Live/workers Ashley Powell and Ben Anderson
Business *A/star Agency (www.astaragency.com)
Home base Uptown Lake Apartments, Minneapolis
Ashley Powell would love to use a crockpot. "But I can't," she said. That's because she doesn't want her modeling and music agency to smell like dinner. Her kitchen is covered by a curtain during the workday. "We try to hide that we live here," she said.
Powell and her boyfriend/business partner, Ben Anderson, moved into the 1,250-square-foot apartment in July and launched the business there a month later. "It makes sense, because we can combine all our bills," she said. "We save so much money by living where we hang out."
Most of the space is used for business. Their living room doubles as a meeting room and sometimes as craft services when a photo shoot is going on downstairs. "We're constantly working, and we love it like that," she said. "The business is our passion, and as a young business, if you want to be successful, that's what you have to do."
Security is a concern, living directly on Lake Street, she said. "We always keep the door locked, and we have a really good alarm system." Then there's the noise. "Yes, we get drunks banging on our windows -- and sometimes they're our friends," she said with a laugh.
But for now, it's the perfect setup. "I always dreamt of it [running her own agency]," said the former model. "Now it's literally surrounding me."
Phil and Amy Crissman
Loft condo at SOHO (Small Office, Home Office) in Minneapolis' North Loop
The Crissmans used to commute from their townhouse in Blaine to downtown Minneapolis. It took 30 to 45 minutes each way, longer if they took the bus. And Amy, who was freelancing from home part time while she finished school, wanted to live and work in the city. "I needed to be in a creative environment that was more active and alive," she said.
So they bought a live/work condo at SOHO. At first, just Amy worked at home full time, but then Phil landed a freelance contract and decided to leave his job and go out on his own. They share an office at the front of the loft. "We each have our own corner, and we do work together on a lot of projects," Phil said.
The Crissmans have different work habits. Phil dresses for the day before he sits down at his computer, to "get into the mind-set of working," he said. He keeps the TV and Xbox at the opposite end of the loft, to minimize distractions. "Working from home the entire day, it's easy to play video games," he said. "But you find out really quickly you can't do that. The biggest distraction is the Internet, and you can't turn that off. I force myself to learn time management." And once he's in the work zone, he tends to stay there. "I could work without stopping if I didn't actually stop myself," he said.
Not Amy. "It would be really hard for me to become a workaholic," she said. When she does work into the evening, she moves to the living room. "I need to get out of my office chair and feel like I'm home," she said. She sometimes works in her pajamas or workout clothes, and is more likely to multi-task, jumping between work and Facebook, or watching a movie while running tax software. When Phil's working off-site at a client's, she'll sometimes grab her laptop and head to a coffee shop. "I'm a very social person," she said. She loves being part of the city just as much as she thought she would. "I feel like I'm living this life I dreamed of. I pray every day it doesn't end."
Hair by Morgan (www.hairbymorgan.net)
Uptown Lake Apartments, Minneapolis
For Morgan O'Sullivan, the live/work life is a little "like living in a treehouse," she said. Downstairs in her salon is where she works, doing hair and makeup, adding extensions (her specialty) and selling purses, jewelry and other accessories out of a boutique that she hopes to expand. Upstairs, at the top of a spiral staircase, are her bedroom and bathroom.
O'Sullivan decided to consolidate her home and her business about a year ago, as a way to save money while going back to school so that she can teach cosmetology. "That was the idea, to cut expenses in half," she said. "You save a little money, but it's a bigger space than I had before, which is more expensive." Then there's the additional expense of having an elaborate security system, a necessity of living on Lake Street.
A New York native, she was familiar with live/work living long before she chose it. "It's big on the East Coast," she said. "I think the concept's good," although her unit could use some fine-tuning, such as separate entrances for the salon and the apartment. She also wishes she had more lighting for the retail part of her operation.
"But in general, I like it," she said. "The best is when it's 20-below; it's nice to not have to drive anywhere."
The worst: "You're always at work," she said. "You have to make yourself leave." Or make yourself relax. "Even at 11 at night, you're thinking, 'I could wash towels or place merchandise,'" she said.