Detroit Startup Week Interview: Karen Burton, Making and Taking Space in Detroit

Tash Moore, head blogger for Detroit Startup Week and founder of Catch-313 social media agency interview SpaceLab’s CEO Karen Burton on Medium.

Tash Moore: Thank you so much for chatting with me? You run SpaceLab Detroit, the coworking space downtown geared toward architecture, community development, and like-minded firms. How did you discover coworking?

Karen Burton: Thanks for the opportunity, Tash. I opened my first design and drafting business years ago in Flint. I started in a 70 square foot office in an incubator just north of downtown called the Oak Business Center, which is still operating today. There were a variety of businesses there — professional services and retail with a conference room to share — but at the time everyone seemed pretty disconnected. I thought there could be a better way for businesses to share resources and collaborate.

I see [Detroit] as a top-tier entrepreneurial hub for the country. There are so many resources available and a wealth of opportunities for innovation. – Karen Burton

Freelancing as an architectural designer, the traditional “third places” like coffee shops and libraries didn’t always fit my needs or my colleagues’. We’d need a place to print construction documents and large tables to lay them out for review when meeting with clients. There were many of us solopreneurs who wanted to collaborate on larger projects, and we needed somewhere to come together. The idea for our design and construction-focused coworking space began to develop some time ago, but the timing was perfect in 2015 after I left a job. The following year, my husband Bobby left his, and we decided to pursue the SpaceLab concept together.

TM: With associated partnerships with NOMA Detroit and AIA Detroit, your space really highlights inclusion in a field that doesn’t showcase as much diversity nationally. Besides our majority-black population, what else do you believe makes Detroit special?

KB: I’m proud of my connections with those organizations, as well as with NAWIC and NABWIC, the women in construction groups. We want to highlight that professionals of color and women working in these fields that are so-called non-traditional for us are just as educated and qualified and can lead and work alongside majority companies to get the projects done. SpaceLab is a diverse shared office space with members of all backgrounds and age groups. We’re thankful that people choose to grow their businesses with us.

Women are leading the way in entrepreneurship and startups… Read the entire article on Medium >>>