One’s an elegantly chic mommy whom you can never tell had already been through motherhood the third time; the other’s an endearing blue-eyed blonde whose handsome little smile turns your heart to a mess of mush.
Meet Claudia Keller, the ever stylish and established businesswoman and founder of Corporate and Style and third time mom, and her little boy, Eric Keller, the ever adorable toddler whose charming eyes and dashing grin never fail to light up the faces of those who interact with him.
Claudia and Eric come to Trehaus – one for work, getting into the serious business of day-to-day planning, execution, coordination and management of the company’s local and international design team and its clients; the other for play, getting into the fun and fuss-free business of exploring the Atelier, interacting with toddlers his age and engaging in play-based activities.
We caught up with Claudia for our Member Spotlight this month to ask how this work and play arrangement is working out for her and Eric, and how she juggles running a business and THREE kids.
8 Questions for Claudia Keller
How did you hear of Trehaus?
I know Tjin Lee (one of the founders of Trehaus) through another organization and asked her for a meeting. Tjin suggested to meet up at Trehaus and that’s how I fell in love with Trehaus.
How has your experience at Trehaus been so far since April?
I am at Trehaus two days a week. For me, this is the perfect solution. The remaining days, I am working from home or with the clients. As I am working alone in my business, the days at Trehaus gives me the feeling of being a part of something – a community. I see and meet different people here, and have interactions with them as compared to sitting in my office or at home alone.
What made you decide to bring Eric with you to work?
My kids are the trigger for me quitting my corporate job and starting my own business. This all worked well – I worked mostly from home – until my third child, Eric, came along. I knew I needed to find a solution that included him if I wanted to continue with my business.
I looked at several shared work space options, or even considered renting an office. All of it appeared as unnecessary costs to my business because I still found no solution for Eric and being the involved mother I wished to be. I could send Eric to infantcare. It would have been a possibility, but in my eyes, in my heart, deep down, this was not an option I wanted. I want to spend more time with my kids and be around them.
For me, Trehaus was the solution!
Being able to bring Eric along to work gives me the feeling that I am with him and he is with me. Every “Trehaus day” is OUR time. With three kids in one house, I personally think it is important to spend a little bit of quality time with each of them alone. So that they have 100% of Mommy. Coming to Trehaus twice a week is my routine and “alone time” with Eric. It’s our experience together. With my older two girls who are already going to school, our “alone time” is a little different. I go with one of them to her Gymnastic class and we have our “alone time” on the way there and back. For my middle child, I take her out for lunch one afternoon in the week when she finishes school early.
How has it been for you and Eric so far?
I started to bring Eric to Trehaus when he was around 8 months. He struggled at the beginning when I left him to play at the Atelier. He did not like to be separated from me at that time. This was a new experience for me. Both my girls had little to no separation anxiety. However, I related that to the fact that I was working at that time and they were used to see me leaving.
Due to Eric’s initial challenge of not wanting to be away from me at all, I found myself spending more time with Eric in the Atelier, sometimes with laptop. But it got better and better as the weeks went by, and now he feels very comfortable on his own and playing with other children in the Atelier.
Has bringing your child to work affected your productivity / efficiency at work?
My productivity and efficiency were definitely down at the beginning when Eric cried a lot and I had to spend most of the time with him at the Atelier. But now, it’s looking very different: Eric is extremely comfortable, and I am back to my productivity and efficiency level. In fact, it is higher than when I work from home as I have no other distraction!
Do you see any changes in Eric over the past months, in terms of his growth and development? Has being in the Atelier helped Eric in any way?
I can’t name something specifically, as Eric has two older sisters and our house is always full of kids from our neighbourhood. He is used to playing with kids. However, being at Trehaus gives Eric the opportunity to play with kids his age and that is great for his socialization and building his confidence.
Has being in this space as a coworker done anything for your business?
I can’t point out a direct impact to my business, but I saw the benefits of being in a coworking space in terms of networking. I recently needed to find someone who can help with some changes to my website. I started asking and searching around and then it occurred to me, and I suddenly realized, why not ask my “colleagues” working around me?
So, I do see the potential of supporting each other due to Trehaus’ family-friendly and supportive ecosystem and environment.
What would you say to moms like you who would like to bring their child to work?
Be patient, it might take a little while for our little ones to adjust to the new environment, and depending on the age and personality that may even take a couple of months. But after that, it is wonderful to go to work with your child and knowing that one is not compromising between work and parenting. I really wished I had this opportunity with my older two children.
Claudia is the founder of Corporate and Style, and head honcho for the business. An expert in strategic sourcing, a six sigma green belt and a fashion enthusiast herself, Claudia’s wealth of experience helps her helm Corporate & Style – a company that provides a range of services from conceptualisation to design of corporate wear – and helps other businesses transform the appearance of their brand.