“I took 6,000 sq.ft.,” he says. “And chopped it up in 15 work spaces. But at the time I didn't have enough money to put the walls up.” Woolridge had spent all of his savings on the lease, and renovations, building new bathrooms, repairing the windows, and he put up the studs for where the studio walls would go, but had to stop construction there. He had run out of money.
“So I just started marketing the studio spaces,” he explains. “And luckily, I was able to pre-lease all the spaces.” With the new members’ first, last, and security payments, Woolridge was able to hire a few men and finish the construction. “Now 13 years later, the same guys are still working for me.”
Three years after opening studios at the Roebling Tea Building, Woolridge opened another location at 44 Stewart in East Williamsburg. Using the same bootstrapping process, he leased 16,000 sq.ft.
“I used a little bit of money to get into the deal,” Woolridge says. “Then renovated the space, the restrooms, enough to show people. But this time, since the floor plate was bigger, we just put down the tracks for the walls. We didn’t even have enough money for studs."
"But then we pre-leased 75% of the space and finished the work. Ya know, we’d rent a few studios, then buy some sheetrock. Rent a few more studios, buy a few doors. It just worked out!”