I first discovered co-working and community space, You Belong Here, when I took my son to our new favorite weekend activity: Drag Queen Story Hour. I got to take a look at the space, and eventually began renting the podcast studio to record with my podcast guests for Pretty Okay. But the thing that really sold me was the heart behind the space. I’ve followed along with Nic Rocero, one of the co-owners, for several years now, so I already admired her voice and activism. After meeting Stacy and spending time in the space, I knew I had to share their story. Read on to learn more about these incredible entrepreneurs, what drove them to create this space, and how they manage to stay productive while juggling it all.
photo by Alyssa Mopia
Can you each tell us a bit about who you are and about your business?
Stacy: I’m passionate about photography, churros and getting outside of my comfort zone. Photography became my passion and career about 10 years ago, allowing me to become part of a new creative community that embraced me with open arms.
I studied public relations in college, but learned how to use a camera by hanging around some very talented and patient folks. It’s become my mission to pay forward this privilege to others who are looking to express their voice through art—and to serve as an advocate for creatives and marginalized people of all kinds.
Nic: I’m a self-made and self-taught graphic designer/entrepreneur/small-business owner. A lover of community, travel, tiny things, dogs and gardening. Gin and scotch, please! My personal business, The Roc Shop, was the foundation that helped give way to You Belong Here. The Roc Shop is a very outspoken and activist-driven partyware brand. I knew I wanted to really take my message further into action, thus You Belong Here was the perfect outlet to help me connect with more people and provide a platform for their voices.
I’ve spent a good part of my life waiting to be accepted and wanting to belong…waiting for confirmation of my existence and my abilities. With You Belong Here, I learned I don’t have to wait to be invited to the table, I just bring my own (total rebel). No more asking for someone’s permission to radiate greatness. With You Belong Here, I am without limits. I can dabble in work and passions, whether that be in art, education, expression or giving back to my community. I am driven by heart, compassion, humility and empathy.
I’ve spent a good part of my life waiting to be accepted and wanting to belong…waiting for confirmation of my existence and my abilities. With You Belong Here, I learned I don’t have to wait to be invited to the table, I just bring my own.
How did YBH come to be?
Purely from a place of wanting to do more for our community and to share our platform and space with other creatives and aspiring entrepreneurs to help them thrive.
We love the community-centric focus that the space offers. What are the core values you built the business on?
SPACE. COMMUNITY. CULTURE. EDUCATION.
We built You Belong Here to take up SPACE, build COMMUNITY, highlight the beautiful CULTURES within San Diego and to provide resources and EDUCATION to thriving creatives and entrepreneurs. We believe in radical inclusivity.
We both struggled with finding a sense of belonging throughout our lives and wanted to create a space for those who felt the same. A space where they could belong and be empowered. As business owners and entrepreneurs, we get that starting and maintaining a business often requires a serious financial investment, and that resources and education are sometimes hard to come by. Thus, we wanted to create a collaborative workspace, where people can share resources and help one another thrive. We do our best to ensure that wherever we take up space, that we honor and uplift the voices and culture within that community.
What’s your dream vision for YBH? What do you hope the space will mean to people in 10 years?
Bringing people together. We’re excited to see how the community grows and evolves! In 10 years, we hope we have a couple more spaces that become a beacon of “community and compassion”—a place where everyone feels like they belong.
We do our best to ensure that wherever we take up space, that we honor and uplift the voices and culture within that community.
What are some of your must-have tools for staying productive and organized?
We utilize project management software, specifically Teamwork, to stay on top of our tasks, record our meetings, develop programming and plan events. We have found that by automating our business utilizing software such as QuickBooks, Acuity calendar, online forms and Nexudus (co-working software), we’re able to put a lot of administrative tasks on auto-pilot, so that we can focus more on people and building relationships with our community.
How do you find motivation when you aren’t feeling your most productive?
Sometimes taking a break can work wonders. Even just a day (or a few hours!) away from your desk can help reset motivation levels. Hobbies and passion projects are helpful, too. Taking a break to do something creative makes it easier to get back to the work that may not be quite as fun.
Do you ever experience burnout? What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs who feel overwhelmed?
We organize a lot of events—from educational workshops to community events, and art openings and panel discussions. We sometimes have eight events in one week on top of our full-time jobs, so burnout is inevitable. Since there are two of us, we are mindful about dividing up tasks and communicating to each other about our individual workloads, and speak up when we need a break or have too much on our plate.
For those who aren’t as fortunate to have an awesome business partner, it’s important to set boundaries with their clients when it comes to things like appropriate work hours, and schedule days off to get out in nature or treat yourself to a massage or other form of self-care.
What’s your ideal working scenario for being your most productive?
This is something we’re still figuring out! In an ideal scenario, there would probably be less multitasking and bouncing around from one task to another. Focused time to get work done and be efficient is what we crave the most. Right now, we’re working on further streamlining a few of our offerings and bringing in some additional help for day-to-day tasks.
photography by Stacy Keck
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