Publisher Hulya Aksu says that when she launched her magazine, I Am Modern, in the basement of her Broadlands home eight years ago, it was profitable “from day one,” but she thinks it would have grown faster if she had moved her business out of the basement sooner.
With that experience in mind, Aksu recently opened Posh Seven Studios in Ashburn and is making it available as a shared workspace for female entrepreneurs. The bright, open studio has desks, sofas, chairs and a conference room for her tenants to share. Aksu is also offering “lunch and learn” seminars and networking events to help her tenants’ businesses grow.
“They come in, they do their work, they pack up and then they leave,” she said, describing the studio as “a mobile office in a box.”
“Instead of meeting at Panera or Starbucks or in their basement, they can meet here,” Aksu said. “I wanted to create a studio where women can come in, get out of their basement, collaborate with each other, attend networking events, have a desk, have an outlet, give them some WiFi — no screaming kids around — and also give them the collaborative community environment.”
Aksu opened Posh Seven Studios in March, about the time she re-branded her magazine as Posh Seven to describe the area it covers around Route 7 and its readership of “posh and savvy women.”
“Our name may have changed, but our commitment to serving women has not wavered at all,” Aksu said. “This new location is the first bricks-and-mortar location that we have had since our founding, and we specifically chose Loudoun County because our core audience is here.”
She said she sees the studio not only as office space, but also as “a place where the community-owned businesses can come and introduce their brands and their own goods and services, and sell them to the community.”
Serena Rasoul, co-founder of Listenport, a small business that provides patient feedback systems for the medical profession, has used space in the studio since March. She said the studio has been “a really great space to meet new people.”
Rasoul said that the networking events Posh Seven sponsors have helped her find clients. “What’s great is that I can show them live from my computer, from my tablet, and I don’t have to arrange for multiple meetings,” Rasoul said. “Instead, it’s all done right here, and I’ve actually signed on customers on the spot here.”
Sharing space with other small businesses has additional benefits, Rasoul said, such as the ability to collaborate with other tenants who have skills in marketing, public relations and graphic design. “As a young start-up, we love it, because we’re learning from people around us who have more experience in the industry,” she said.
One freelancer who has benefited from the space-sharing arrangement is Guillermo Barrera, Posh Seven’s graphic designer. Rasoul arranged for Barrera, who usually works at the studio two days a week, to do some design work for Listenport. Barrera said he has met so many people at the networking events that he has had to turn away business.
Aksu said she periodically brings in local experts in areas such as human resources, public relations, marketing and social media as a free service for her tenants. She plans to make the sessions available to non-tenants as well, for a fee.
About 10 small businesses currently use the space at Posh Seven, Aksu said, including Farm to Fork, Ashburn Moon Senior Care and Total Strategy. She said that she has room for about 30 because the businesses keep different hours and need the space at different times. She is marketing the workspace primarily — but not exclusively — to female entrepreneurs.
Tenants pay for the use of the workspace according to a subscription-based model. The fee starts at $175 per month for about six hours a week, and can be as high as $500 a month for full-time use of the space. In addition, Posh Seven provides printing and photocopying equipment and pays overhead costs.
“We pay the bills, we supply the coffee and we get the wine on Fridays,” Aksu said with a laugh.
Jim Barnes is a freelance writer.