Young women with power-tools

Laura Smith cutting scaffolding to make work tables
The BizDojo Team: Laura, Nick, Elise, Phil, and Jonah (and the Panda twins)
Co.Create Week: Fashion (18th-24th July)
Dressmaker's models and industrial sewing set-up at the BizDojo Makerspace
Elise Sterback sanding down the bar area
Young women with power-tools: Creating a space for making in Auckland


Young women with power-tools: Creating a space for making in Auckland

The story behind co-working space The BizDojo has, until recently, been one of male-led innovation and entrepreneurialism. Co-founders Jonah Merchant and Nick Shewring (recently joined by partner Phil Williams), have spearheaded New Zealand’s growing movement of shared offices with their spaces in Auckland and Wellington.

This July saw The BizDojo expand its offering to include a new Auckland venue called the BizDojo Makerspace - a co-working studio environment for analogue creatives. With this expansion came a surge of feminine influence to the BizDojo team in the form of Project Manager and Art Director Laura Smith, and Events and Branding Manager, Elise Sterback.

These women, both in their mid-twenties, have combined their power-tool skills and marketing savvy to build both the physical infrastructure and identity for an exciting new venue concept. The space contains large working tables, industrial sewing machines, an infinity photography wall, as well as a gallery and public cafe. Creatives can have full use of the space and its equipment for a minimum monthly rate of $120 (for 20 hours).

Virtually everything you can lay your eyes on in the space, bar the designer metal stools and the technical equipment, was designed and built by Laura herself. With a degree in fine arts and sculpture, and experience in film set design, Laura had the perfect training for this unique project.

She had always dreamed of creating a complete environment that had a practical purpose to creative peers and a permanent life beyond a film shoot. The design of the Makerspace, with most of the furniture attached to castor wheels, reflects Laura’s intention to create a modular, multi-functional space. The aesthetic is strongly industrial, with raw wood pellets used in a range of different structures and scaffolding and ply forming the tables and cafe counters.

Elise became involved nearer to the Makerspace’s completion, having previously managed the brand and culture elements of the other BizDojo spaces. Her experience in programming creative conferences (Survive & Thrive and Creative Mornings) as well as designing interactive art happenings (seen at Splore 2012) has produced an interesting calendar of activities already lined up to be held in the space.

One such event that the Co-managers have planned, occurring monthly, is a mentored working week called Co.Create Week. Experts and suppliers from a chosen industry are invited into the space to provide advice and connections for those who have bought a ticket to work in the space that week.

The first Co.Create Week has a fashion industry focus and features well-known designers such as Emily Miller-Sharma (Liam), Jimmy D (Children of Vision), and industry stalwarts like Fashion PR Consultant Paul Blomfield.

To keep up on the Co.Create Weeks and other events visit the BizDojo Makerspace Facebook page (, or for more info contact Elise (

Contact details:

Written by

The BizDojo

18 Jul 2012