By Drew Puig, Community Manager at Bond Gowanus
Ever passed an office in your shared workspace and wondered, “what do they do?...” At Bond Collective, our members do amazing work across many industries leading to a wide variety of different set ups and usage of office space. We give companies the freedom to lay out and decorate their private offices in the way that helps them function best. That’s why we have developed a new blog series - What’s In My Office? In this series, you’ll learn more about our amazing members, their businesses, and how they set themselves up for success within their very own office!
Confidant, a member at Bond Gowanus
Our first post introduces Confidant, an integrated marketing and communications agency, helps brands like Amazon, Sony, BarkBox, ReachNow, Musicbed and others tell their stories through marketing and PR with a team of experienced big agency defectors.
The company began its footprint at Bond Gowanus with a single dedicated desk membership. As Confidant’s business has grown, so has its presence at Bond Gowanus, culminating recently in a new custom office built out specifically for Confidant by Bond Collective. With new space comes the question, what’s in your office? Confidant Co-founder Garland Harwood gives us the scoop.
Tell us a little about Confidant and what you do.
Confidant is a marketing and PR firm for tech-centric brands. Our team works with companies of all sizes to be an extension of their PR and marketing teams. Unlike big agencies with large teams of mostly junior people, we have smaller, more dedicated teams of experienced people who can give trusted counsel and execute strategic campaigns. We’re intentionally growing slowly and adding a few new Confidants each year - each seasoned professionals from large agencies that are used to working with large brands. We have two offices, one here at Bond Gowanus and another in Nashville. Our PR team is based in Gowanus and works with Amazon, BarkBox, ReachNow, which is the mobility division of BMW Group, and Castle & Key, a new distillery on Kentucky’s bourbon trail.
What was founding your business like? What obstacles did you face?
After about 13 years working with big tech brands at large PR agencies, I was ready for a change. So was my co-founder, Ken Byers, who comes from a brand strategy and advertising background. It helped that it was a good time in my personal life to take a risk, so I went for it. Ken and I polled all kinds of friends and colleagues about their biggest frustrations with agencies and found that having a more dedicated and experienced team seemed to resonate with both clients and employees. I slowly exited the firm I was working for on great terms once I had lined up a few runway projects. I was prepared for much worse, but it was a pretty painless transition.
Initially I was by myself a lot as Ken would be building our creative team in Nashville. Being in a shared workspace was a great way to make me feel a part of something while I grew this business. It also got me out of my apartment, which was really important as it can be hard to stay productive when working from home.
What led you to Bond Collective?
The focus on design and the premium nature of the space drew me here. Being around interesting companies and people who aren’t just looking for a deal makes this space feel different. Its energizing here. Also, I knew that if I was going to work with large brands and recruit great talent, an impressive space would be critical.
Joining a young, small firm from a big agency is a scary thing. When I bring candidates into our office and they see the space, the amenities, the cool people, and dogs, it feels different than it would if we had our own tiny stand alone office. It just helps us feel established and professional.
What inspired you to decorate your office this way?
Being in control of the decorative choices for our office was really important to me. I wanted to create a space that starkly contrasted the views of industrial Gowanus outside my office windows. So, I mixed mid-century modern furniture and loads of plants to offset the view.
How did you make it functional and comfortable?
We leased a bit more space so we could create a comfortable sitting area for brainstorms and client calls within our own private suite. We have a sleek mid-century couch and brown leather office chairs around a shiny marble table that really stands out against the brick walls. I also integrated a few art pieces to make it feel homey.
Why does space at Bond Collective work for you?
When I first started with Bond Collective, I was at a dedicated desk. I then went to a two-person interior private office, which was a great step up for the budget risks I was willing to take at the time. When our business continued to grow and I was hiring again, we moved into a three-person office with a window. I knew I wanted to continue building our footprint here with our future expansion in mind and so we could grow our team, which led to conversations with the Bond Collective staff. Eventually a wall was taken down between my three-person office and another unit to expand to our current size. Throughout each of these moves, it was great that I could book conference rooms in Gowanus or another Bond Collective space in Manhattan, which gave us more options to enjoy and somewhere bigger to go with clients.
We know you have grown your team during your time at Bond Gowanus, can you touch on your team dynamic and what you look for in an employee?
We are currently hiring and looking for trusted counselors (a.k.a. confidants) who can come in and run campaigns. We’re not hiring any entry level folks as we try to create a different experience for clients. We have a very high bar for talent.
Can explain the community environment at Bond Gowanus? Is participation in the community something you are involved with/find value in?
Bond Collective has put together some fun events to keep things interesting. We have great friends here. Our dogs play with their dogs. We eat lunch together. Overall, there’s a great feel to the environment.
There are some shared work environments that are notorious for inefficient “entrepreneurs” who mostly want to chat it up. Our team bills by the hour and we’re super busy. I was worried that making friends could mean that we’d have people continually bothering us in a way that would keep us from getting work done, but it’s not like that here. We’re inspired by the folks around us.