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Entrepreneur Opens Town’s First Coworking Space

By Jon Kawamoto East Bay Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The Co-working craze continues to boom. Entrepreneur Amy Schofield shares what inspired her to open up her community's first co-working space called "Commons Place."

MORAGA

Amy SchofielBeauty frome running her cosmetics business Mixify Beauty from the neighborhood coffee shop -- which didn't offer the right working environment.

"As a business owner myself, my only option to work outside of my home was the local coffee shop," said Schofield, a Moraga resident. "I found the coffee shop too noisy and working from home so isolating. A meeting with multiple people just isn't conducive in the local coffee shop. It was counterproductive being there."

So, she talked to friends and other entrepreneurs -- who shared the same feelings of isolation and frustration in working from home and in coffee shops -- and decided to open Moraga's first coworking space, Commons Place, 1042 Country Club Drive.

Commons Place offers an environment where local business people can meet, share experiences and be part of a collaborative community, Schofield said.

Commons Place has 12 desks in two working areas with a meeting room for up to six people. It also offers a small kitchen, a garden with fruits and vegetables, and Friday ice cream socials.

Currently, she said, five startups and two other people working for companies are using the site. The entrepreneurs include Mixify Beauty, Lights in the Stars, Girls Makers Market, Girls Crushing It and Viva Moraga, a citizens group that advocates for economic and commercial development in Moraga.

Schofield is involved with Viva Moraga.

Commons Place rents each desk for $350 a month with wi-fi, meeting room credits, a locker and outdoor meeting spaces. Meeting rooms are offered from $40 per hour, and a 10-day pass is available for $400, according to Schofield.

She said the response has been "very positive," with the Moraga Chamber of Commerce supporting the venture.

Schofield said that because of Commons Place, she has discovered a "hidden Moraga," which she described as a group of people working in isolation, including work-at-home parents and satellite employees for South Bay companies.

"Taking the step out to make Commons Place available has helped us connect and bring people out," she said. "It's been a positive experience."

She's also finding the demographics of Moraga and the greater Lafayette-Orinda-Moraga area changing and transitioning from an older community with retirees to an increasing number of young families attracted to the area because of the locale and schools.

"A whole bunch of people in Moraga are doing wonderful things," she said as part of her work for Viva Moraga. As an example, she pointed to Moraga-based Laughing Giraffe Organics, which specializes in organic, gluten-free snacks called Snakaroons and dried fruits. Laughing Giraffe Organics is housed in the same building as Commons Place, but the company is not part of the coworking space.

"Our goal is whoever goes to Commons Place outgrows us and moves on to bigger and better things," Schofield said.

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