Coworking in the Pearl District
By EMILY RAMSEY
CREATIVITY AND COMMUNITY: Christine Sharp-Crowe and Thom Crowe stand in The Workshop at Made, 1317 E. 6th St., a coworking space for professionals and makers. The Crowes opened the space in the Pearl District in September.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
Creativity has long been in the heart of Christine Sharp-Crowe, co-founder and co-owner of Indie Emporium craft show and Made: The Indie Emporium Shop.
Sharp-Crowe attended San Francisco’s Academy of Art, with dreams of becoming an interior designer. However, after a few years, she shifted her plans and took the information she gained from a screen printing class to begin her own business, designing and creating screen printed tea towels.
After attending The Girlie Show in Oklahoma City, she knew that she wanted to bring a similar show to Tulsa, highlighting artists who create handmade items, called “makers.” She and her husband, Thom Crowe, created the craft show Indie Emporium in 2007.
Five years later, they opened Made: The Indie Emporium Shop in downtown Tulsa in the Philcade Building. A second location in the Pearl District followed nine months later. When Made’s next-door neighbor, the Creative Room, which had served in various capacities including as a coworking space and performance venue, closed in August 2014, the Crowes saw their chance to expand their focus. In September, they took over the Creative Room and opened The Workshop at Made, 1317 E. 6th St., a shared working space for professionals and makers.
However, when asked if Sharp-Crowe ever envisioned herself as an owner of four enterprises, one of which being a coworking space, she would most likely respond with a thoughtful look and a shake of her head.
While the business may not have been in her plans, she admits, “I’ve always wanted a maker space. I get really inspired by people working together and making things.”
Crowe, on the other hand, has always been interested in opening a co-working space, he says. The Workshop allows Crowe and Sharp-Crowe to blend their ideas of a shared working space for professionals and artists.
The Workshop, located in the same building as Made, could not have been better suited for them.
For one reason, the Pearl District provides the best environment for fledgling artists, says Crowe.
The Crowes first recognized the Pearl District’s potential back in 2011, during Tulsa’s Young Professionals’ 2011 StreetCred event Polishing the Pearl, where Sharp-Crowe first opened Made as a temporary boutique.
“StreetCred caused us to fall in love with the Pearl,” says Crowe. “The feel during StreetCred was very pedestrian friendly, with a very local focus.
“We thought that this is the Tulsa we wanted to be in.”
When the Crowes were looking for a larger, second Made location in mid-2012, they made the Pearl their permanent home.
While many might envision coworking spaces to be better suited in downtown Tulsa, The Workshop’s dual focus of fostering artists and providing space for professionals makes the Pearl District the best location, says Crowe.
“The Pearl District is an area that has more of a small business focus and is more for less- established artists,” he says.
The Crowes’ goal is to provide whatever an artist or professional needs to work, which mostly means space. The Workshop is approximately 1,800 square feet with a large amount of that devoted to working spaces, including a conference table, desks, a sitting area with couches and window seat (sans the window), and a coffee area complete with a water cooler that heats water to the best temperature for brewing coffee, notes Crowe. “A lot of the people who come here are coffee nerds. That’s one thing we all have in common.”
The Workshop also provides the Crowes an area to finally put much of the machinery and artist equipment they have been accumulating over the years, including looms, a screen printing press, woodworking equipment and hopefully a soon-to-come letterpress, says Sharp-Crowe.
Fortunately, the layout of the space can be changed depending on the needs of the individuals.
For example, when Be Love Yoga’s building recently experienced plumbing problems, the Crowes allowed The Workshop to be turned into a weekend yoga studio.
The space is also utilized by out-of-town workers, self-employed individuals, groups in need of a meeting place and individuals hosting events, such as Cultivate 918 and 1 Million Cups.
“The cool thing about having a blank space area is you can be flexible, and the space can become whatever is needed,” says Crowe.
That includes fostering Tulsa’s creative community. “We want to be a hub for the creative community, for people working on novels, poetry, painting, anyone working with their hands,” says Crowe.