Tucked away in a forgotten corner of Brisbane lies Little Tokyo Two - an unassuming facade of what was formerly a venerable Japanese restaurant, thoughtfully transformed by entrepreneur Jock Fairweather.
The vision was to deliver a hub for young creatives and entrepreneurs different to anything that has come before it.
Membership based, completely flexible and totally urban – Little Tokyo Two encompasses workspace, breakout space, theatre, office, café and restaurant in one cohesive package.
The Brisbane based shoe designer came up with the idea after his mother returned from a business trip in London, spent in a shared workspace seminar room.
After studying what these workspaces were all about, and the benefits of using them, Fairweather came up with his development at 36 Mein Street, Spring Hill.
My mother came back from a conference her company had in London in a shared workspace seminar room – and loved it. She gave me a brochure and I started looking into what shared workspaces were about. I have been involved in members clubs in London such as Soho and Shoreditch house and have many friends that were in the same boat as me – driving to 6 different places for meetings each day. I saw a gap between members clubs and workspaces – and decided that a members club that acted primarily as a workspace but provided a social upside was missing.
Where did you come up with the idea?
In a rain forest.
Who designed Little Tokyo Two?
I have, from start to finish – with the help of some interior designers as sounding boards.
Describe the design process to get to where you are now?
I wanted to keep a lot of the original framework and decoration from Little Tokyo. It was such a weird, old-school Japanese fit out and I thought it would be a shame to lose the character and quirkiness. So I basically took certain parts of the building back to brick and down to concrete and added some more modern tones. It ended up being an easy design process. I did however go through 24 architectural plans to get the separation of membership tiers and public just right.
What gap in the market does Little Tokyo Two respond to?
I think that most co-working spaces lack the hospitality side. I also see that most workspaces basically give you a space and let you do your thing – rather than actively help you. I also think that fitting out a leased office space doesn’t really have an entrepreneurial or creative vibe. I also find it hard to believe that the ‘gate keeper’ of workspaces don’t live and breath the culture.
We have a huge variety of people that have become part of our club. The differences in profession/ industry are vast – but the one consistent attribute is personality. Currently we have members from ages 20-32. We want members to come in with startups and small-medium businesses – use our network, promotions and resources to expand, then outgrow us and move onto big things. We want CEO’s and business people to come to our venue to poach their next best employee.
What additional services are you offering your users?
In 140 characters? Mentoring program, weekly members only events, in-house and external business promotion, numerous discounts and collaborations, active networking, receptionist, admin etc. You pay the membership, choose you add-ons and we do everything else ‘on the house’.
What is the commercial model behind the venture?
Reach max capacity. Keep members happy. Create waiting list.
How does the membership model work?
The membership model is four tiers and goes private office, private custom cabinet, monthly member and an in-house professional.
What is the extent of the fit out?
Everything we are using is brand new – or refurbished from Little Tokyo. All our sound and AV, security and apps are modern and hi-tech.
What is the likely capital expenditure?
I would rather not comment. Lets just say for a first time and based on the quotes and estimates I got from many sources – we have done extremely well.
How are you funding the project?
My previous and current business, luxury women’s shoe brand, Family loan and Active Investor.