19 May The Story of Project House
Crystal and I started Project House Business Solutions almost three years ago, after years of being friends and next-door neighbours.
Our purpose when we launched our business was to create a flexible way to do what we love and excel at, and to help women who looking for meaningful and challenging work. There are so many women who, for a variety of reasons, want fulfilling part-time work. Perhaps they are striving to return to the workforce after having kids, or they don’t know what they’re good at, and hope to increase their experience and skillset. We want to create opportunities, confidence and a network for these ladies (while some of our talented team members and partners aren’t ladies, most are), and we meet them everywhere we go.
Between us, Crystal and I have 5 kids between the ages of 3 and 15. We both gave up a lot of time with our families in order to build up our careers, and together we decided we didn’t want to compromise any more – we wanted flexibility, autonomy, joy, and control. We wanted less ego, less judgment against passion, emotion, and empathy, and less unhealthy bullshit overall. We want our kids to understand that working, striving, learning, trying your best, and adding value to your community can be an ongoing and joyful endeavour.
When we first started our company, Crystal and I took an assessment that told us how we might be as partners. One hint it provided was that Crystal would have to give me room to talk through things, and I would have to keep myself from being overly sensitive to Crystal’s straight shooting. We got a lot of information and insight that has helped guide us as we make decisions and face obstacles. We have done this type of assessment with some of our team members as well, and this helps us to communicate better with different personalities.
We have since taken more tests and assessments, and each time we are blown away by how opposite and complementary we are. While I have learned to be more cautious, I like people and their challenges, teaching and coaching, thinking out loud, and working with people to solve a problem. Crystal likes to analyze and synthesize a huge amount of detail quickly and well, diving into a budget and numbers, and she is always in action and accomplishing.
I am a hugger, she is not. I am all about relationships, optimism and “who’s going to be there” and she is adventurous, fearless and independent. We both flex in each other’s direction, but we are also getting better and better at articulating what we don’t like doing, or even what we like doing but aren’t great at. I LOVE building a barn and putting on a show. I don’t really care how big a barn, how many seats, or even what show, which is where Crystal with her significant eye for detail and data becomes invaluable. Also sometimes I don’t really want to put on a show OR build a barn, I just want to sing in the show and say hi to everyone once it’s built… I don’t score as high in stress tolerance or independence and she doesn’t score as high as I do in empathy or flexibility. She’s way more fun and much more likely to take risks, and I’m much braver when she’s in the room. In combination, we are stronger, smarter and faster, and we are constantly evolving and sharpening our purpose and our message.
Project House clients are diverse, and their needs span all of our services and drive new ones. In the past months, we have worked on employee policies with Earnest Ice Cream, done space planning and furniture procurement at the head offices for Lush Cosmetics, trained managers in performance and feedback at Capcom Vancouver Game Studios, and designed a brand new logo and website for an architect, a beauty salon, and a family law firm. Our clients come to us from many different industries, and nearly all of them find us through referrals and recommendations from our network.
Project House offers a lot of services, and we feel they are very inter-related. We help companies find their voice and put their best foot forward, whether it’s a well designed and constructed website, handbook or onboarding program, support and training, a kind approach to terminating, an efficient way to manage clients, a beautiful office space, or a gorgeous new logo. We combine our team’s skills and experience to help companies be better, treat people better, use better systems, present themselves more clearly and beautifully, and add value to their employees, clients, and workspace.
I have to pinch myself sometimes – Crystal and I are entrepreneurs, business owners, and employers. We feel both the joy and the weight of responsibility, and we are definitely at our best (in our “flow”) when we are working together with clients who are action-focused, community-minded, and in need of our varying skills and strengths. This doesn’t always work out, but we getting wiser and more understanding when the relationship comes to an end, either because we’ve done our job to get them to the next level and they don’t need us anymore, or because we recognize we are not the best fit for each other.
Crystal and I love to learn new things and discover a new approach to our work. Next month is exciting for us, because we are taking a 4-day intensive training program to be certified in Emergenetics, which is a neuro/strength/ preference assessment that we will then be able to offer to our clients, with an eye toward improved communication, understanding, and productivity.
We continue to be supported and inspired by successful, strong, funny, vulnerable, kickass, powerful, kind, generous, smart, and talented women, and we are filled up by providing even a fraction of this to others.
Some of what we need from our “village” we get already: support, ideas, wine, friendship, partnership, services, referrals, and wine.
Our “asks” this year continue to evolve:
- We want help getting great clients and exciting work: the juicy stuff! (Like companies who need high quality websites, teams who need training and coaching, clients who are fun to work with and open to our business model);
- We want opportunities to share our story – we want to tell people about our company and what are creating for women who want to work in a flexible way, enhance their skills, make money, learn about business, grow their resumes, or meet other professionals – whatever they need to get where they want to go;
- We want to hear your stories! We learn by doing, but we also know that many people have already solved some big problems and developed best practices – we’d love to speed things up by getting some advice and by learning from your experience. We enjoy getting tips and tricks and discovering what you have learned, what mistakes you have made, and what makes you tick;
- We want to help you. The speed of trust is amazing – so if there are things you need from us, people we can connect you with, or ways we can cheer you on, please let us know.
And that’s our story – – – so far! We want to do all of the things – this isn’t so much a balancing act as it is a mad dash while juggling plates – sometimes everything is spinning beautifully and we are dazzled by our own skills and grace, and sometimes it is a f–king disaster with a little bit of crying… And every day we learn a little bit more about what we want, who we are, and what we’re capable of.