Upon your first visit to Big and Tiny, chances are you noticed Keltse Bilbao somewhere in the building. Like the beautiful design at each location, Keltse seems to be a permanent feature at Big and Tiny. Whether it’s sitting at a table typing away on her laptop, helping the staff, or checking in with one of the parents, Keltse is truly the definition of someone who lives and breathes her business.
As a serial entrepreneur, mom of two, and spouse of a famed musician, Keltse is the definition of a busy woman who (magically) is able to prioritize herself, family, and business all within a short 24-hour window.
As a serial mompreneur, I think everyone is curious to know how you juggle running two Big and Tiny locations, raising young daughters, and still manage to have time for yourself. How do you prioritize your day?
The truth is, at this stage of my life, the day doesn’t have enough hours. Because of that, I’m more productive than ever. I wake up early to be with my family and spend quality time together during breakfast. This is one of my favorite moments of the day with the chaos and the rushing, but this time precious to me. I also try to go to the gym 2-3 times a week. It’s 45 minutes for myself that I really enjoy and need. Afterward, I stop by the Santa Monica location almost every day to check up on the team and review the plan of the day. Luckily, I have an amazing team that has been with me since the beginning as well as some great new acquisitions that make things easier. As soon as I’m done, I drive to Silver Lake where I sit down with my daily planner and my laptop as the day whizzes by.
I feel that creating a to-do list with top priorities actually helps me organize my time better. I have to admit that some of the things on the bottom of the list never get to the top, but I manage to take care of the most important items. At 4 PM I run back home to spend time with my girls. Most of the time I’m exhausted, but I manage to muster enough energy to have fun with them before dinner and bed-time. There are days when I go back to work after putting the girls to bed, but I try to keep a portion of the evenings to spend time with my husband. A cup of wine after a long day always helps, but the truth is that date nights don’t happen as often as they used to!
There are two tricks that help me get through the day; the fact that I bring my girls to work so I can be with them while taking a break, and the fact that I have a music studio at the new location where my husband loves to work and compose.
Creating a play-work space is the main idea behind Big and Tiny, but creating a community of like-minded individuals really seems to be at the heart of what you are doing. How has creating this community affected you and the evolution of the space?
The play work space defines the service that we offer. It is an immediate solution to a need that parents have. I like to think we are much more than a co-working space with childcare. The truth is that parenthood is a wonderful thing but it can be very difficult, lonely and frustrating. Your life changes dramatically once you have kids and you have to rediscover yourself in that process. There is a real need to build a community of like-minded parents that share not only parenthood, but interests, conversations, business, and friendship. I believe this is an important part we can offer to the “BIG”, a place to grow in different aspects at a very busy time of our lives.
When we first started Big and Tiny, we wanted to satisfy the need for a place where parents could work while their “Tiny” children were playing and learning. After realizing the need was already there, we decided to follow our vision and focus on building a community of like-minded parents. With this in mind, we designed a space where adults could work, meet new friends, work out, play an instrument, or unwind; a place to come with your family and enjoy quality time and company.
Where are you currently finding inspiration in your life?
From simplicity. I’m going through a process where I’m enjoying the simple things and natural beauty. This is clearly reflected in the design and environment of both spaces, but especially the Silver Lake location. I love bringing back the “old ways”. I’ve heard clients commenting on the shortage of toys in the space. I believe it’s not about the quantity, but the quality of toys that stimulate creativity and imagination.
How do you define success personally and professionally?
I always have this conversation with my husband. I believe professional success is not just about money, but recognition and in most of the cases, contributing or leaving something of value behind. Personally, success to me is about love and the people you surround yourself with.
On days when you are feeling overwhelmed, what do you do to help yourself feel grounded?
Talk to my husband. We don’t talk a lot about business so It helps me disconnect and put my thoughts somewhere else.
What advice would you give someone thinking about starting their own company?
1- You have to learn your own way through your own mistakes.
2- Don’t try to invent something new. Reinvent something that already exists and do it better.
3- Don’t expect to follow your business plan. It’s an ongoing open-ended document to use as a guide that will evolve into something unexpected.
How has parenthood changed the way you approach work and running your own business?
In my particular case, in many ways. I use my short experience as a mother to improve my business in any way I can. I use my daily life as an inspiration to help other moms and dads navigate through the same challenges I have.
What is the vision for Big and Tiny as you continue to grow and expand?
Our vision is to provide as much for the “Big” as for the “Tiny”. We are offering a community for the “Big”, but it’s important that we build educational programs for the “Tiny” as well. Our mission is to provide a safe and inspiring environment for kids to grow, become independent, socialize, learn how to communicate, and respect the world around them. We have an amazing team of educators who facilitate the program and the experiential learning experience.