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Work/Play Spaces: Hatch Homerton

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This newish space is tucked away behind Homerton station, but once you know it’s there you really can’t miss it. Alistair Skitt took up the challenge to turn an old factory into Hatch, a space for creativity and indie enterprise with the aim to encourage small businesses growth, not just by feeding their coffee habits or providing desk-space/ wifi, but also as a space for them to trade or sell their wares. Today he has a barber ‘Strop and Blade‘ in one corner, wooden spoons available from a local maker, breakfast options by 26 Grains up-cycled furniture scattered around on sale, a gallery space on the walls..

Although only open since May, Hatch is becoming somewhat of a hub for the more craft-based maker style small businesses that make up a large proportion of the new entrepreneur landscape. The space has a few desks, but this doesn't seem to be the focus of Hatch founder Alistair Skit. His background in bar and restaurant management, has geared his emphasis more towards providing a place for maker, service and food entrepreneurs to showcase and sell their products and skills. Does this count as a work/play space or is it simply a café with a community/maker focus?

Alistair's goal is to “create a venue designed to help and encourage small businesses, whether it's a barber, home ware sellers, graphic designers, food vendors and artists' but other than the graphic designers and artists these business aren't producing from the space so let's just say that it’s a bit of a hybrid and doesn't fit into the usual definitinition of co-working space, but that's precisely why it's interesting to include this as part of my exploration.

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So what’s Alistair’s motivation?

‘’There’s a benefit for everybody when you can share a space with like-minded people, everybody has their specialization and if you can get enough people with enough specialist skills together in the same place then hopefully everyone can help each other….”

So the idea of creating a café as the central area rather than as an annex is with the assumption that most of the businesses he is catering for need a place to showcase their work, so the café serves as a way to bring the public to a comfortable setting and introduce them to the services or wares of these small businesses. Quite a different concept from the workspaces with a café for their co-workers but for viability reasons also open to the public.

A multi-use space is more economically viable

“I do have various different revenue incomes, none of them are giant, they’re all fairly well balanced. The café obviously takes a fair amount of money but at the same time the overheads on the café are fairly high, the desk spaces, they’re fairly well used with no overheads but obviously doesn’t take quite as much as the café and then the money I get from the small businesses that work out of here, Ben’s pop up barber shop of 26 Grains, I just take a percentage cut, I don’t like to charge a flat rate” So yes it does make economic sense but Hatch does have a such homely community feel that this feels more like a logical outcome rather than a business planned revenue system.

The future for Hatch?

Perhaps Hatch is set to become the friendly co-working equivalent of a local market stall an unusual hybrid space catering for the needs of a locally based community of micro-businesses needing a low-risk launch-pad to introduce the public to what they do.

Listen to an interview with Alstair Skitt on SeedTheCity

#hatch #homerton #café #coworkingspace #hub #babrber

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