had meetings and did productions; not being able to come together hit us hard,” The pandemic stopped us completely for three months. We had to cancel and refund memberships. It affected us greatly.

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

Working with an entrepreneurial incubator in South LA called Grid 110/Pledge LA  that empowers black and brown businesses, we were able to find the resources we  needed to get back on our feet, and in doing so, help our members get back on their feet as well. 

This January we will be launching our Virtual Community and will be partnering with amazing Tech companies to bring our members workshops, one on one training with experts and events giving black and brown businesses the tools they need to set up their businesses.  We will begin offering digital consulting and helping members to use social media platforms and virtual resources more effectively. 

Lots of people want to do podcasts, they want to expand to video, or have online events—we help them do it all.  We can also provide infrastructure for small companies by helping them with marketing campaigns, production services, creating a quote system, even something as simple as ensuring they have a business email.”

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

Take one day at a time. 

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

That being your authentic self is more than enough.  Doing the things that you love ultimately allows you to reach and help more people. When I started out I felt like I needed to be in a box that I was always trying to break out of.

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

Self Care, eating whole foods, taking healing baths, reading more books.  My daughters always keep me grounded regardless of what is going on in the world. They always look up at me with a smile on their face.  It slows me down and forces me to be in the moment, 

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

100%. If my homelife isn’t working nothing works for me. I like to get up early so I can get back home to my family. Cutting off work around 4pm to transition into wife/mommy mode is important.  Knowing that the email can wait until tomorrow. I recently moved my phone off of my nightstand at night so it isn’t the first and last thing I look at.

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

I’m a vegan!

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

Wake up early, move your body and make a list!

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

Having a network of powerful women making things happen is everything!  Knowing you’re not alone in the highs and lows encourages me to keep going.

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