Dawn Shannon and Tamara Payne’s journey together began years ago at a women’s group that Payne ran, which then progressed into a professional relationship with Shannon providing professional coaching and Payne performing marketing tasks.
Now the duo has teamed up together to co-found and manage the first female-owned coworking space in North Texas, Ensemble Coworking.
“About four months into our coaching after not telling anyone what I was working on, I told her ‘I think I want to start a coworking space’,” said Payne. “She said, ‘Hold on, let me take off my coaching hat and put on my friend hat…This is something I would really like to do with you’.”
Just over two years ago, Shannon and Payne opened the doors to Ensemble in the Near Southside area of Fort Worth, which was one of the first coworking spaces in the area.
“The Near Southside as well as the Chamber of Commerce and the entrepreneurial ecosystem is great. There are a lot of great players at the university and nonprofits that have been very supportive and helpful,” said Shannon. “There are great people to bounce ideas off of and seek advice and guidance from and what we’re all trying to do is strengthen the ecoysstem in Fort Worth for startups.”
Ensemble offers a variety of solutions for businesses, including both part-time and full-time memberships and conference rooms available for rent.
“A big part of it is Dawn and I,” said Payne. “We are involved in this every part of the day. We are invested in our people’s success, in their growth, and we provide them with resources and connections that we need.”
The Ensemble team have been recognized for the attention they give to their community. In January, the team was recognized as the winners of Fort Worth Inc.’s 2018 Supporter of Entrepreneurship Award.
“We’re the local coworking office that’s a home away from home,” said Shannon. “We provide a comfortable professional environment that’s also private.”
Ensemble plans to continue their mission through a collaboration forum that they will be hosting on August 20th to give and share information on scaling small businesses. Next year, they plan to host two forums as well.
Where did the idea originate?
Payne first became enthralled with coworking years earlier when she visited a Dallas-based coworking space; however, it wasn’t until a few years later that she saw the possibility to start her own space in Fort Worth.
“I thought this is the way that working is going towards,” said Payne. “This is like having a networking group all the time, and what I’m good at is building businesses, building groups and connecting people together, so I started working on the concept.”
In the beginning, the pair did consider opening a female-only coworking space, which they did end up changing based upon feedback from others. Since Ensemble’s inception, they have been able to bring local awareness to coworking as well as tread new waters for female business owners too.
“When we opened, there was a lot of momentum and people coming in just really curious to see what we were doing and really excited for us especially as two women entrepreneurs opening a 5700 square foot coworking space,” said Payne. “There was a lot of great reaction when we opened, and there’s still a lot of education to be done in the community.”
Shannon and Payne, however, did encounter some skepticism from community members.
“We had some people come to us and say, ‘We owe you an apology. We didn’t think you guys had what it took to get it up and running’, so they came back and confessed,” said Shannon.
“There is something for leading the way and setting the path for those to come behind us whether they be coworking or other businesses, so for us to break into an industry that has been primarily run by men, we love being able to be an example for women in business,” said Shannon.
Where to find Ensemble?
Ensemble is located at 1617 Park Pl Ave Suite 110 in the Near Southside of Fort Worth.