By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
There’s a good deal of conversation going on in the Knoxville community about co-working space. Recently, Rob Laliberte decided to take the conversation to the next level, launching something called Unison Creative.
There are a variety of models for co-working spaces. Some are generic, welcoming anyone such as Spark Plaza in Johnson City. Others tend to focus on a specific type of activity. The latter is where Unison Creative plays.
Laliberte describes his vision for the site as “focused workspace” in a 6,000 square foot, two-story building on the edge of downtown and the Old City.
“One of the ways we are really different is that we have a target goal,” he says. “We know who we are trying to reach.”
Laliberte’s target customers are designers, photographers and professional artists who will benefit from working collaboratively. The location is a building at 808 Magnolia Avenue where the street intersects with Hall of Fame Drive.
“I worked for the last nine months to identify the best area,” Laliberte said. He wanted to find a location that was close to downtown, but in an area not fully developed and not as expensive as a downtown location would be in his view.
With the location selected and the concept understood, Laliberte has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $15,000. He has until near midnight on May 13 to raise the amount.
“We are a pretty lean start-up,” Laliberte says in describing Unison Creative. “We are doing everything we can to make this (the co-working space) happen as soon as possible.” The Kickstarter campaign will help expedite the build out of the two floors.
On the project’s webpage, Laliberte notes that “communities are powerful, and we want to support and offer space for artists and designers to create their best work and do more together. We want to be part of celebrating creativity in the community and focus on building deeper, more engaging experiences for all.”
The building will include seven- by 10-foot studios, a café, meeting rooms, and event space.
“We are finalizing what the studios will look like,” Laliberte says. The studios and workshop space will be downstairs.
“We’ve got a lot of potential,” he believes. “We want to keep things as lean as possible to allow as many people as possible to participate.”
The project aligns very well with Laliberte’s personal and professional interests. He’s a designer and illustrator who more recently founded a company called WDWRK Small Wares Co.
Those interested in learning more can contact Laliberte at email@example.com.