E-Bird Archive

E-Bird news items since July 2015

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Rowan Tree opens Herndon co-working space with  personal growth of women entrepreneurs in mind

Billing itself as "Herndon's first women-centered co-working and co-growth community," Rowan Tree cut the ribbon at its 3,000-square-foot facility on Tuesday with many representatives from its growing list of member-businesses on hand.

In fact, Rowan Tree is the first women-centered co-working location in Northern Virginia.

It was more celebration than business event, with excitement in the air about a location where local entrepreneurs can establish roots in concert with like-minded peers and do it at a place where work and business meetings intertwine with yoga, massage, art and conversation.

"A lot of co-working spaces are trying to define themselves and have a niche," said co-founder Amy Dagliano. "Our niche is that we're women-focused -- although all are welcome. 

"We really try to focus on the whole person and growth, so it's not only about getting work done but about professional development, personal development, creative workshops, wellness workshops. It's really about a place where all those pieces of your life are together in one spot so that people are not scrambling and running all over the place."

Dagliano and co-founder Kate Janich Viggiano, friends for 15 years, first talked about launching their business at a karaoke night. Their game plan took shape, in part, when they attended an Entrepreneurship 101: Starting a Business in Fairfax County workshop, presented by the FCEDA.

"We literally took the binder from that session, flipped through it and made sure we were following all the steps appropriately," Janich Viggiano said. "It provided us information like what type of corporation [to form], best practices and resources. It really gave us everything we needed to know and we went through it with a fine-tooth comb to get started."

Dagliano said initial research indicated a need for and interest in a women-focused co-working space. Rowan Tree had modest expectations of signing up 50 members in its first year. It already has 42 -- so many that it is pondering the possibility of opening a second location.

"The positive response was there when we started with popup events and built our community," Dagliano said. "People were ready, so we quickly had to find our space. We were fortunate to find a building that was already built out. All we really needed to do was add furniture, Wi-Fi and artistic touches. We signed our lease October 1 and were able to open before the end of December."

The two-level space at 280 Sunset Park Drive offers individual meeting rooms, quiet work rooms and open, communal work areas.

Meg Donnelly, a licensed massage therapist in Herndon, was among those immediately interested in -- as Town of Herndon Mayor Lisa Merkel put it -- keeping the "Her" in Herndon.

"When I met Kate and Amy you could really see their vision and how much they care about their members and the community," Donnelly said. "What I like is the way this place brings the community and networking to you. As small business owners, we spend a lot of time cultivating relationships and making sure we are a positive force in the community. Being able to kind of get all of that wrapped into one -- with the focus on growth and the workshops that you can attend as a member -- it was a no-brainer for me (to join)." 

"I've found it a way to connect with other entrepreneurs in a really welcoming space," said Jen Nowak of Mizz Mozaic, who crafted the Rowan Tree mosaic prominently on display. "I have a home office, but coming here enables me to bounce ideas off people in an awesome space that's pretty inspiring."

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust was among those attending Tuesday's ribbon cutting. "We appreciate the fact Rowan Tree chose Fairfax County to do business," he said. "Part of our strategic plan to diversify the county ecosystem is to attract and support startups, especially those of women and minorities. This kind of business is exactly what helps us achieve that goal."

Public participation encouraged

Hacks for housing: Fairfax County will hold a Housing Hackathon, January 24-25, inviting entrepreneurs, startups, nonprofits, established businesses and students to participate. The event is designed to solicit creative and innovative solutions and applications of data to address housing challenges that impact Fairfax County and northern Virginia. Cash prizes up to $3,000 will be awarded. George Mason University is a partner of the event being held at the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech's Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church next to the West Falls Church Metro Station.

Fairfax Connector feedback: The Fairfax County Department of Transportation will conduct public outreach meetings and an online survey to gather feedback about ways to improve Fairfax Connector bus service in the Herndon-Reston area, including connections to new Metrorail stations when Phase 2 of the Silver Line is complete. Interactive meetings are scheduled for January 26 at the Reston Community Center from 10 a.m. to noon and January 29 in the Herndon Middle School cafeteria from 6 to 8 p.m. (Snow date for both meetings is January 30 at Langston Hughes Middle School in Reston from 6 to 8 p.m.). To take the online survey, click here through February 15. The public is also invited to participate in an AskFairfax! online chat on February 5 from noon to 1 p.m. or participate in a Facebook Live event at @fairfaxconnector, January 22 at 3 p.m. or February 8 at noon.

All about drones: Fairfax County is developing a comprehensive Public Safety Unmanned Aircraft Systems program with input from residents. The county wants fire, police and other emergency personnel to be able to use drones to provide "an enhanced level of operational capability, safety and situational awareness for first responders, other approved participating agencies and decision-makers."

Public information meetings (including one tonight) offer opportunities to engage representatives from the Office of Emergency Management, county attorney's office, and police, fire and rescue departments. The schedule: January 16 -- South County Governmental Center (Room 221C), 8350 Richmond Highway, Alexandria; January 23 -- McLean District Governmental Center, 1437 Balls Hill Road, McLean; January 24 -- Sully District Governmental Center, 4900 Stonecroft Blvd, Chantilly; January 28 -- Reston Community Center (Hunter Woods), 2310 Colts Neck Road, Reston; January 30 -- Braddock Hall, Kings Park Library, 9002 Burke Lake Road, Burke. All sessions will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Best plans wanted: The county continues to seek ideas for development of 50 acres at the Workhouse Arts Center on Route 123 in Lorton. The county's goal is to create the first mixed-use arts campus here with cultural, educational, residential, commercial or other elements that complement the arts center's existing studio, gallery and museum spaces. Those with ideas should contact the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning prior to June 30.


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