“Customer service is where you’re really supporting strangers. If you do it right, it’s one of the most inclusive things ever. Anyone can walk in from the street. It costs you nothing to treat them like a magical human being, no matter who they are.”
Paloma Medina | Founder 11:11 Supply
Paloma Medina, a self-described “super nerd,” wants everyone to live their best lives. That’s the model behind 11:11, a retail and workshop space she founded in 2018 to meld the beauty of science-backed methodology with sleek modernist style. The result is a highly curated treasure trove of functional products designed with various planning and accomplishment concepts—like time management and motivation—at their core. Why build a store around psychology? For Medina, independent studies in grad school sparked her curiosity.
While enrolled at NYU, Medina fell in love with her neuroscience courses and, around the same time, landed a performance coaching position in healthcare. She was hired to assess work environments and look for ways to improve systems. In the process, she found herself applying out-of-the-box techniques from her psychology toolbelt to reframe her own work style. In one example, by making small tweaks to the assessment process—switching from looking at “slow points” to “emotional points”—Medina more quickly and deeply engaged with team members to enact change. From there, her obsession with neuroscience techniques for change ballooned. The dream of opening a retail space sat patiently in her back pocket.
Before she moved to New York, Medina had lived up and down the West Coast, beginning in Guadalajara, Mexico, where she was born, immigrating to Southern California with her family at age eight, and later moving to Portland, Oregon. Medina spent half a decade on the East Coast, but the 2016 presidential election left her shaken. “It didn’t feel safe, so I moved back to Portland because it’s where I had community,” she says. “I knew I didn’t have to worry if I told people I was an immigrant, or a very opinionated immigrant. I [didn’t] want to hide or downplay who I am.”
Back in the Pacific Northwest, Medina developed her dream for 11:11 into a plan. Naturally, she applied a methodical approach, testing the viability of the concept with pop-ups before graduating to her own space. “I knew if the retail store was going to be profitable, it needed to appeal to not only me and my super nerd friends,” she explains with a laugh. After about a year, she found the perfect place on the ground level of the whimsical Fair-Haired Dumbbell building.
Inside, simple placards guide visitors through the experiential space. Each station bubbles with promise—to-do lists, habit-building trackers, and planners waiting to be filled; the perfect sand timer to master your Pomodoro technique; a pyramid of cascading Pothos and succulents. An air of contagious confidence stems from the possibility of changing life on your terms.
In addition to hosting workshops at 11:11 on topics like conflict, negotiation, and productivity in open floor plans, Medina offers independent trainings to institutions on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). She recently spoke at TEDxPortland, explaining the shortcomings of seeking “diversity” as opposed to “equity,” and what those terms mean specifically through the lens of neuroscience.
“I didn’t touch equity, diversity, and inclusion until I moved to Portland because I was scared,” she says. “But how can I say that 11:11 and I are about living your best life while ignoring one of the most important core needs that humans have: fairness and justice? [By] talking about these issues around an anatomical perspective, maybe people who are scared to dive into these conversations will feel a little safer because they can see what’s happening in their brain, see what’s happening in other peoples’ brains, and how much this all matters.”
The through-line between Medina’s workshops, presentations, and brick-and-mortar? The people.
“Customer service is where you’re really supporting strangers,” she says. “If you do it right, it’s one of the most inclusive things ever. Anyone can walk in from the street. It costs you nothing to treat them like a magical human being, no matter who they are.”
Author: Emilly Prado
Photos: Diego Diaz
Published: December 2019