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In September 2014, we moved into our new Creative Sanctuary at 1147 Marsh Street in San Luis Obispo, CA from a 200 square foot shared office space inside of a warehouse on the opposite side of town. Mid-2014 was a time of transition and growth for Makers and Allies and in such a small space, we all got to know each other VERY quickly. Our space was hacked together from found materials (Kayla’s desk was a board on top of an old sewing machine stand), we had client meetings in the middle of the room, and everyone had to “scootch” for Rachael to be able to get out from behind her desk and walk to the kitchen in the back of the building. It was great for team bonding, but it was time for a bigger space.

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We searched long and hard for just the right building to call our new home and when the Sanctuary came available, we jumped at the opportunity. However, it was far from a sanctuary when we started the renovation process. The old Ross building on Marsh Street had been in a state of sad neglect for years and years: the carpet was moldy, walls were original from the 1970s, and the space was broken up into a series of tiny offices leaving little natural light. We worked closely with the new owners to provide creative direction for the building and to redesign our studio to suit our needs perfectly. In the end, we wound up with the creative space that designer dreams are made of: hardwood floors, reclaimed wood walls made from wine flavor sticks, metal accents, and green plants galore.

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Inside our studio, our open plan inspires team communication and creative brainstorming, allowing us to chime in during project feedback sessions and gain access to information inside one another’s brains that we might not have otherwise. We designed custom shelving in our conference room to showcase our ever-expanding body of work and had our conference table crafted from a vintage Lockheed Martin drafting table. We spin vintage vinyl on Fridays to gain access to a different musical perspective. From The Violent Femmes to The Beatles, repurposed furniture to reclaimed wood, our office tells not only our own story, but stories from the past, which influence our present, and inspire future ideas.

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While we are only two blocks from Downtown San Luis Obispo, our Sanctuary feels like it’s tucked away in it’s own special corner of the city. Unassuming from the front, our building backs up to the San Luis creek and we are surrounded by lush greenery. The center courtyard features a giant willow tree that not only provides us with shade and a beautiful backdrop, but is home to native birds and squirrels. We often move our meetings and project brainstorming sessions down to the picnic table over the creek for a change of scenery and the opportunity to be inspired by the lush and vibrant plant life and the sounds of nature around us.

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It’s a pleasure to be part of the community in San Luis Obispo and yet feel like we are tucked away in our own special space. We invite you to stop by anytime to say hi. There’s always sunshine in the sky and wine in our fridge. Cheers.

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