Empowering women to grow their businesses is Tracey Mate’s job. As executive director of Thirty-One Gifts, a direct sales company that offers trendy purses, totes and accessories, Mate has 380 independent consultants on her team.
And, after three years running the business out of her Monroe residence, Mate needed more space.
“I had people dropping by all of the time and sometimes I was meeting them while I was still in my pajamas,” said Mate, laughing.
Realizing there must be other entrepreneurs such as herself, Mate opened the Center for Collaborative Women, a business center where recruiting and training sessions could take place.
Decorated in Thirty-One Gifts’ signature colors — bright pink, black and white — the 1,300-square-foot space is on the second floor of Gaslight Square on Monroe Turnpike. Inspiring slogans will be placed strategically throughout the interior.
“It’s very girly,” Mate said. “I wanted to have a clean, comfortable place for people to come to work.”
Workshops to meeting space
Along with renting out the facility on weekdays, Mate plans to host workshops for the public on Saturdays and Sundays.
There are two white leather couches, with purple throw pillows, placed near the center’s entrance. This area could be used for informal meetings with clients, Mate suggested.
Larger group presentations could easily be accommodated at oblong tables set up in the middle of the room.
However, Mate emphasizes that all of the furniture is mobile and could be reconfigured to meet the needs of any organization.
Different membership levels
General membership to the Center for Collaborative Women is $31 per month. This allows members to use the common space, complimentary wifi, dry kitchen (microwave, refrigerator and coffee maker), and audio visual equipment.
For $200 per month, members may reserve desk work-stations that offer more privacy for one-on-one meetings. In addition to the general membership amenities, the work-station fee also includes a locked shared storage closet where confidential files may be stored.
There is a three-month minimum membership requirement.
Additionally, business owners may purchase a one-square-foot space — called a cube — for advertising at the center, where product samples, marketing brochures and business cards may be placed.
“We expect, when fully up and running, to have at least 100 women through the center each month,” Mate said. “Our goal is to have 25 advertisers, 35 to 50 drop-in members, three desk renters, and eight events per month.”
And, in keeping with her initial motivation for opening the center, Mate plans to use the business center to try to expand her own business, Thirty-One Gifts.
Home for knitters
Diane Kapoor of Monroe has been leading Purl Girls knitting classes at local art studios and yarn store for a decade, and now is happy to have a “home” at the Center for Collaborative Women.
Kapoor has reserved space on a few different mornings for her Knitting with Diane groups. She said some of the local knitters have been with her for several years.
“This is a great space,” Kapoor said. “It’s like a home away from home. We are able to get away from all of our stresses and tension and collaborate together.”
An added bonus to gathering at the center is that the female knitters are able to see what other women in the community are doing, Kapoor said.
Mate is thrilled to have Kapoor’s group join the center. “This is the perfect example of the groups I want coming through here,” Mate noted.
Other business uses
Other businesses that have used the center include wellness coaches, direct sales marketers, crafters, and healthcare professionals who teach certification courses.
Mate lives in Monroe with her husband, Glen, a career firefighter in Guilford and a member of the Monroe Volunteer Fire Department. They have three children.
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