CHENNAI : On one fateful day in March last year, Thejaswi Suresh Bala and his wife, Sirisha Madhavan, heard some strange sounds from their tyre when driving in T Nagar. They pulled over beside a large, stately building to investigate, and noticed a To Let sign hanging on the gate. Once the caretaker let them inside and they inspected the two-storey building, the couple rented out the space and called it The Woco Mayflower, after the 70-year-old tree in the backyard.
However, this was the first piece of history this building held. With the previous home of Bhanumathi Ramakrishna, a South Indian actress, producer and director, now in their hands, the two 27-year-olds decided to pay their homage to her and open a co-working space and café. Keeping this in mind, Sirisha decided to maintain all the old architecture and design the space with a boho theme in mind to tap into the language and essence of the space.
“This is a beautiful bungalow with so much history. Most co-working spaces are corporate, and we wanted to create a creative environment. We would be really proud if an artist came up with a really wonderful art work in this space,” she said. The false ceilings and window panes were therefore left untouched.
As a co-working space, The Mayflower can host around 40 people at a time. With a rate of `699 before tax per day, people can use the co-working space with two drinks and an appetiser at their service. “Work culture is evolving. You cannot be rigid with your work environment if you want the creme of the crop, and that is why there is a movement to co-working spaces,” said Thejaswi.
Served in utensils sourced from local artisans from Auroville placed on beautifully polished second-hand tables and chairs from Goa and Puduche r ry, the menu at the café is vast yet fulfilling. The Don-Peppepolo Chicken, which remains moist despite being fried, leaves a light heat on the tongue and their pizzas offer delicious toppings on a crisp, thin crust. The couple had little experience in running a co-working space, and the positives of running such a space means that they can build a community. “However, the beautiful thing is that the community helped us out by offering suggestions on where we can improve.
We now have personal relationships with the people using our space, even though you could consider us as ‘just the owners’,” said Thejaswi. To honour a home where the actress had a very happy life, Thejaswi and Sirisha hope to open 25 similar boutique coworking spaces in the city, and help build a community where working individuals can network and grow from.