It isn’t just a workspace. Natalia Bishop, founder of Story Louisville, sees the concept as something much bigger.

She envisions it as a place where entrepreneurs and business owners of like minds can meet and share knowledge and experiences. It’s a daily collaboration, in a sense.

“It’s like networking,” she says, “but without the business cards.”

Story Louisville’s new space, located in the former DeHart Paint & Varnish Co. building at 900 E. Main St., will celebrate its grand opening Wednesday, June 5, with an on-site event at 4 p.m.

Natalia Bishop | Courtesy

The three-story building, which includes roughly 30,000 square feet of space, isn’t totally finished, but the upper two levels are functional and at least partially occupied, with some improvements and finishing touches still underway on the second floor.

The first floor is in the process of being built out and is expected to open later this summer.

The uppermost floor is home to a massive, 4,000-square-foot event space, plus offices for a pair of businesses — LifeLines Neuro and Adaptive Endo — while the second floor is home to workforce communication tool Red e App and other businesses, and also a shared workspace with multiple conference rooms, individual offices, a kitchen and more.

Story Louisville is a sister business to Level Up, which provides learning opportunities geared toward women.

While female entrepreneurs are a focus of Story Louisville, which also has a shared workspace a block over at 806 1/2 E. Market St., full-on diversity is the goal.

The business first began at Butchertown Market in 2017.

“I wanted to make it so people could walk in and feel a sense of belonging,” Bishop says of the concept.

This vision holds true right down to the bathroom facilities, which all are individual rooms that are not gender specific.

Like the other versions of Story Louisville, the new space offers memberships at different levels, from shared space access to personal offices. When the main floor opens, it will be focused on space for entrepreneurs looking to launch a business or established businesses that want to scale up. They would have access not just to each other, but also to professionals that can help them achieve their goals.

“I think you’re going to see a change in the perception of entrepreneurship,” Bishop says.

Natalie O Design is in charge of the interior design at Story Louisville. It’s modern, bright and clean, but at the same time, it blends with exposed beams and ceilings that remind visitors of the history of the building, which dates to the 1870s and previously was a mill, a machine shop and other businesses. The space had sat empty for many years before its renovation.

Bryan Ehret, founder of a startup called MobileMedTek, which now operates in the building, is an investor in the property and also served as the general contractor on the project.

“They made my vision come to life in a way I never could have done myself,” Bishop says, calling it “a magical unicorn of a partnership.”

The former paint factory on Main Street had sat empty for years before its renovation. | Photo by Luke Metzinger, Natalie O Design

Bishop feels it has an international feel in that it doesn’t reflect any specific culture, which was intentional. One visitor, who had worked and lived in Europe and traveled all over the world, told Bishop it made an impression on him that Louisville is more progressive than he had expected.

In other words, it’s a space that makes it clear Kentucky is about more than just bourbon and horses.

“Nothing against bourbon and horses,” Bishop says. “That’s part of our DNA, and we love it. But we’re not just about that.”

Bishop’s vision for Story Louisville began when she was a self-employed photographer. She was working for herself, but found she was bored working alone and craved more human interaction.

She decided to open a studio and found space at Butchertown Market. She added a couple of other photographers to the mix, and within a year, she had doubled her business. She believed an expanded version of that concept would work — and so far, it has.

The buildout of the old paint factory has taken 18 months so far — “It’s like having a child, but twice,” she says — with more surely to come, as spaces have already begun to fill up. Pricing starts at $25 for a day pass, $125 per month for a part-time general membership and $225 for full-time. Prices elevate to as high as $850 for a double private office.

Members get high-speed wireless internet, shared work space, access to conference rooms, free coffee, tea, snacks and more, a business mailbox address and, of course, a pipeline to a variety of services and professionals.

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Kevin Gibson
Kevin Gibson tackles the 3Rs — retail, restaurants, real estate — plus, economic development. He loves bacon, loathes cucumbers and once interviewed Yoko Ono. Check out his books, “Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft” and “100 Things to do in Louisville Before You Die.” He has won numerous awards for his work but doesn’t know where most of them are now. In his spare time, he plays in a band called the Uncommon Houseflies.Email Kevin at [email protected]