Last week CoLo spent sometime working out of the lovely Bridge Street Collective. The Collective is Nelson’s only coworking space, a tight knit community of creatives, entrepreneurs & small businesses. We were lucky enough to sit down with Christine Donaldson the spaces studio manager.
Tell us a little a bit about The Bridge Street Collective?
The Bridge Street Collective was founded in 2011, in sunny Nelson New Zealand by Galen King. Galen is a well respected community driven innovator, with a strong goal to build upon and develop the Nelson creative & tech scene. Setting up a space like the Collective has allowed the Nelson community to really come out of the woodwork, sparking collaboration between groups of people and creating connections that may not have happened without the space.
Who are the people involved in BSC?
Myself, my role is the studio & community manager then Galen the Founder who now resides in New York City. Then our loyal account manager Mark, a superhuman! We’re a small space and ready to expand in the near future. Right now though, the dynamic in the space is great, the community are a close-knit bunch, and I feel connected to all of the residents - it’s something special.
What’s the story behind BSC?
Galen was working out of Golden Bay and was facing the loneliness of working from home. Feeling isolated, he came to the realisation that the region needed a place for people like himself to come together. Coworking was still a relatively new concept back then, and introducing a space in Nelson in 2011 was an example of his innovative thinking. He bought the building on one of the main streets (Bridge Street) and begun the hard work of renovating thee once tired and dated interior. A lot of thought and energy went into the build. Transforming the once enclosed interior to an open-plan space was first on the cards. Then the development of custom built areas that cater to different working styles and preferences. From meeting rooms, social areas, private desks, the whole build was considered with coworking in mind.
What are some lessons you’ve learnt from the coworking movement?
There’s definitely a strong difference between coworking compared to shared offices for example. Coworking is community and people driven. As a community manager, I take pride in evaluating the diverse range of humans the coworking movement has attracted. How I can help them grow or establish their ideas, who I can connect them with etc. Coworking has changed the way I think about businesses, it’s super powerful in the way it can connect people who may not have crossed paths outside these walls. A quote from one our members; “On a daily basis we have the ability to engage with people who, if we worked out of our own office, we just wouldn’t meet.”
What do you think coworkers expect today that they didn’t before?
From what I can say from managing the collective is at the start, majority of people came in just looking for a place to work, a desk away from their home office, with the goal of changing up their working environment, and boosting productivity. Now, the people coming through the doors, they have a desire for that human to human connection and to become a part of a community. They crave meetups, and the network opportunities that the coworking movement offers. I see Nelson as a city evolving really quickly in regards to the small businesses and startups it’s producing. It makes sense for us to move with the movement, providing the people what they need to keep them in the region.
What are your top 3 tips for new coworking space operators
Tip one: Don’t worry about all the little details, these will fall into place. Forget the infrastructure and focus on the community and the humans in the space.
Tip two: Coffee, keeps everyone happy! A reliable and fast internet connection is a must.
Tip three: Make sure the space operator, or person in front of your members is a people person and passionate about coworking. They need to be driven and be able to cast that vision out to the wider community.
Describe coworking in 3 words?
Dynamic, innovative and… FUN!
Help Christine get to GCUC Melbourne, GCUC is the world’s largest coworking conference and The Bridge Street Collective is determined to go! Show your support here, every little helps!
Link to GiveALittle GCUC: https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/bigdreamsforlittlenelson