Local group takes steps to get space downtown
Andie Hines believes women thrive not just when they’re networking, but when they’re working around other women.
She plans to create a space in Fort Wayne where they can do just that.
“I think that women generally speaking are looking for community,” said Hines, founder and director of Own Your Success. “There’s been a lot of research around the fact that one of the things that helps women succeed is a small, physical community.”
Own Your Success has filed paperwork to formally become recognized as a not-for-profit. Hines said the organization has more than 430 members, and she hopes to offer space downtown in Lincoln Tower that would include dedicated desks, conference space and co-working space for women entrepreneurs.
She thinks women-owned businesses are a “well-kept secret” and having a cluster could inspire others.
“It’s the kind of leading by example,” Hines said last week.
She already has a name in mind for the space: The Hummingbird at Lincoln Tower.
The hummingbird icon is the profile photo for the public Facebook page connected to Own Your Success. The group also has a private page for members.
Hines has her own marketing and events firm in Fort Wayne, Red Tree, that has about 90 clients. Around the time she started the business, Hines also reached out to invite 16 women to lunch for networking. About 30 showed up, she said, because some of the women she asked to attend extended an invitation to others.
That was symbolic, she said, of the interest women have in learning from other females.
“It’s just grown like crazy from there,” Hines said, noting the group still has regular lunches to “learn, network, communicate, commiserate, whatever the need would be.”
The co-working concept isn’t new to Fort Wayne. Another nonprofit called Start Fort Wayne, launched in 2015, runs The Atrium downtown on West Berry Street.
The Atrium is for male and female entrepreneurs. Founder and board chairman Dave Sanders said he’s content with the gender mix but has no qualms about co-working spaces for women. He said “they’re going to get their best work done if they’re in a space that they’re comfortable.”
The Atrium has more than 100 members, representing about 80 companies. Sanders estimates at least 30 percent, perhaps up to 40 percent, of The Atrium’s business is from women entrepreneurs.
“I think we have plenty of female members and the ones we have are fine with the space we have,” he said.