The creative COOP is getting Granville’s entrepreneurs out of their living rooms and into a growing coworking space that recently expanded with a move across downtown to 119 W. Broadway.
Licking County’s first coworking space started small – two friends sharing an office. Then a third partner. Then seven full-time creatives in about 700 square feet of space. With a wait list and a desire to expand the educational opportunities wrapped around the office space, partners Chad DiBlasio, Jodi Melfi and Michelle Newman Brady set up shop in the former church classroom building earlier this year.
DiBlasio, owner of DiBlasio Photography, and Melfi, head of her own graphic design firm, had been discussing sharing an office space. When Melfi was spotted at a coffee meeting with a client and peppered with questions from curious minds after, she knew it was time to get out of her living room and commit to a space.
The duo shared an office for two years, and, “In that time my business doubled each year,” Melfi says. “It was completely worth it.”
Based on their sharing success and through examining their business models that incorporated mentoring and working with interns, Melfi and DiBlasio started thinking bigger.
“Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could offer this to more people to have some place to actually come to work,” Melfi says. “To have some sort of social environment.”
The pair found a third tenant and a retail storefront space to accommodate their potential new parter, but when circumstances changed at the last minute, DiBlasio and Melfi needed to find a new coworker.
Both had previously met Brady through various engagements, DiBlasio taking family photos and Melfi working in marketing with Brady at the Granville Area Chamber of Commerce. As fate would have it, Brady was toying with the idea of growing her coaching and consulting business.
At first she was hesitant. She didn’t know if she was ready to make the financial commitment.
“Then Jodi told me about how it made a difference to her business,” Brady says. She signed on for a trial period.
“In that three months my productivity was through the roof,” Brady says. “I was successfully able to launch my own business full-time in this kind of environment.”
The trio found that their open-door, shared environment had several benefits for all of their operations.
“It can get exceptionally isolating when you are working on your own,” Brady says.
Working together allows the entrepreneurs to ask questions, ask for help and leverage each other’s networks. With complimentary skill sets, the group has also been able to share clients in almost an agency sort of way.
Even through the individual successes, the group once again found themselves wanting to push the education and mentoring component and once again out of space to do it.
“We want to get more people through here and get them connected,” Brady says.
From their new home the creative COOP will launch a book club for entrepreneurs in partnership with the library, start offering lunch and learn style events discussing various business topics and more. They also hope to find ways to partner with their neighbor just up the hill – Denison University.
With the move, the creative COOP has also restructured to better serve its mission. Now as a non-profit organization, Brady says they want to tap into grants and other tools and educational resources.
“We really want to be that hub for people on the brink of doing the next thing,” she says.
And more people can join that fold with the expanded square footage of the new location. There is still space for another one to two full-timers, and the creative COOP is introducing a new membership option. Professionals can sign up for a day desk membership – a punch card good for nine visits for $200. Brady says it’s ideal for someone who might not be ready to make the full financial commitment or has the area as part of a sales territory and needs a space to work occasionally.
As the creative COOP has continued to grow, Melfi says she’s come to realize just how many people like her there are in the area. The meetings and conversations happening at local coffee shops – there is global business being done.
“Why are we all working by ourselves?” Brady asks.
When she moved to the area from North Carolina, Brady spent a lot of time traveling back and forth from Columbus. Then she realized why live in a quaint town like Granville if she’s not spending any time there? But to live and work there she needed resources – resources she now finds at the creative COOP and hopes other entrepreneurs will as well.
For more information, visit creativecoopspace.com.