Creating wedding niche coworking space for entrepreneurs not for the risk adverse

By Lisa Akinseye

Guest blogger


If opening a basic coworking space isn’t for the faint of heart, creating the first wedding niche coworking space in the Twin Cities is certainly not for someone who is risk adverse.


Yet Jody Winter did just that when she opened Cornerstone Studios in August, morphing a gutted building from 1905 with a storied past into the georgeous space it is today. She did a complete renovation and transitioned it into a magical wonderland for event professionals. 


According to a recent article in Allwork Space, Cat Johnson, a coworking industry writer and content strategist, coworking and niche spaces are the future of the workspace industry. In the next five years, over five million people will be coworking in 30,000 shared workspaces around the world.


I feel like I’m gushing, but when I met Jody last summer. I had just begun working with the owners of Evolve Workplace in West St. Paul, and WorkIt Coworking in the St. Paul Midway area, to create a Twin Cities Coworking Alliance. The intent was to bring independent and corporate shared space operators together in the collaborative spirit of coworking. The vision was to share best practices, as well as serving as a feeder amongst coworking spots, based on location and amenities, as well as client needs. 


Jody was one of the first to join in, even though she was pre-venture at the time. Soon we began having roving meetings, exploring a different space each month, and addressing the array of issues that come with ownership of unique spaces.


Jody’s space is perfectly designed for freelancers, independent professionals, startups and remote workers. Currently, the space hosts florists, calligraphers, a graphic designer, a few photographers, hair and makeup artists, and other wedding-oriented products and services, Winter will be expanding into the adjoining space in 2019 and is hopeful to draw in an officiate, wedding dress retailer, along with building out more private offices. 


After touring, I found myself wishing I was inclined to do something that fit within the niche, simply because the space is so incredibly cool, and oozes with productivity. The interior, designed by award-winning Jonathan Gomez Whitney with entrepreneurs in the wedding industry in mind, Cornerstone Studios offers an array of cozy and eclectic spaces that are perfect for meeting guests and clients alike. 


I’ve researched, worked in, and have done consulting for a variety of coworking spaces across the country. Not one of them has the vibe and polish of Cornerstone. The coolest thing is that there are several vignette spaces—there’s a high top bistro overlooking Central Avenue NE, and a lobby area flanked with an oversized mirror, distressed leather couch, and plush navy side chairs. 


The space flows smoothly, with a large raw plank “harvest” meeting table, a cozy booth space, and an ideal high ceilinged space for photographers. From the white pressed tin ceiling to the original hardwood floors, their designer made sure that everything feels enchanting. 


I could go on and on about the main floor, as well as the lower level, which even sports a massive work area, storage spaces, a private summertime garden level patio, as well as private office spaces. As the business grows, Winter said she is hoping to add a modified prep kitchen too.


I feel like Cornerstone is in its golden era—a best kept secret and more affordable than imaginable. It won’t be long before Twin Cities wedding professionals clamor to work from Cornerstone Studios. With 24/7 access, and memberships starting at under $200 a month, it’s hard NOT to justify moving away from a noisy neighborhood coffee shop, balancing a laptop on a steering wheel on the side of the road, or escaping the monotony of working and meeting clients at home.


I was excited when Jody shared that not only is her space available for private evening events, but they have their first wedding booked there next May. So what’s next? By spring, members are tentatively planning to host a set day each month, and making Cornerstone Studios into a drop-in, one stop “pop up” shop, where soon-to-be brides and grooms can come in and meet with a variety of vendors in a casual setting. The possibilities are endless.


If I were Jody, I’d likely buy a ticket to the next local Wedding Fair, arm myself with hundreds of business cards, and simply go from vendor to vendor, showcasing what a bargain it is to work there. I can’t think of any other office where there’s bottomless coffee and the opportunity to collaborate with others who provide complimentary wedding services. I’d happily spend $7 or $8 a day to work there and meet up with clients. It’s certainly less than my two-a-day habit at Starbucks or Caribou!


There’s also another perk that’s already in place. Jody is part of Proximity, a network of coworking spaces not only in the US, but in Canada and New Zealand as well.  By being a member of Cornerstone Studios, individuals automatically have access to any Proximity space for up to three days a month. This makes for the perfect working vacation, or local landing spot for members with clients across the Twin Cities metro, as members can request to access space at Cornerstone, Evolve, or WorkIt in advance, by having the owner or community manager notify the other location(s). Wow—talk about flexibility!


Just one more reason I’d love to call Cornerstone Studios my workday haven *sighs*. Maybe one day!


Lisa Akinseye I am a co-founder of Digital Amplifier Marketing (DAM). We build the cohesive identity, logo, and branding package you need. Then, we stay on as your single point of contact for ongoing digital marketing and content needs, such as blog posts, media kits, and other materials. We are DAM(n) good at Messenger Marketing and chat bot building too. In short, we make your business shine!