It is sometimes a nuisance or inconvenience for a freelancer or entrepreneur to travel to local coffee shops, in the hopes of getting work completed, when seats are unavailable, or when the environment is too distracting and even when the Wi-Fi is occasionally spotty. But one Peoria entrepreneur is changing the independent-workers landscape with a new space she created in the West Valley, complete with amenities.
Malia Battilana is a Glendale native who created her business called the Collective AZ at 8271 W. Lake Pleasant Parkway, Suite 104, Peoria.
“We actually started as a shared photography workspace and then we moved to a more creative-community shared workspace,” Battilana said. “People would come in, use it to work because of people who didn’t want to work from home. They rent space here and use it to grow their businesses.”
When she noticed non-photographers visiting the space, the thought of Pop-Up Coworking space came to mind. Currently, her co-op space hosts a free small business work event in a community-type setting every Friday night, where any freelance worker or small-business owner can work without the typical roadblocks or interruptions. Light music plays in the background, the Wi-Fi is strong and accessible, facilities are available and snacks are provided.
She felt the need to add it because she realized people in the West Valley, especially in Peoria, work from home and noted it tends to get lonely. According to a Forbes magazine story, “21% of remote workers named ‘loneliness’ as one of their main on-the-job issues.”
Battilana said she her customers tend to be creative types, “Such as freelancers, graphic designers, hand makers, teaching, Instagram strategist or coaches. They needed a space to work out of. It is kind of awesome, over the past year we moved more into a creative shared workspace where people can come and host events and workshops here.”
Battilana stressed the importance of maintaining a community-based atmosphere for creative clientele. She does not want her business to morph into a stuffy corporate-type environment.
“We are not those types of offices you go into and it’s really dark furniture,” Battilana said. “We have live plants; we have a swing. People say it’s really calm in here. You definitely need that inspiration, being put into a box or something stuffy doesn’t really do it for us.”
Battilana created this business space around three years ago. She first fell in love with photography 10 years ago, today she only specializes in maternity and child photography. She has also been a teacher in the Peoria Unified School District. Later, she convinced her husband to expand her photography business to full-time.
“I went out on my own and have done everything,” Battilana said, “From traveling to locations, people’s homes, working out of my own home, having a little studio and finally getting the space I am in now. That has all been in 10-to-12 years.”
Not only does the studio have a weekly coworking event, but it also offers a variety of lifestyle and business classes. For instance, on Monday and Thursday evenings, the studio is host to Buti yoga, a nontraditional cardio-intense yoga. The Collective AZ also teaches business practices like Instagram strategies for small-business owners and tax talks.
“I just love the West Valley, I love the entrepreneurship here,” Battilana said. “I wanted to provide something where people don’t feel lonely and we can come together. Not only can you get stuff done but you can collaborate as well. Peoria doesn’t have anything like that. Which is really why we developed it for entrepreneurs who maybe have home offices or go to coffee shops a few times a week.”
Her business plan is once again broadening. She is looking into a larger co-op workspace - where she could build individual offices to rent to her clientele. She also plans to expand her business and new space into a service-and-product-based business, as well as a photography studio with an open flat space where freelancers can work and mingle collectively.
“We are expanding in 2020 and people should really look out for this coworking space out in Peoria because it is going to be super exciting,” Battilana said. “We are working with Peoria Forward which is ASU’s Entrepreneur + Innovation grant program.
“We are working with the city and working with all these leaders in the West Valley to make something really unique and different out here.”
The Collective Studio AZ does not have specific hours and its website is under construction during its rebranding. For more information on the studio, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit facebook.com/thecollectivestudioaz/.