Leisa: Hello, I’m Leisa Holland-Nelson, and welcome to Women Mean Business where we’re going to chat with extraordinary women who are shattering glass ceilings every day, creating new business models, launching new companies and changing the ways we navigate and view our world. My guest today is Stephanie Tsuru, founder and CEO of SheSpace. Stephanie, welcome to Women Mean Business.
Stephanie: Hi Leisa, thank you for having me.
Leisa: Tell us about SheSpace.
Stephanie: So, SheSpace is a workspace. So, you can have an office or a desk, you can have meetings here, you can have events here. We also are very involved in educational programming, advancing women in their careers or their lives, professional and personal. We do a lot of things here just like women do in their daily lives.
Leisa: I know you have exercise programs.
Stephanie: Well, I’m just getting started. Don’t give it all the way in the very first minute.
Leisa: An interesting trend for millennials these days is running their own businesses or working semi-independently. Many of them are very successful, but they don’t want to be alone. So that was a big part, you are really creating community.
Stephanie: Yes. So, a large percentage of the women that work here are entrepreneurs or even solopreneurs, which is a very lonely and isolated place to be. So, they definitely needed a community. So, creating the network for them, creating resources for them, that was a large part of it.
Leisa: So, talk a little bit about the inspiration for the décor.
Stephanie: We did a lot of research and analyzed colors. So, color psychology, analyzed the type of environments that women want to work in. So, the colors we’ve all been working in like neutrals and blues and grays are not great for creativity or productivity. But it is not just about the space. Even though we did spend a lot of time getting the space. Why? Because women work really hard and we thought they deserved to work in a beautiful space, but really is more about the feeling you get when you walk in, rather than just the way it looks.
Leisa: Well, it is super, super special.
Stephanie: I did want to say that we had a team of 33 women that built out SheSpace. And that in itself is very unique. Started with the crucial realtor who you recommended me to and all the way to our exterior sign companies owned by women. So, it was a hundred percent built out, designed, managed finance by women.
Leisa: I know I’m very proud to be the creator of your website.
Stephanie: Well, always the women were the lead.
Leisa: And speaking of women, you’re not in this alone.
Stephanie: Thank goodness.
Leisa: I think we have an exciting person to also introduce to everyone. Come on in.
Stephanie: So, this woman is a lot of things to me, she’s very special. So, this is Katie Tsuru, who it is my first of all, my daughter-in-law. She is my partner. She is the co-founder and she is the brains of the organization right here.
Katie: It depends on how you define brains.
Leisa: Well, how do you define the brains?
Katie: We just have very opposite brains; I think when it comes to business. So, Stephanie brought a lot of the vision and the creativity behind this project which is something that I lack, and I can just picture and said, how are we going to do this financially? And how are we going to make money? So that was kind of that.
Leisa: I think that is very creative, also the whole concept of how we are staying in business, takes some creativity.
Katie: That’s very true because honestly…
Stephanie: It’s a creative process, we have both learned a lot. How are we going to do? We knew we were going to, but Katie’s like how? So, we have figured it out thanks to Katie.
Leisa: What is the future here? What are you going to do building this out? Are you going to other cities? How are you, what is the plan?
Katie: Our larger vision, we would love to go up to other cities. So, we’re going to focus on this space right now and growing it to its max. And then we’re gonna really look into expanding. So, I think this will always be the headquarters. But we both feel so strongly about this vision for so many reasons that we would love to bring this type of community to other places, especially in Texas.
Leisa: Well, I agree.
Stephanie: We both moved here, so we’re both transplanted to here, but we love what the city has been to us and done for us. And we do want to give back to the women of the city first. So, we’re very involved in the nonprofits in the area, specifically, those that are focusing on girls and women. So, we have partnered with three nonprofits, like actively partnering with three nonprofits for girls, like fifth grade through high school. And we want to be role models for the girls, and we want to start them young. I think if you wait until they’re older, it’s kind of two late. We actually start with fifth grade girls and just bring them in and they’re kind of seeing like, this is what you can do, this is what you can be.
Leisa: So, if you could have anything right now for SheSpace, any wish in anything, what would you guys want to have today?
Stephanie: I love being with these women here so much. I just want more hours in the day to spend with them.
Katie: That is true.
Stephanie: Because we really have developed relationships, and they really have developed relationships with each other. And so, it’s really working. It’s really fun to watch the connection starting. I need this. What do you think of this? So, what’s supposed to happen is happening. And I just wish I had more hours in the day to watch it happen.
Katie: The role we kind of played to is since we meet everyone before they join, and we learn their story and kind of why they’re looking for this woman’s network and why they want to work with women. So, our role as well is to start connecting them. We’ve had several different people come in in their businesses and they you know, want to start their own company or they’re somewhere in their company and they’re looking to take it to the next level. And there’s been so many times that we, because we know everyone we’ve been like, we know the exact person to go to she’s right down the hallway. And we’ve seen some really cool relationships form.
Leisa: Makes a lot of sense here, but what about larger organizations or groups with employees? Are you ready to handle that?
Stephanie: In the beginning it was definitely tailored to either entrepreneurs, freelancers, women in sales that traveled about the city and just needed a place for an hour or two during the day between appointments. But the pandemic has changed everything. And not just temporarily. I think when we hit the one-year mark, all the big companies are re-evaluating the way they work. They’re not renewing leases. And it’s not just temporary, it’s permanent going forward. And so now we see these people coming in; my company isn’t going back, I’m still working for them, I’m still employed, but I can’t work at home full-time anymore. It’s like, it was great and now it just isn’t, but they’re just not productive.
And so, the demographic that is coming inside SheSpace is changing. It’s just expanding. It’s expanding. So, we didn’t see that coming because it wasn’t a pandemic. But that’s also fun to watch because then now they are now intermingling with women that are kind of doing their own thing. And you’re seeing some women thinking and reevaluating where they are. Katie actually has a corporate background,
Leisa: She could easily roll into that.
Katie: Absolutely, I would have loved, I came from a corporate background. I worked with primarily men. And I went through having kids, being a young female in a predominantly male environment. And it definitely would have been really nice having something like this where I could have you know, kept that job, but still had a little bit more of a female group around me to help me through different transitions that we go through as women.
Leisa: If you end up getting larger groups, is there expansion here? Would you build out next door or something?
Stephanie: Yes. We did design this to build out into the space next door. So, we’ll see. No promises but high expectations. So, something else that we do here at SheSpace is really pay attention to the way women live their daily lives. And so, we did move our space out of like this stereotypic coworking space areas, which would be other office areas where you’re actually in a retail shopping center. Which is different. Because we looked at the way women live their lives. So, we are next to a grocery store and the gas station and the ATM and the nail salon. And we’re like two steps away from Target. And most important thing is for right off the highway. And we have a lot of parking because we value women’s time too much to have them driving around, looking for a parking space. Because we feel like if it’s not outside of SheSapce, it’s inside SheSpace. And that is why we have exercise here. Because we feel all women need to stay healthy.
Leisa: Absolutely. So, there are so many amenities here. Of course, my favorite, when you say work out at work, I love that old concept. So, I want to know everything you have, but what beyond that? What else are you doing for women?
Katie: We’re doing quite a bit. Something I’m very passionate about, as I have two young girls is offering childcare to women, mothers, young mothers. So, we do, we partnered with the motherhood center and we’ll be the summer offering some childcare options. For people, including myself. We think when the kids are out of school, that a lot of these entrepreneurs, you carry the burden of finding childcare during the summer months, which can be very expensive and very hard to come by. So, we’re looking forward to getting that started this summer. I know my kids will be in attendance.
Leisa: They are your very own guinea pigs.
Katie: Yeah right.
Stephanie: So, it’s short term. So, it’s not like a full-time childcare, but we’re really excited as like, like in childcare falls through and you have this meeting and what do you do? Usually, the women would have to cancel. And so, we are doing everything we can to give them quality affordable daycare so that they can keep progressing in their professional lives, which will keep them happy and content in their personal lives.
Leisa: Okay. So how do I use SheSpace?
Katie: We have several different membership levels. So, starting from a private office, dedicated desk or a community space. And if you’re not quite sure yet we have packages where you can buy starting at four days, you can come in and test out the space. It’s a smaller fee. You don’t have to sign on to a monthly fee yet.
Stephanie: But they always end up signing on to a monthly. So, it’s by membership.
Leisa: So, I have two more questions. The first one, what’s your web address?
Katie: It’s www.SheSpaceHTX.com.
Leisa: I love that idea because now you can do DTX if you want and ATX know all of that. Do you think there are some women we should interview for women in business here?
Stephanie: I think it could be like the feeder program for you. I mean, there are so many.
Leisa: We can just set our studio up here. Great background. Thank you both so much.
Katie: Thank you Leisa.
Stephanie: Thank you for so many things.
Leisa: Thank you both so much. I’m your host, Leisa Holland-Nelson and you’ve been watching Women Mean Business with my special guests, Stephanie and Katie Tsuru here in Houston at SheSpace. See you again soon.
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