Natalia Bishop calls her community-based co-working venture, Story Louisville, “a Starbucks where everyone knows you.” The communal space in Butchertown Market is home to 21 members, some full and some part time.
Bishop liked the energy in NuLu and Butchertown, but she said when she stumbled on the Butchertown Market building, she knew she wanted in. She told Insider that she “basically bugged” co-owner Andy Blieden until he found space for her.
Creatives and entrepreneurs can often isolate themselves by working alone. “They’re doing it alone so much, and there’s no reason to,” she said, adding that one of the best things about co-working is having people to collaborate with and bounce ideas off of.
Amanda Dare Dougherty, owner of online clothing store The New Blak, told Insider in an email exchange that she’s “pretty obsessed with the place.” She’s considering hosting a pop-up shop of her clothing there. “It is stylish and a great co-work space to meet other creatives. You can rent it out for bigger events, since I don’t have a permanent space for The New Blak, I love that aspect.”
Bishop’s emphasis on community may make good business sense. Researchers at Harvard Business Review reported that “connections with others are a big reason why people pay to work in a communal space, as opposed to working from home for free or renting a nondescript office.”
Bishop also started Level Up Louisville late last year, a series of pop-up workshops on subjects ranging from photography (which she also teaches) to mixology to marketing. She started holding the workshops at Story Louisville, but eventually moved them all around town in different venues.
She said there’s not much rhyme or reason for which classes she offers. She said she started with a “brain dump of everything I wanted to learn.”
“It’s really rewarding seeing people learn a new skill,” she said.
For Level Up Louisville this month, Bishop is offering two photography classes — one for your iPhone and one for that new fancy camera you received for Christmas. Jason Clark, president and CEO of VIA Studio, will also be teaching his first class with Level Up Louisville. He’s calling it “Marketing 101,” and said it’s perfect for new entrepreneurs or small-business owners.
Bishop moved to the United States from Colombia with her family 15 years ago. Early on, she said she worked three jobs, including the late shift at UPS. But eventually, she found her path to entrepreneurship and became a freelance photographer, starting ChocolateBox Photography.
Story Louisville was inspired by her desire to have someplace to meet with potential clients besides the local coffee shops, she said. Indeed, she purposefully wanted the office to have a coffee shop-like feel: lots of exposed brick, raw wood, succulents and clean lines. The offices, which are large open rooms with a variety of seating options, are on two floors above the Drinkswell bar.
But for Bishop, the venue is more than just a place to work: it’s about the community. “Natalia works so well with me,” Dougherty said. “She is a great leader and adds value to all of her members’ lives.”
Research shows that co-working can be good for both your mental and physical health. In the multiyear HBR study of how employees thrive, researchers discovered that people who belong to such venues report levels of thriving that approach an average of 6 on a 7-point scale. The report said, “This is at least a point higher than the average for employees who do their jobs in regular offices, and something so unheard of that we had to look at the data again”
Every week Story Louisville hosts free yoga for its members and monthly “meet and mingles.” The kitchen is stocked with local coffee and Kentucky Kombucha. Full-time membership is $395 a month; part-time is $175. A digital membership is $15 a month and gives members access to the private social network, one monthly day pass to the co-working space, discounts on studio and meeting room rentals as well as any of Story’s events.