Why You Need A Community In Order To Get Shit Done
As of late the phrase "stronger together" has been resonating with people far and wide. Many people have come to realize the benefits of cultivating their tribe and leaning into their support system to see success. While some of us are new to this concept, Christina Topacio has been dreaming, thinking and baking up an idea that is rooted in the idea of community. The result: Jig+Saw. Located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, Jig+Saw is a co-working and event space that houses creative women "who hustle" from all over the country who want one thing: to get sh*t done. That's not just the company tagline, it's the spirit that moves everyone who passes through the front door.
Name: Christina Topacio
Current City: Los Angeles
Hometown: Vallejo, CA (home of e-40, hello)
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF:
Honestly, I’m a woman who, on a daily basis, is getting her sh*t together. Not great at it, but it opens doors for creativity. I’m expressive and passionate, I come from a divorced family with five siblings. I’m the lucky test baby as I’m the oldest and the most punished for less than royal f*ck-ups. I’m a Bay Area girl, always will be and thankfully, so is my partner. #BerkeleyBabiesMakeEducatedBabies
WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO PURSUE JIG+SAW?
I didn’t ever really decide - it just sort of, chose. I loved working with women, seeing how passionate they are, hardworking and dedicated each was, even as a teenager. I worked in a co-work space when I lived in NYC for a tech start-up which became the train of “how do I make this real for women specifically, in a way that’s organic to their workflow and 100% collaborative?”. That idea lasted 4 years until 18 months ago, when I actively started making sh*t happen with JIG+SAW.
HOW DID YOU GO FROM IDEA TO EXECUTION?
Like I was saying before, I sat on the idea forever because I was 23 at the time, and had no idea how to press go other than to watch and learn from the start-ups I was working for. Until 18 months, when I decided to DIY my “press go” button and actually make it all happen. I made a business plan and model. Google is a great friend of mine. Pitched in three, separate investor meetings. No takers - was told my idea was too emotional, that women didn’t need a space like this. Funny enough, since that particular meeting, four more female owned and operated co-working spaces have opened. Crazy how that works right? After failing in my investor meetings, I took matters into my own hands. Learned some law, some financial, some PR and hosted our first workshop event. Was a blast! Found a crew that worked hard and made everything seem right. Now, that JIG+SAW is officially opening its doors, I can’t believe that there once was a day, where I sat in a Soho co-work space, at a wood desk, wondering how this would all actually be done.
DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR?
Mentorship is hard. There’s a pressure that it has to be an experienced, vetted human which in all honesty, how often am I coming across women who’ve cultivated an all-women’s audience to build co-working spaces? So. Who I look up to are the women in my personal life that guide, support and advise me on all actions pertaining to me, as a being, as a whole. Women like Jessica Gehring, Dina Yeskel, Dannielle Owens-Reid, Karla Deras, my parents.
I surrounded myself with women who knew the basics of running a business and were vulnerable and open on how they got there. I think that was so important in finding a “mentor” is knowing for certain, they are willing to be open and honest with you about their journey and in turn, be open and honest about how yours is turning out to be. The last thing I want is to ask for feedback and to receive, “that’s great! Keep it up!”. I want someone engaged and interested in my journey. It pays off to have that kind of attention.
HOW DOES LIVING IN LOS ANGELES INFLUENCE YOUR CREATIVITY??
The city I’ve from inspires my creativity. Humans in the bay area are always creating, innovating, without worrying (at least from my vantage point) about what others truly think. They move and dance to what inspires them, and I find that breathtaking. I want that energy to surround me daily; fighting for my truth, for my existence. It’s what we all really want, validity.
HAS REJECTION EVER AFFECTED YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
Rejection plays a role but I’m tough. I allow the rage I feel from rejection fester into a reset and press go moment. I’m inspired by what comes out of what people don’t like. It makes me feel like I’ve got to find a way to make you understand what I’m creating, whether you use it or not. Call it wrong or right, doesn’t matter. It’s what pushes me to think creatively and impactfully.
TOP 3 LESSONS FROM BUILDING YOUR BUSINESS:
Remember that there is a reason for this all, whatever YOUR THIS is. Even if your idea crashes and burns, it could mean it was preparing you to take on an even bigger idea, opportunity or purpose.
Understand everyday is a learning opportunity. I’ll never know it all and someone always knows more. That’s a good thing. Keep learning!
There is room for EVERYONE. It’s one thing to be an asshole and blatantly steal other’s ideas/work/opportunities but it’s another thing if we’re all here existing with similar purposes with different faces. I realized that when after I had my pitch meetings, 6 or so months later, four female-focused coworking spaces opened doors. It was okay we all existed. There’s a reason we found a niche, it’s because it’s needed and necessary. Let’s all do it together.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO WANTED TO PURSUE THE SAME CAREER AS YOU?
Remember your WHY. This will evolve, absolutely, but remember at your core, what purpose you serve. For me, it’s always knowing my passion lies in helping women find success. It may be in the current form, a creative co-working space or it could evolve into something completely different. For now, this is my interpretation. When you understand why you do something, it paves a clearer path for execution and comprehension. I would also say to trust your gut. Cliche, but so true. If you allow so many opinions and “Well, I did it this way”s, you’ll find yourself swaying with the wind. Don’t sway with the wind. You’ll wind up in a ditch.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE PIT AND PEAK OF YOUR WEEK SO FAR?
Peak has definitely been receiving kind and thoughtful emails/texts/dm’s of congratulations on JIG+SAW opening. It feels nice to know people give a sh*t. Pit is knowing I only have a few weeks left before doors open and I don’t have everything I need to get it done. It was an early clarity moment where, no matter what, I was opening even if 2 or 200 people showed up. Ideally, the latter.
IN YOUR WORDS, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A "CREATIVE"?
Anything that allows your mind to explore. It can be in the typical form of artistic expression or it could live in the veins of numbers and formulas. I find math whizzes so incredibly creative, to be able to navigate with ease around numbers and make something intangible, tangible again all by creatively conceptualizing whatever problem was given to them to resolve. So, very cool.
CHRISTINA'S TOP RESOURCES FOR CREATIVES:
Squarespace - the ease of building something that looks like you hired a legitimate designer for less is a hack for sure
Ilovecreatives - an awesome directory of localized creatives
Unsplash - for cooler looking stock photos and you can discover awesome photographers there too
Acorn - it’s an investing app. SO perfect for someone like me who wants to invest but has no idea where to start
FIlmborn - it’s a camera app that allows you to use the iphone like a DSLR, live. It’s so cool.
Sketches - I just love this app because I can write with my own handwriting on photos. Kind of the best thing ever.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON THAT WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT?
JIG+SAW is realizing that the idea of coworking is great in its traditional format. But, we decided to shake things up and create something that reflected our earlier existence last May. It's called Track, hope you join us.
FINISH THIS SENTENCE:
I want people to remember me as: Wise. Thoughtful. Engaging.
If I only had 24 more hours to live, I would: order Thai food, snuggle deep down in my covers with my partner and my pup and remember the feeling of being unconditionally loved.
If I had to choose a theme song to represent me it would be: Midnight City - M83. It was a song I chose when highlighting my life in New York City and it reminds me to stay grounded, stay humble and stay focused.