The Vision Behind SPACESMaui
Co-founders and visionaries behind Upcountry Maui's new CoWorking office space, Julius and Jazmyne Geis, have woven their two unique backgrounds and perspectives into the blueprint of SPACESMaui . "What is so special about SPACESMaui," Julius says, "Is that it is a holistic approach to success. It's not just a workspace to sit at, it's a place for your whole being to thrive." In our recent interview with Julius and Jazmyne, we got an in depth look at the "how" and "why" behind their pursuits to share this much needed addition with the Maui business community. From the coffee beans chosen to the personalized welcome cards each new member receives when they sit down at their desk, it is clear that these two put their love for aesthetics, hospitality, design and high quality standards into into every facet of their space.
Interviewer: Why do you think Maui would benefit from a CoWorking space such as SPACESMaui?
Julius: From my perspective, there just isn't much here on Maui that represents CoWorking in that aspect. There are other intentions here and that is fine. But what I always missed on Maui was a professional setup that would make Maui thrive other than tourism or agriculture. So if I have an idea that is connected with fashion, marketing, retail, whatever you want to do, especially things that interest younger generations, there is so little. I have always felt passionate about sharing my experiences as a business professional. I think that it is important to create something on Maui where people can participate and find a future outside of the dependency of tourism, hospitality, service and county jobs or agricultural work that has defined Hawaii's economy . That is my vision behind this place and that is why I really believe Maui needs a place like SPACESMaui.
Jazmyne: Yes, and to go off of that, it felt like the right time to do it because I think there is an emergence of creativity and community that is coming together within younger realms - like Maui Makers and various entrepreneurial meet-ups, workshops and gatherings taking place. The ideas are emerging already like the CoWorking space in Kīhei and Hāʻiku and it felt like it was the right time to devote energy into this movement for Maui. There are a lot of young people that are making choices to be able to work and live wherever they want to. Many are coming home or are brand new to the island. These folks have talent and skills but maybe don't have a space quite yet to start their work, so we wanted to be that space for them where they could share their talents and start to integrate with the community here.
Julius: Yes and most jobs on Maui are in the tourism industry. The programs that are created are not attracting or addressing young people's values, and interests so the question is where can you go on Maui? For the most part, you have to go to the mainland if you want to work in tech or e-commerce. And yes we are just a space, but at least we are a place you can go and meet others, exchange ideas, network and come to a point then where hopefully you feel brave enough to do your own thing. Hopefully Maui creates more independent industries to create a whole new world for younger people.
Interviewer: What do you think sets SPACESMaui apart from other CoWorking spaces?
Jaz: One thing that is very strong at SPACESMaui is the hospitality and attention to the space. We are having a combination of local and international perspectives. SPACESMaui is about feeling comfortable, working with others, being in touch with the community, networking, and collaborating with others. We cater to everyones' needs and treat them as individual people that have their own skills and talents. We have spaces for them that are conducive for working, relaxing, and nurturing all aspects of themselves. Our attention to detail and interest in getting to know everyone that comes through our space is really what sets SPACESMaui apart.
Ju: What is special is the space's holistic approach. The senses we use in the essential oil diffuser, the light we use, the way we furnish and decorate, the colors we chose... it is all very intentional. The way we email and talk with everyone. We pay attention to the details.
Interviewer: I can definitely see how your attention to detail plays a big role in every aspect of the company. So we really can't discuss "attention to details" without mentioning your love and appreciation for coffee, Julius, and how that has become an important part of SPACESMaui!
Ju: Yes, I have always been a barista fan. When I wrote my first business plan years ago, we ended up with a list of cost and expenses and realized we had to cut costs. There was a coffee machine but we could not cross that off! We had no desks and chairs at the time, but we had to have that coffee machine! I love that whatever I consume it has to be good. We bought a machine from a Swiss company that does all kinds of espresso shots. I tested many different beans to find one that produces really great tasting coffee. The coffee experience at SPACESMaui has a European influence. It is definitely introducing my culture to the space.
Where did you get the idea of opening up a CoWorking space here on Maui?
Ju: It actually all goes back to 2014. I am from a city that is known for film and media and also used to be a residence of the duke of Württemberg. They renovated an area of the castle and turned it into a rentable office space to be a collaborative space. There was a lot of exchanges between companies supported by the government with the idea that young companies and entrepreneurs could really grow in that environment. I saw how beneficial collaboration could be in an entrepreneural world.
In 2010 I opened On Any Given Monday. I was a part of a CoWorking space then. I travelled a lot and worked remote at many different CoWorking spaces. I was always a part of CoWorking environments. So, to me, it was very natural to open a CoWorking space here on Maui.
Jaz: When I first met Julius during his stay on Maui, he told me that he had a hard time finding places to work here on island that were conducive for actually getting work done. It was always on the back of his mind. Once we saw my dad's old and barely used office space and started to work out of here ourselves, was when we really saw the potential for these empty desks to help others like us just starting out. I felt responsible to take care of this space as it belongs to my family now. It felt neglected, so our initial step was to make it livable and workable for us. Then we got addicted to cleaning it up and making it nicer. We switched from the original poor wifi to high speed internet. We realized how much space was being used for storage and realized that others could make use of what we had developed here.
Ju: Yes, we saw all of the potential, so we were motivated.
Jaz: And after meeting others around our age with the entrepreneurial spirit, and witnessing creatives popping into contact with us with interest in our CoWorking space, we felt we were on the right frequency so to say. We would always see these young freelancers in passing, in coffee shops and wifi seating areas like Down To Earth, working on their latest piece of writing or even editing a film with headphones on! We wanted to bring these people together because we know firsthand about café work days and also the isolation of this time of working style.
What made you two decide to leave Europe and move back to Maui?
Jaz: It was 2016 and we had already talked about moving back. I was on a residency and we both had seperately come to the conclusion that we wanted to move. For me, for the next chapter, I felt the things I wanted to do and accomplish in my life had a lot to do with the community on Maui, and moving my passion and artwork here because a lot of the themes I use come from the islands. It felt natural to get in touch and have this as an access point to nurture our personal life and business. I want to help the creative movement here on Maui thrive and grow - from farmers, supporting local, sustainability awareness, and contemporizing cultural identity through the arts. I wanted to bring the talents I've acquired abroad back to the place of my birth.
Ju: Maui was always a place I felt at home in, and it was always somewhere I could imagine myself being, but the decision was very much driven by Jazmyne's desire. I never saw myself living my future in Germany. I always was comfortable on Maui, so to me it was something I could imagine, and it ended up being the right decision with everything unfolding easily in terms of our personal life. Looking back though, it was quite difficult moving all the businesses I owned to a different country. You really start from scratch, so that was the biggest challenge for me.
The Plantation House you two turned into an office space is so quaint and in such a perfect location Upcountry, how did you find it and see its office potential?
Jaz: We chose this location and space based on our connections and the choice to live in this part of the island where I have family. My dad had his real estate company's Upcountry office here, but the building was only partially being used as his company expanded to other office spaces, leaving this one quite empty. So when we came home to Maui, this office provided a lot of open space. After we renovated it, the office returned to The Plantation House that I've always felt "home" in, but with an updated look that naturally bridged Hawaii's past with the future-- a direct reflection of Julius and I.
We asked permission from my dad to move our ideas with the building further, and to explore the possibilities we had in mind for the space by going through some trial runs with the tools we had during our soft opening last year. It was a win-win opportunity to update and care for the space, with renovation and actually using the space daily, and it supported us by allowing the creation of our ideas to manifest in a space in which we don't have to dig out rent to a landowner immediately from our pockets. We all worked together as a team to get it to where it is today. It really took baby steps and patience to get it to where it is now.
Ju: Yeah it did. We are grateful for our first visitors as they added new and insightful feedback and compliments that helped to better our system and way of accommodating guests in the shared space. We therefore encourage all visitors to share ideas and ways of doing things that they feel could best accommodate their needs. We are here to support and listen. That is where our vision of hospitality comes in.
From the black and white photograph hanging in the entrance of SPACESMaui, you can tell that The Plantation House has some beautiful and historical roots. What do you know about the house and its history?
Jaz: The Plantation House has the same structure as when it was built in the early 1900s, aside from the lanai (porch) entrance we have today . The photo we have in the front of the office space was taken in its last impression before the change over to a business, back when it was a residential building in the late 1950s. I interviewed one of the children that grew up in the house. The whole land area has history and was attached to the Fernandez Family -the family had a lot of the surrounding land. A lot of the property structure is still the same- the mango tree, the plumeria tree, and the hedges are all 50+ years old! When it became a business office, a few things were added, like the side lanai (our entrance), as well as the attached house on the backside of the house that is currently being rented by an architect.
When you interviewed one of the children that grew up in the house, did he explain which rooms were used for what purpose?
Yes, he did. Jimmy even said that the photograph we have looks exactly like the images in his memory. Amazing! The small meeting room used to be his uncle's room, which is why we refer to the meeting room as Uncle Louis'room. The front entrance area was the parlor. The large meeting room used to be their living room and the back library lounge area used to be their dining room where they made an extra long farm table so the large family could all sit together. The Jump Seats used to be the lanai where the father would sit out with the dog. The private office with the Haleakalā view used to be the kids' room where all twelve kids slept most of their childhood. The room was a little bigger than it is today, but still that's a lot of kids sharing only two double beds!
They were farmers. They worked hard on the land and couldn't afford too much. It was very family oriented. The grandma's house was actually where Pukalani Superette is... and Maui Pine, where the father Louis worked, was across the street where the fire station is.
Ju: It was really nice because when we were finally done with all the renovations and had the blessing of the house, Jimmy's cousin Issac, who used to hang out here at Uncle Louis' house, happened to have been driving by in that serendipitous moment and introduced us to this wonderful history. Recognizing the past while also introducing this new space to the future is something that is really important and special to us.
That is so amazing that this person who is connected with this family house just happened to be driving by as you two were holding the blessing ceremony at SPACESMaui.
Jaz: It was perfect timing. Jimmy was running late and saw us blessing the space. He pulled over on his motorcycle and asked what was going on. He said the picture we have is exactly the same image he has in his memory of how it looked like. It was on my mind to connect with the past family of this space, and it literally fell into our laps! I felt it was necessary to connect with this past as we are now the new caretakers of the space. It was so special.
So this particular space is known as The Plantation House, and for obvious reasons, but what about the name SPACESMaui- how did you two come up with that?
Ju: The name goes back quite a while. I first always dreamt of a multifaceted brand in different industries brought together by a wider mission statement. "Space" became a word we used in our consulting business On Any Given Monday, meaning something physical but also referring to a place and space of being that is
What a fun and meaning-packed logo, can you tell me how you came up with that?
Ju: We wanted to use the same font as our umbrella company -one that is timeless, modern, and fun. The beautiful part, I think, is the pineapple that includes a planet in the center of it that symbolizes "space" in a completely different meaning.
Jaz: The pineapple has a past that is related to Hawai'i. Its image is representative of