A Wednesday afternoon at Stoke resembles your typical workspace. People sit inside offices, at large tables and in the kitchen area, on their computers doing whatever work they need to get done. While they share the same office space, however, they don’t all work for the same company or in the same field. One man is editing a video, another writing papers and another working on their article.
Stoke, located at 608 East Hickory St. Suite 128, was created three years ago by Denton’s Economic Department Partnership. The coworking space is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and helps entrepreneurs, remote workers, freelance workers and small businesses to grow their brand.
“We help provide resources and space for startups and small businesses be successful,” said Heather Gregory, executive director of Stoke. “Help the individuals to help create more jobs, to help people be successful, earn good living wages and help grow the economy of Denton. [We] help have a positive impact on the culture of Denton.”
Gregory said she wants people to know that Stoke is a resource if someone has an idea for a business but they do not know where to start.
“We can help you write a business plan, a marketing plan, [find] mentors, funding, education or other types of support for entrepreneurs,” said Gregory. “We have a diverse community here, there are a lot of opportunities to collaborate with each other and learn from other people.”
Stoke offers memberships in order to use the coworking space. For college students, they have a student membership rate and the discounted price is extended a year after a student graduates. There are different levels of membership at Stoke and they are based on how often a member would like to use the space. However, their “Dedicated” members have 24/7 access to the building and they have a dedicated desk.
Stoke has a daily mentorship hour from noon – 1 p.m. and there is a different mentor each day. It functions as an open office hour where the mentor sits at their desk and people can stop by and ask them questions. Gregory said this mentor hour is not exclusive to the members, so anyone can stop by and get help from the mentor.The services at Stoke include a professional space to work, conference rooms, resources, connections, mentorship, education, events and programs.
“If you have a roadblock, or a milestone that you are trying to hit, you can seek free guidance,” Gregory said.
Gregory said that 35 percent of their memberships come from their remote workers, who are people who work from anywhere. She said that remote work culture is growing.
Lauren Huber, a member at Stoke, is a remote worker in graphic design and she uses the space to get her work done. She said she prefers doing her work at Stoke rather than her home because she can focus more in the office and not have the distractions of working in her home.
“There are other benefits than just having the space — full kitchen, free coffee, free snacks, it’s nice,” Huber said. “Access to whatever program they are doing is almost always free for members and that provides network opportunities for professional development. I feel like you get quite a bit out of the membership.”
Stoke caters to other types of workers as well. Gregory said that there are traditional business workers, a small realtor team and engineers who also have memberships.
Rob Curran, a Stoke member, is a freelance journalist who utilizes the space to work on his articles. He used to work in a newsroom before moving to Denton as a freelance journalist. He said that he gets distracted trying to work from home because his home office is right next to the washing machine, so he can hear it going off.
“I came here in 2009,” Curran said. “Coming to Stoke was a way I wouldn’t spend the whole day in my sleep wear. It seemed healthier to come in and be social. Because I am freelance, if I am more productive, then I can make more money. So in theory, at least, that covers the cost.”
Huber said she likes that Stoke is in close proximity to the Square because there is access to many restaurants. Curran said that because Stoke is near the Square, they can also hear about other business and other events going on.
“It’s nice for me because I feel like I have a better sense of what’s going on in the town, just by proximity, so it’s really nice,” Huber said.
Gregory said Stoke is here to help anyone with an idea, those seeking help or anyone who needs a space to get their work done.
“Our saying is, bring your work, computer and yourself, we provide the rest and all the other details are handled,” Gregory said.
Featured Image: Stoke is a collaborative resource center for startup companies, remote workers and freelancers. They offer members access to resources like mentorship and networking events. Image by Bertha Smith