A day in the life of the L’Atelier Coworking boss shows there's more to her than meets the eye
When Sabrina Chammas Doumet was one, her parents took a look around their war-torn hometown of Beirut and made sure she could inherit their Canadian citizenship. The move came in handy after Doumet decided to go to school in the U.S. She secured a student visa to study film production in L.A. but couldn’t parlay it into permanent residency. Although Doumet moved to Hollywood North with dreams of helming films, her stateside experience working as a freelancer in shared spaces inspired her to open L’Atelier Coworking two years ago. Besides running the business in Vancouver’s Gastown, she still moonlights as a videographer and has launched her own line of journals.
9 a.m. Doumet is hardly ever the first person to arrive at L’Atelier—many clients have their own keys, and the office is open 24 hours—but once she gets in, she checks that the fridge is clean and stocked. To “keep things interesting,” she’s decided to provide snacks every Monday. On this September morning, the choice is sliced apples and peanut butter.
10:30 a.m. L’Atelier has two sections: permanent desks and storage space for members who pay a $450 monthly fee, and so-called hot desks for those who want to drop in. When we catch up with Doumet, she has three permanent spots up for grabs and is fielding tours for those interested. “When I opened, I had to try and get people to visit and justify why someone needs a co-working space when they could just work from home,” she says of the 50-desk operation. “I don’t do any advertising any more. People find it through Google and book a tour.”
Such popularity comes with caveats–Doumet has already fielded a call today from a friend about a new competitor’s rents. “I think Gastown has the most concentration of co-working spots in the city,” she says.
Lunch Although Doumet encourages clients to use L’Atelier’s fridge for all their food preparation needs, sometimes she succumbs to the temptations the city offers. She dials up Uber Eats to deliver a treat from Lebanese bakery Manoush’eh in Yaletown. Doumet’s review: “It’s delicious and reminds me of being home.”
Courtesy of L'Atelier Coworking
2 p.m. L’Atelier’s inhabitants often work alongside each other, literally and figuratively. That’s the case today: Kate Bouchard, founder of Vancouver-based marketing agency Armature Collective, occupies a hot desk before meeting with Doumet in one of three conference rooms. Doumet does freelance video work for Armature, and they discuss how best to produce a marketing campaign for a health-care client.
4:30 p.m. Because running the space and doing freelance work apparently wasn’t enough, last year Doumet created her own product, the Focus Journal, a task notebook designed to make its users more productive. She workshopped the journal with L’Atelier’s clients before taking it to Kickstarter, where it raised $20,000 in a month. Doumet will end today by driving an order to a store across town. The notebooks can be found in various outlets around Vancouver, including Indigo. Each one contains a note from Doumet. “I put in thank-you cards that I designed myself,” she explains. “They say, ‘You are awesome.’” If the always-full L’Atelier offices are any sign, the feeling from her customers is mutual.