Darren Fishman runs three businesses from home.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANTHONY-MASTERSON
Sitting in spacious, well-appointed home offices that face pools and mountains, those who can work from home find Greater Palm Springs to be their ideal backdrop.
As people across a range of careers became comfortable working remotely, Greater Palm Springs saw a spike in newcomers looking for a relaxed setting to ride out the pandemic and remain productive. Transplanted entrepreneurs and business owners as well as rising stars in science, tech, healthcare, and the creative fields haves created a new pool of professionals in the area.
• RELATED STORY: Greater Palm Springs Offers Resources to Succeed in Business.
Settled into independent, tech-enabled workspaces, the success stories we meet made the move outright or transitioned from weekending to full-timing. In the process, they styled home offices that speak to their personal motivations and workflow as well as a resort-inspired lifestyle.
“The pool is right here for a quick dip during a lunch break. I can even work from the comfort of the cabana.”
The fantasy-come-true includes the option of indoor-outdoor routines, such as yoga on the lawn or an invigorating mid-morning swim after a Zoom meeting. Pop out for an afternoon bike ride or a meeting over coffee in a peaceful courtyard. Wind down in the hot tub, on a sunset hike, or with friends over cocktails crafted with fresh citrus from a nearby tree.
Where else would you do your best work? Greater Palm Springs is beautiful, livable, and accessible with an international airport that seems to expand direct flights every week.
A visit will reveal why so many people come for vacation or a business meeting and never want to leave. The desert isn’t for everybody, but it’s perfect for those we feature here — and it could be for you, too.
Half a world away, Melbourne, Australia is home to over 4 million people. Until several years ago, creative director Darren Fishman was among them, forging a career in advertising in the metropolis where he was born and raised.
Mod Mirror Villa
Twin Palms Clothing Co.
Glam and graphic,
with deco accents
“Culture, weather, environment, people, architecture, and design and style that is all around.”
“I always saw myself as a big-city person,” he says, “but Palm Springs offered the best of both worlds with big-city fashion, food, and culture combined with the relaxed pace of a smaller town.” Numerous desert vacations over the years — spurred by his affinity for all things retro and midcentury — led Fishman to purchase a vacation home four years ago. That decision instigated his plan to live and work here full-time.
“I wanted to get a foothold by purchasing a larger home, renovating it, and turning it into a high-end vacation rental,” he explains. “The aim was to provide some accommodation of my own for me when I was in town and an ongoing business when I wasn’t.” Two years later, he purchased a second home that is now his full-time residence. The original Mod Mirror Villa he designed with “a glam Hollywood Regency style” provides passive income as a vacation rental.
His mountain-view office immediately put him in a Palm Springs state of mind, which extends to his businesses. “I created my [branding, communications, events, and interiors] agency, Desert Society, to work with local businesses and homeowners,” he says, “but we’ve been working across SoCal and the country.” Through his fashion label, Twin Palms Clothing Co., he creates Palm Springs- and desert-themed shirts and other pieces available online and at Peepa’s in Palm Springs.
Multiple work areas in an open-concept home
Weather, work-life balance, ease of owning and operating a business
Stella Adena just celebrated 10 years in the desert, and in her home. The Ohio native lived in San Francisco and New York City before landing here to work. Six months later, she was in love with the area and her rental home. So, she called the property owner, who was living in Florida, and asked to buy it. Her unconventionality paid off. “I’ve been living here since day one when I walked off the plane,” she says. “It was the easiest transaction.”
She opened her retail store Rancho Relaxo in November 2019, “with a mission to inspire and delight.” Adena has positioned the shop as “a place to celebrate style, craftsmanship and artistry.”
When she’s not in the showroom, she’s camped out in a couple favorite spots in her house. Working remotely gives her flexibility for her two young children who have just started school. Her office is integrated into the open floor plan so she can keep an eye on them — and the other on the views.
“Even though I have an office area, I like to spread out. Working at the dining table, I can take in all the views.”
“Through the glass sliders, we look onto our backyard pool, which is set on the driving range of the golf course,” she says. “Beyond that, we have unadulterated views of the mountains.” The best vantage point is from her dining room table, which doubles as a giant work area.
Across the room, the built-ins along the office wall were a recent upgrade, suggested by an architect friend. “I like being around beautiful objects,” she says. “This was a place to curate all the little things I’ve held onto in the course of my life and have an emotional response to. It’s wonderful to have your own space to make a reflection of your history and your soul.”
Adena calls the circa 1962 home she shares with her husband, Domenic — who works in the golf industry at PGA West — “a work in progress.” Their latest projects were painting the exterior breeze block a cool black and installing a Solar Roof by Tesla to take the family off the grid. Here’s to unconventional moves.
Indie film festival manager;
Development director of Snap Studio Palm Springs
Private pool, yard, mountains for hiking
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Terrell Sandefur was living in a 34th-floor condo in a Midtown Atlanta high-rise, looking out across the city and dreaming of the desert. His love was strong for Georgia, where he had helped establish the Macon Film Festival in his hometown and served as film commissioner. But since working on a project in Palm Springs for six months in 2017, his mind kept replaying his visions of the wide-open landscape.
“The lockdown was a big motivator,” he says. “I started thinking, ‘If this is going to be my life for a year, maybe longer, maybe forever, where do I really want to be?’ I can Zoom and work from anywhere. I decided to make the move now, not in 10 years.”
By November 2020, Sandefur was settled into the scenic, fairway-studded Indian Canyons neighborhood and working remotely. “I love the openness of the office space,” he says. “From my desk, I can see the pool, palm trees, and the mountains.
“I live and work in a piece of art. I can be really creative here.”
My favorite architectural element is the round ‘eye’ window. The first time I pulled up to the house, I knew it was mine. I’m very visual and it really spoke to me. I live and work in a piece of art that was beautifully created by designer Javier Echenique. It was like he made this house for me.”
His visceral connection to the home resulted in a friendship with Echenique, who was also the seller — par for the course in a small town that attracts creative people from big cities.
Sandefur relocated “not to retire, but to evolve.” In addition to his continued involvement in the Georgia film industry, he is working with Snap Studios Palm Springs to bring more filming to the area and with the Landers Film Festival in 2022 and the Joshua Tree Film Festival in 2023.
Spa Girl Cocktails
Hollywood Regency with bold colors and sparkling French chandeliers
Warm weather for neighborhood walks, year-round vacation vibes, ease of business travel, their Hollywood Regency home
Karen Haines has traveled the world as a flight attendant and lived in many different places, but her brand was born and raised in Palm Springs, and here the two shall stay.
“I’ve created a brand that celebrates women and their everyday lives, and that’s what the office reflects.”
So, what does Palm Springs in a bottle taste like? Spa Girl vodka cocktails come in Cucumber, Pear, and Peach. Sparking varieties are three newcomers in Mango, Strawberry, and Pineapple. Spring 2022 will bring “boozy pops” frozen popsicles. “Men really love Spa Girl, too,” Haines says. “We do really well at golf courses. And, of course, my husband drinks it.”
Haines’ holds tight to childhood memories of visiting Palm Springs, “but now it’s a spectacular little city,” she says, “and we love everything about it.” The couple recently purchased a second home high above the Vegas strip, where she needs to be for business. Haines says she can easily go back and forth as needed, and is always happy to return to her color-saturated home office.
Skye Daley and Chris Vetter
Cathedral City Planning Commissioner;
real estate entrepreneur
Inspired the clean lines, bright colors,
and wooden elements of midcentury modernism
Relaxation, real estate opportunities
Together 13 years and married for five, Skye Daley and Chris Vetter were one step ahead of the trend. In 2018, when their lease was up on their downtown L.A. apartment, Vetter saw no point in renewing it. “We’d been coming out here on vacation for years,” he says. “We would drive in from Highway 111, see that Palm Springs sign by the tram, and my shoulders just dropped and I could exhale. On one trip around that time, I looked at Skye and said, ‘Why not feel like this all the time?’”
“This office has become the hub of our life and the most important room in our house.”
They rented for a year and half until finding their three-bedroom house in Cathedral City. They flagged one bedroom as a dedicated office, never anticipating how much use it would get. Shortly thereafter, Skye no longer needed to work five days a week in the law firm’s office in Indian Wells. And Chris, a former chef, swapped his plan for a catering business for real estate endeavors that were never feasible in L.A.
“It’s a delicate dance with both of us here, but we make it work,” Daley says. (Loki, their dog, finds his command central with dog bed and dog door much busier now, but he’s making it work, too.) Daley attends court hearings, takes depositions, and argues cases in front of courtroom judges from San Diego to Modesto County all from home. Vetter manages five rental units and flips houses, a business venture with Daley’s brother. The couple is also prepping a cabin in Big Bear to rent on Airbnb.
With two people running two businesses in the same space, they keep the room neat and minimalist by scanning and uploading all paperwork to the cloud, eliminating the need for messy piles and file cabinets.
“Moving here was the single best decision we’ve made,” Daley says. Vetter adds, “It’s given us opportunities we wouldn’t have had otherwise. Skye is part of a major law firm locally, and I’ve changed careers for first time in 13 years. We’re setting down roots, and this valley has allowed us to do that.”