A peek inside our team’s side projects and how they are dramatically improving our lives.
At any given time, our team has a side project running.
It’s often a new book or a cooking class or a new plant or a language. Other times it’s new photography styles. Sometimes it’s trying to design new things in illustrator. This culture of new projects and new improvements runs throughout our entire team.
Like many, spending our time in this way has made us happier, healthier, and more excited to tackle new challenges.
Today, we’re excited to share some of the “off-duty” projects our team is currently working on, hoping you might find a new spark of inspiration or two!
Yash, Founder & CEO / Plants
This past summer, I spent a day at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and that inspired my current side project. At the time, I was on the road for over three weeks and beginning to worry about my houseplants back in Vancouver. Were my friends watering them? Could they tell if a plant was happy by looking at the leaves?
Once I returned to Vancouver, I knew the next few months would be filled with long hours and needed a project that gave me something to look forward to on a regular basis. From there, #52plants was born - one new house plant a week for one year.
Today, is week 24. I have added 24 new plants and have more greenery than the average apartment dweller. There’s a good mix of succulents, cacti, moss, ferns, and few large tropicals that bring it all together. I get asked often how I plan to fit 52 plants into an apartment living room. It doesn’t look like the jungle that people assume it does. I’m building a mini indoor jungle and each weekend I spend a few hours search for the next plant. I collect them in a series; hanging plants, desert plants, and of course tropical series. I’m really excited to start finding aquatic plants this summer (yes, there are plans for a mini pond inside my apartment).
#52plants has been a calming presence in an otherwise whirlwind startup life. Documenting the project on Instagram has been a good way to capture memories from weeks that pass quickly. My favourite part of the day is a morning coffee, attentively tending to my plants before the day starts.
Yvonne, Graphic Designer / Paper
I am obsessed with intricate work, anything that looks tedious is right up my alley. I think a lot of people are the same way. That must be why Johanna Basford’s adult colouring books are so popular. There is something about doing things bit by bit, repeating the same procedure and watching it slowly build into something in a larger scale.
When I’m stressed I find these tedious crafts very therapeutic. My projects vary from time to time, but mostly involving paper. Paper is my favorite medium, it’s very sculptable and non committal. I think one of my favourite project I’ve done was when I sewed patterns onto paper. It started as personalized notebooks for my friends. I’d sew their initials onto the cover of the notebook in stylized typography. Then I started doing patterns, this one is a remix of the famous Bird Fish tessellation by M.C. Escher.
Recently a friend of mine gave me this paper modeling kit. You can build a tiny little Kinkaku-ji temple out of it. It looks like it will require tweezer and magnifying glass, and a lot of patience. I can’t wait to get started on it.
Ellen, Head of Marketing / Pants
As a Midwestern farm kid growing up, I’ve got an affinity for crafting. I’ve always liked to get my hands dirty. I’m a strong believer in side-projects because I think they can be the best learning tools, and because they remind me how beautiful imperfect things can be.
A few summers ago, when I was living in Hong Kong, I felt very inspired by the simplicity of it all. It felt like somehow everyone and everything had found a way of doing more with less - and that included the personal style and wardrobes. I remember being on the MTR from Chia Wan to Wan Chai when I saw a beautiful woman wearing these taupe wide-legged trousers. I stared in awe and thought “When I get back to the city, I will buy a sewing machine and make a pair of pants like those.” I often think about that moment when I’m sitting behind my Singer Confidence sewing machine on these cold wintery nights.
Have you ever tried sewing? If you haven’t but you’re interested, I’d start by grabbing a copy of Women In Clothes. It’s one of my favorite books - it’s a brilliant and unique exploration of the questions we ask ourselves while getting dressed every day, and the answers from more than six hundred women around the world.
Sewing has become part of my weekly routine, but I like to fit in other smaller side projects here and there. Next on my list is a hand drawn wallpaper class from Skillshare - check it out! Who wants to wallpaper with me? :)
Tyler, Senior Developer / Fish
I have always had a fascination with fish. From forcing my parents to build a pond in our yard when I was 8 to having an aquarium through high school. I took a few years off during my transient university years. Recently, I refound my passion for aquariums. When visiting at my partner’s parent’s house his mother asked him to get rid of his old aquarium on craigs list. When we got it home I had decided that I really wanted an aquarium and went out the next day to get some supplies. Over the last 4 months I have been adding fish and plants, and aquascaping to build a beautiful aquarium.
This lass and lad are my German Blue Rams Bonnie and Clyde. They are the pride of my aquarium. When I first introduced Bonnie into the aquarium 1 month ago she and Clyde got along well and spawned within a few days. I was not prepared and lost all the eggs from a snail attacking the nest. I am hoping they spawn again soon so I can do a better job and be a better fish father. View a video of Bonnie and Clyde here.
I have a few of these guys that keep my glass clean. They are master acrobats, and it is very amusing to watch them hang off of plants and cruise around on the glass!
Morgan, UX Designer / Maker
I love making things..and I can’t stop - maybe that’s why I’m a designer? My main side projects are making ceramics and textile dying. I learned how to hand-dye wool (as well as spinning wool and weaving) in a small village in the Netherlands during an internship 4 years ago and came back to Canada will a new found drive to disconnect from the computer and work with my hands.
I love learning about old techniques and applying them to things that would look good in a contemporary setting. I also make zines, candles, and recently finished up a #100daysproject of plant-related objects.
Adam, Co-Founder & COO / Food
Side projects for me always revolve food, which usually always involves my friends. Outside of thisopenspace, you can find me at Prairie Boy Bakery in Toronto where I am a minority partner. I like meeting our customers and educating them on our products, the ingredients we use and the farmers we work with. We bring in a lot of local products and it makes for great conversation with lots of characters rolling through. I also work on getting new chefs and artisan grocers to bring in our products.
A good friend and I used to run a social dining series called DIne X Dash, we would team up with new restaurants on a set menu and combine it with a group social activity afterwards like axe throwing or a live 12 piece Motown band. We had a blast getting to meet other young professionals and we tried to split up groups of friends so people had to sit with strangers. On the weekends you can usually find me at one of Toronto’s many farmers markets hanging out with producers, sampling new vegetables and picking out that day's flavors.
I love the process around preparing for a meal with friends, from imagining the dish, checking out my cook books for a little inspiration (although I rarely make anything from one specific recipe) searching out ingredients across the city from producers and local businesses - it’s all part of the fun. I’m the guy that makes the chili for the super bowl party, even though I don’t even watch football, I just like feeding my friends. Cooking for me is meditative, I get to take my mind off everything else and just focus on creating a delicious experience. I try to fit in as much time as I can with my friends and the best way to do that is over an excellent meal, good music and choice drinks.
Food is such an important connecter and and if I am not making it, I’m out with friends trying something new or dining at an old favourite. Sometimes I think the team thinks I’m a bit nuts because I ask a lot of questions pertaining to what they are eating for lunch or what they ate for dinner last night, but I can’t help it. I want to know about all of the foods, all of the time. Here are some of my favorite cook books: Thug Kitchen, True North, and Jerusalem: A Cookbook.
What side projects and hobbies do you pursue? What's on your list to start next? We’d love to hear your experiences and ideas in the comments.