Just Touring This Calendar-Obsessed Creative’s Live-Work Apartment Will Make You Feel Productive
She loves visual management (and wallpaper).
Published Sep 26, 2023 1:30 AM
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Sara Fritsch is obsessed with time—not just the passing of it but specifically blocking it out, protecting it, and maximizing it. “If you don’t map out your time, someone else is going to take your time away from you,” says Fritsch. In her family’s Portland, Oregon, home, a giant chalkboard calendar off the kitchen fuels this passion. It holds all the answer’s to their week: when soccer practice starts, if there are any birthdays to celebrate, etc.
Fritsch admits she’s always been a lover of visual management, and having two kids only magnified her analog approach to organization. The former longtime president of Schoolhouse and her husband, Oliver, vice president of Nike sports apparel, had an aha moment around 15 years ago when they realized they could apply all the strategic planning they implemented at the corporate level to their own lives. By creatively using calendars, they make sure they tick every box, big (ski trips and anniversaries) and small (dentist appointments and parent-teacher conferences). Fritsch even has a calendar dedicated to daily reflections: Each evening, she jots down a quick note about something funny she heard, someone she saw, or something interesting she did.
When Fritsch left Schoolhouse at the end of 2022 and started her own creative venture, Studio Tigress—as of right now, a business that doubles as a consulting agency and shop—she returned to her product design roots. Her first launch? Calendars, of course. Each of her four designs captures the entire year on one sheet and essentially look like beautiful art prints. Aside from getting their life in order, customers can feel good about a portion of the sales going to The 1% Project, a collaboration to end homelessness. Markers, stickers, and highlighters aren’t included with purchase, but they are highly encouraged. “It would be fine if you bought a calendar, hung it up, and referenced it,” shares Fritsch,” but I might argue, it’s even better if you just go to town on it.”
Luckily, when Fritsch embarked on this major career shift, she had the perfect headquarters waiting for her to make it all happen. A few years ago, she bought a 500-square-foot condo in Portland that acts as both a private office (its proximity to Schoolhouse’s factory was a perk) and a spot to personally recharge. “I get energy from the city,” says Fritsch. “A lot of people are running away from downtown, and I just find myself running toward it.”
When she briefed local interior designer Casey Keasler of Casework on what she wanted her space to be like, she painted a romantic picture: Fritsch told her that she wanted it to be a backdrop for an affair with herself. “As anyone knows, when you’re working from home, there’s laundry, there’s mail, there’s all these distractions that, especially as a mom, you can’t help but deal with,” shares Fritsch. “When I go to the apartment, I can really have a clear space to think, be creative, and accomplish things.”
Even though the apartment isn’t actually home, it feels homey. A large pink velvet sofa—from where Fritsch will often conduct mentoring sessions and in-person meetings—is the first thing to greet you beyond the wallpaper-covered entryway. Fritsch brought meaningful decorative pieces from home, like a miniature grandfather clock that once belonged to her grandmother, duck decoys from her dad’s collection, and a tulip tower she bought when she lived in Amsterdam.
Tucked in a nearby niche is the bed, which gets a decent amount of use outside of working hours, usually by guests (Fritsch’s mom recently stayed in the apartment for three weeks) but also by her own family when they want to catch a late Portland Timbers or Thorns soccer game or when Fritsch, an avid runner, has an early-morning race.
Weekends will never go to waste, and that’s in large part to one of her innovative calendar designs, dubbed Square. Unlike traditional layouts, this one visually prioritizes weeks over months and specifically highlights Saturdays and Sundays. In other words: If you’re not marking down any fun plans for those two days of the week, it shows. “I think the weekends are such a special and different feeling than weekdays,” explains Fritsch. “And so this tells you, hey, you only get so many weekends in the year—let’s look at that.”
She’s also hyper-aware that there are only so many hours in each day. Fortunately, now she doesn’t have to adhere to a strict 9-to-5 schedule. “I’ve been able to break free of all of those constructs,” she shares—stuffy office cubicles included. “On any given day, I look at what’s important to me, personally and professionally, and find a way to fit it all in there.”