Living where you work is an easy fit for entrepreneur Zac Campbell
STEVEN LINDSEY | Contributing Writer
Going to work naked isn’t an option for most people … unless you happen to work in the adult entertainment industry. But as anyone who works from home will attest, “Casual Friday” doesn’t have to come at the end of the week. And there are many interpretations of how casual “casual” can get.
For Zac Campbell, working and living in the same space — in the Mitchell Lofts building at the edge of vibrant, young, LGBT-friendly Deep Ellum and Exposition Park — provides plenty of creative inspiration.
“When I walked up to the front doors of the Mitchell Lofts and grabbed the hand-wrought brass door handles, I knew I was not walking into a cookie-cutter space,” says Campbell. “The loft I ended up taking had literally been on the market for about 20 minutes. I walked into the space and because it was being used as an office for a data-mining firm, I immediately had to put on my designer goggles and visualize [converting it to a living space].”
What he didn’t have to visualize was how happy he’d be to wake up every morning. The open floor plan prominently features spectacular Downtown views. The 100-year-old wood floors, an expansive galley kitchen (Campbell is a trained chef who used to work as a caterer and personal chef) and a spacious his-and-his bathroom with garden tub convinced him he was home.
A month after acquiring the loft, Campbell met his interior-designer fiancé; their first collaboration as a couple was tackling a re-design of the 2,100-square-foot apartment.
“The loft represents our lives perfectly,” Campbell says. “The dining room table seats 14 guests. The 15-foot-long custom-designed butcher block island houses all my cheffy tools, and also acts as a bar with seating for eight.” When Campbell used to teach cooking classes, the space was ideally suited for allowing his students to see him work (although he admits being a little self-conscious about them also being able to see his bedroom — it’s all one giant open layout.)
There is a designated office area for him to work, but if he needs a mental break he’s just steps away from the living room that doubles as an impressive screening room with a 92-inch television. Comfort comes courtesy of an Eileen Gray sofa, a Barcelona-style love seat and Wassily chairs. A breakfast/game nook is encircled by windows with views of the city and neighborhoods beyond.
“I’m a total tech geek and the whole house is wired for both visual streaming as well as music. Images are constantly streaming whenever we entertain with screens strategically hidden away so it feels like an ever-changing art installation,” he says.
The loft building itself is steps away from Fair Park, close to the Green Line DART rail, and nearby such artsy attractions as the Ochre House theater and hipster pubs. Inside, the converted space is awash in brushed concrete and lacquered hardwoods, and even offers secured parking and a small gym.
But don’t think that Campbell is all play and no work. Among the businesses he’s run from the space are the aforementioned cooking classes and creating his own food product line … both of which he realized weren’t sustainable as full businesses.
“The space has been my own test lab for my entrepreneurial ideas. Some fly, some don’t,” he shrugs.
You might think that working and living in what is basically the same large room would drive you stir crazy … or lead to constant distractions. But that has not been the case for Campbell.
“I have worked for myself for years and have mastered the separation,” he says. “The difference with this business is I can do my work from anywhere that I have an Internet connection. There are times I will be at home working and then times I will head over to one of my favorite coffee shops or communal work spaces to get work done.”
Next up is a brand-new venture that will be headquartered out of the loft. “ZacLiving360.com is a culmination of my years as a designer, chef, event planner and basically a life hacker,” he says. “The company will focus on a market that I refer to as people who live life with champagne tastes and beer budgets.” The first product, which will be launched this summer, is DIY training for couples who are getting married.
Campbell describes the enterprise — called Wedding Planning Unzipped — as an interactive online course that will guide couples through the complex and often frustrating process of planning a wedding. From creating a strong, sensible budget to learning how to deal with an out-of-control, soon-to-be mother-in-law.
“This is not your typical wedding planning site. It’s not about the colors, the fluff and the fancy. This course is about setting you and your partner up for a successful celebration that in turn will set the stage for a strong, grounded marriage and not a debt-producing, stressful event that starts your marriage off under duress,” he says.
More broadly, ZacLiving360.com is about “learning ways to overcome fears, from cooking to finance, balancing children and friends, creating the job that supports your life, to learning how to travel the world like a queen but on a pauper’s budget,” he says. “It’s about grabbing life by the cojones and making it yours to celebrate.”
And for someone who has mastered work and home life, have a view both of the future and of the skyline is easy as pie.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 6, 2015.