I’m meeting Natasha Bell, or to those who know (and can’t help but love) her, Tasha, at a café in Shoreditch. It’s sunny outside, and it’s sunny inside because Tasha is sitting opposite me, beaming her million dollar smile.
This lady radiates good energy with a side of peaceful calm and a pinch of playfulness. Someone you’d be lucky to have as a friend and even luckier to have on your team. The lucky ones in this case are Canvas Offices.
As ‘Dream a Little Dream of Me’ by Mama Cass floats through the air, we order something delicious, and sit under a vast chandelier made of giant light bulbs like a hundred brilliant ideas.
Tasha is the Central Operations manager at Canvas. She was one of the first employees back when the company was known as RNR Property.
“I started off as an administrator, which seems like a very very long time ago. Then I became a general manager of seven buildings and then as time went on, Canvas grew and took on more buildings which meant we had to split them into clusters, and shortly after, I went on maternity leave.”
“The team were very adaptable and made it easy for my return as they created a role suitable for me when I was ready to come back to work.”
“I’ve been at Canvas for five years now. I’m quite a shy person but I love that I’m always pushed to do more, because they can see my potential. When I say ‘they’ I mean my team, my managers and directors, and the founders from the start. There’s somethings I felt like I couldn’t do but I accomplished them because I’ve been motivated and pushed to the best of my ability and I’m so grateful for that.”
That’s amazing, all the things you doubted about yourself, the guys just took them and said, ‘no Tasha, that’s total nonsense’. And you proved yourself wrong!
“Exactly, yeh!” She laughs a full, infectious laugh.
So, you’re in Peter’s team now (Kitchener, Director of Operations), what’s involved in your role now?
“All the processes in operations, I have to make sure they are functioning well, and that they work well for everyone in the teams. And if there’s any improvements or changes that need to be made, that’s all down to me. There’s also two other projects that I’ve taken on, because I have the knowledge from when I was an administrator that don’t strictly fall under my team’s remit, so I’m doing a lot more than my core role at the moment.”
When you started with Canvas, what did it look like?
“Well, there was only about five of us. Then, after I started we recruited two more people and we were in a smaller building – we still have it now actually – it’s in Hoxton. We grew quickly so it wasn’t long before we were huddled around a central desk together. It wasn’t uncomfortable but it was definitely too small for us all! Then shortly after, we moved to one of our buildings opposite Shoreditch High Street station.”
What drew you to Canvas in the first place then? Today, it’s seems like no-brainer. We’re doing super exciting things and we’re all over London, but back then, what was it about the company?
“I heard about the role through a friend of a friend. It was exciting to join a company that I knew next to nothing about. Before, I’d done loads of admin but it was always in education or finance which I didn’t find that interesting… It was pretty boring to be honest, it just wasn’t my thing!”
“I’d started a finance course before I joined, then I changed my mind and started with Canvas instead, and it was so fresh! It was great to see two brothers start a family business and to grow this big! I never thought we’d grow so quick and get to this scale. It’s nuts!”
“Back then I had loads of roles. I was an office manager, operations, dealing with business rates and sales. Sometimes I’d even have to pitch in and do viewings as well. We were all doing so much! But it was good for me because it helped me figure out what field I wanted to delve into. ”
“Even being here for 5 years seems crazy. Time has really flown. I’ve stayed with Canvas this long because it’s a family business but they also made me feel like I was part of their family. And I feel like even though the team has grown, that family orientation is still there. We get to go away together on company trips abroad and everyone has different bonds and friendships, and honestly, it’s just such a nice place to work.”
“ Naturally there’s more of a distance now between myself and the founders as we’re not huddled around a table anymore, but when they’re in the office I feel so comfortable going up to them and having a conversation – but it turns out everyone feels the same way – and that’s so nice. They’re actually interested in people. That’s rare.”
To me, everyone seems so comfortable in their own skin, they’re just themselves and that not just ‘ok’, that seems to be what Canvas actually values in their people, would you agree?
“Exactly! That’s one thing that stands out to me. Everyone is so different, but there’s like a similar thing that we all have and it means we just ‘get’ each other. We know why we’re here and what we’re trying to do.”
So, over the five years you’ve been with Canvas, do you have any standout moments?
“I think coming back from maternity. Having a year away, there was a huge change because it was during Covid. About 50% of the team had changed, and we had new additions too. But coming back it was like ‘woah! This is a big change. Canvas has done all this. Grown so much, with so many buildings’. It was so overwhelming but in a very good way.”
What about the office space the Canvas team work in? Do you think we practice what we preach by adapting and flexing the spaces with our needs as a business?. You mentioned the big table in Hoxton, what about where you are now in Luke Street?
“Since we’ve moved to our headquarter office, we’ve had two office moves already!. Everyone was involved and had a say in how it all changed. Mat [Moore, Head of Marketing] and Jeanette [Dear, Office Manager] put together a questionnaire to get some feedback about what everyone would like in the office. We now have an Xbox. When I saw them setting it up I thought, I’m never going to play that… but a couple of hours later…! Honestly, people started saying ‘ah, don’t mess with Tasha, she’s so competitive!’ I didn’t want to show that side of me! [laughing into a well-manicured hand]. I was a sore loser, I lost twice. I was like, come on, who’s next?”
What game was it?
“Formula One. Lewis Hamilton’s my cousin, by the way.”
Sorry, what? You can’t casually throw that into the conversation!
“I know! Well, my third cousin. I’ve not actually met him though.”
I think there must be a driving gene in the family then! How are you with real driving, then?
“I’m an excellent driver!” She’s smiling, but you know she’s deadly serious, and I believe her.
So, let’s get to know Natasha a little bit more. What’s your food heaven?
Tash stands up, turns round to reveal a design of a big bowl of mac ‘n’’ cheese in neon colours. If only all the answers to life’s big questions were waiting for you on the back of a t-shirt.
“Anything diary… I have a massive intolerance. I have to have vegan mac ‘n’ cheese, vegan Applewood smoky cheese is the answer!”
Who would play you in a move about your life?
If you could go back in time to experience something, what would it be?
“Princess Diana times. My mum loves her so much it’s unreal and I just want to feel it and understand it. I mean, I’d love to meet her!”
Tell me one thing that’s on your bucket list.
“A solo trip around Asia for a month. I love being by myself and creating my own environment.”
What song will get you on the dance floor without fail?
“Candy by Cameo. I know all the dance moves.”
What three things would you take on a desert island?
“A knife. A tent. A gas lighter to keep warm and cook!”
If you think Canvas could be your next career destination, come and talk to us today, or take a look at our current vacancies here. We can’t wait to hear from you.