Laguna Hills-Based She Shed Living Helps Women Create Backyard Retreats

Photograph by Emily J. Davis

Founded by Sabrina Contreras and Erika Kotite in 2017, She Shed Living designs and builds sheds for women—but probably not the type of shed you’re imagining. “When you go to the backyard, you’re with nature. The garden, the landscape, the sunshine … you’re in this little building made just for you, and it’s very magical,” Contreras says.

She Shed Living founders Sabrina Contreras (left) and Erika Kotite; Photograph by Emily J. Davis

How did you and Erika start She Shed Living?
Erika had written two books about she sheds, and I had seen her at an open-air market where creative women were selling goods out by the coast. When I saw Erika at this event, I just went nuts and glowed. I had a big outdoor event that I did monthly in O.C. as well. I featured her at my event, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how many opportunities there would be with this she shed movement. For a few months we pondered what we could do and how we would do it. This (idea) just hit home for both of us, and we never looked back. We are all about connecting women, encouraging them to take more time for themselves. We also have our private-label paint called She Shades, which is the only outdoor chalk paint on the market.

What is a she shed?
It’s a place to be rejuvenated, where you can decompress, dream, and plan. Many companies are having employees work from home, and (women are) finding they work better in the shed. Some women are even starting their business in or moving it to their she sheds, including hair stylists and massage therapists. This is a place where you can create—it’s a backyard retreat to do what you love.

What types of sheds do you create?
The most common size for a she shed is 10 by 10 feet. In most areas, that is the largest size you can build without a permit. You have to consider what size you want, what style, the location, type of foundation, the color, how many windows, a porch, a pathway, French doors. Creating an enchanting entrance is so key because you want it to call out to you and remind you to come outside and take time for yourself. How you landscape around it just adds more beauty. One popular feature is a drop-down bar where you can put barstools. It just extends the space.

Do you have your own she shed?
I do; I built one with my husband after I met Erika. I designed it, and he had a hammer and drill. I used reclaimed wood and chicken wire. The best thing I did was designing it with wheels. There are no rules about how sophisticated or intricate the sheds need to be. Sometimes simple is best. It depends on what you want and your budget. We can help women get their shed built, but we are about more than just building a she shed; we are trying to (help women make) time for themselves and have a beautiful place.

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