August 20, 2016
by Angela Folds
Coworking spaces — membership-based workspaces where diverse groups of freelancers, remote workers and other independent professionals work together in a shared, communal setting — are on the rise in Middle Tennessee.
In the past, when local professionals with home-based careers sought public or social settings in which to conduct business, they’d set up shop in coffee houses and cafés. The introduction of coworking spaces added another option for this growing demographic of workers.
Stoney Noell, a freelance graphic designer, founded Franklin’s first coworking space, Franklin Creative Suite, in December 2010. His vision was to create a work collaborative for creative entrepreneurs in which innovative individuals and organizations could benefit by sharing the cost of space, equipment and office supplies while also forging relationships among fellow members to collaborate, motivate and offer support to one another.
“I was doing freelance work, and was surrounded by other friends who did freelance work as well. I’ve never enjoyed the corporate office setting, but also was getting tired of working from home. I love coffee shops, but at the time had to save money,” Noell said.
“I heard of a space coming available above Handy Hardware, so I checked it out. As soon as I walked in, I felt like the Lord showed me that this would be a space for freelancers and small businesses to build community and work together. Franklin Creative Suite was born; a month and a half later we were open!”
Noell transformed space Handy Hardware had used for storage into 2,000 square feet of office and studio space. It’s currently being used by an eclectic group of members, including nonprofit organizations, photographers, writers, graphic designers, videographers and more.
“Basically, I founded Franklin Creative Suite so I could work with friends, instead of by myself. I wanted it to feel cozy, trendy, and inspire creative work,” he said.
David Braud, a professional photographer and owner of Flashtastic Photo Booth, joined Franklin Creative Suite in 2011. He created a photography studio in the space and manages the operations for Franklin Creative Suite.
“The newer shared spaces that are opening in the area offer a more corporate environment. Our space has a distinctively Franklin feel, which is much more laid back and casual,” Braud said. “Plus, we all benefit from the collaborative environment of this shared space.”
For example, if Braud needs video production services he collaborates with fellow member Casey Cornett, owner of Sketch Creative. Likewise, Cornett collaborates with Braud for his still photography needs.
Local nonprofit organization Hands and Feet Project chose to relocate their ministry from a house on West Main to Franklin Creative Suite because the “feel” of the workspace best matched their mission. Hands and Feet is a nonprofit organization providing residential care and sustainable solutions that fight against Haiti’s orphan crisis
“As a very cross-cultural organization, this space feels more like ‘us’,” said John Schuster, operations manager for Haiti Made, the retail division of Hands and Feet. “I don’t have time for a suit and tie, and a corporate office environment wouldn’t reflect who we are. This space better reflects the work that we do.”
Haiti Made creates products, economic sustainability and jobs to fight against Haiti’s orphan and child slavery crisis.
“These guys are doing important work,” Braud said. “It’s a privilege having them in this space. We have a unique camaraderie here. Like, Tuesdays are ‘Taco Tuesday’ and we’ll go to Oscar’s or Pueblo Real together. Or we will walk to Frothy Monkey or Starbucks. We’re in a great location to really experience downtown Franklin.”
FCS offers various membership options, including daily rates, monthly rates or annual membership packages. A daily visit is $35 and includes an open desk anytime Monday–Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monthly rates start at $325/month and include your own desk, a key to the building and open use of the office space.
Franklin Creative Suite is located at 731 Columbia Ave., Suite 200, Franklin, TN 37064. Just look for the blue door behind Handy Hardware. For more information, visit http://www.franklincreativesuite.com.