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Firms find common ground in shared Fan space

Jonathan Spiers January 20, 2017 5

Friends, colleagues and clients congregate at The Woodlot's open house Wednesday. (Jonathan Spiers)

Friends, colleagues and clients congregate at The Woodlot’s open house Wednesday. (Jonathan Spiers)

A women’s club of sorts is forming in the Fan.

Six women-owned businesses opened the doors this week to their new, shared workspace at 2219 W. Main St.

Called The Woodlot, the 1,800-square-foot space serves as a collaborative home base for the six firms, which likewise occasionally share projects and clients.

They include branding firm Campfire & Co., consulting firms The Spark Mill and The Apple Cart, marketing firm The Content Chop Shop, interior designer Bella Designs Studio and maternity resource firm Nurture RVA.

Campfire & Co. cofounders Christina Kern and Lauren Stewart led the effort with Spark Mill founder Sarah Milston. The two firms previously worked out of the Marvin Lang coworking space on West Broad Street.

Where most coworking spaces mix various businesses, Milston said The Woodlot takes the concept to different level.

“It’s a little different than coworking, because we all share clients,” said Milston. “It’s an intentional mix of businesses that don’t overlap but kind of mix.”

Six businesses work out of the 1,800-square-foot space at 2219 W. Main St. (Jonathan Spiers)

Six businesses work out of the 1,800-square-foot space at 2219 W. Main St. (Jonathan Spiers)

The group worked with brokers Sara Williamson and Martin Blum of Colliers International to find the space, which previously housed Diversity Thrift spinoff DT2 and, more recently, Speakeasy Tattoo & Skate.

They moved in last summer after Milston, Kern and Stewart signed a five-year lease with property owner Benjamin Woo. They spent about $60,000 renovating the space with local contractor The Wall Doctor and help from friends and family.

With about 15 people sharing the space, the group unveiled it with an open house Wednesday for clients and friends. The party included food and drink from several of the firms’ clients, including Belle Isle Craft Spirits, syrup maker Back Creek Farms, food truck Mean Bird, Steam Bell Beer Works and Sugar & Twine.

Kern and Stewart said it was unintentional that the six businesses in The Woodlot are all women-owned. Milston said it was more so the group’s collaborations, such as a recently awarded marketing project for Richmond nonprofit FeedMore, that brought them under the same roof.

“It’s a really efficient way to not have a huge agency with a lot of overhead and be able to share our services,” Milston said.

The Woodlot continues a shared workspace trend that is catching on in Richmond. Last year, local record label Egghunt Records moved into the downtown digs of another branding agency, Release the Hounds.

That’s in addition to a growing number of traditional coworking spaces, such as Gather, which has two locations in the city.

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5 Comments »

  1. Christie Thompson January 20, 2017 at 11:20 am - Reply

    Thanks for joining us for the opening Johnathan! We’re really excited to be here in the Fan, growing the idea of what a modern agency is.

  2. Jolinda Smithson January 20, 2017 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    Love what you business owners are doing to find great ways to server your clients. Note to the author, it seems dismissive of the owners’ hard work to call them a “club.” Strong write-up otherwise.

  3. Carly Romeo January 20, 2017 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    A “Woman’s Club”? Really? It’s a coworking space. Yes, it’s badass to be a female business owner but to adopt such a diminutive term for such a rad space is ridiculous.

  4. Jim Brown January 20, 2017 at 2:57 pm - Reply

    I love hearing about this type of collaboration, but I would echo the other comments that are saying that calling this a “women’s club” is unnecessarily dismissive. Sometimes it’s important to ask a question along the lines of “If this was were a business filled with men, would you bother calling it a ‘men’s club’?” If the answer is no, you should reconsider your phrasing.

  5. Evan MacKenzie January 20, 2017 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    I’d love to know more about these businesses and their collaborative/independent model – how they intertwine their clients, what they see as advantages to remaining independent instead of becoming a larger traditional Agency. That a group of successful women-owned businesses in Richmond are collaborating as an agency is absolutely newsworthy, but calling it a ‘women’s club’ is the exact opposite of the right way to cover it.

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