Carly Thompson-Barry is an ambitious woman, with a track record of business management and study that speaks for itself. However, she knows she’s not alone in her drive.
“Women starting their own business is a more common occurrence than ever before,” she says. Even more are working from home, juggling motherhood and running a business. It’s got its perks, but of course it’s also got its downsides. It can be tricky to balance work with family, and it can be incredibly isolating; two things that suppress innovation.”
Enter Sass Place; born out of Carly’s recognition of the lack of support for home business women, it aims to create an environment of solidarity and collaboration.
With access to co-working spaces, boardroom and workshop facilities, professional development events, and an on-site crèche, Sass Place is a community for like-minded women in any profession.
“When you’ve got people in the same place, not only are they supporting each other, but they’re sharing ideas and working together, and that sort of thing just doesn’t happen if you’re only working from home,” says Carly.
A self-professed perfectionist, Carly drew upon her own experiences working from home with her husband as co-owners of personal training company Step Into Life to bring Sass Place to life.
She believes women approach business very differently to men, and bring perspective that can often be overlooked.
“Women sometimes feel that their ideas and opinions aren’t taken as seriously in a predominantly male office situation,” says Carly. “In a female-only environment, they are much more open to sharing concepts and feel their input is valuable. Women are passionate about supporting other women. It’s as simple as that.”
Of course, starting up a new business, especially a single gendered one doesn’t come without its hurdles. The female focus proved a challenge from a marketing point of view, and Sass Place struggled to access government grants and sponsors.
However, Carly never saw the complications as anything more than speed bumps, taking it upon herself to learn how to code and build a website, and how to book keep.
“As much as it sucked in some ways, I’m glad I wasn’t able to access a lot of funding and had to learn these things myself, because now I can use those skills to mentor these businesswomen and relate to them,” Carly explains.
“Sass Place may not have gone into that mentoring side of it if I never had to learn those skills, and you have a real appreciation of how hard it can be to start a business and of the role everyone plays in a business.”
Now, Sass Place is a thriving physical and online community that is only set to get bigger with the opening of another co-working space at Westfield West Lakes; a project Carly can barely contain her excitement about.
“Westfield approached us about opening there, and we’d seen a similar thing done in San Francisco to great success,” Carly says.
“Opening in a such a large retail centre means all the amenities needed are in one spot, and it can give businesses who work in Sass Place great exposure and have the backing of a company like Westfield behind them.”
Projects such as the West Lakes location are only the tip of the iceberg for Carly, who envisions Sass Place locations across Adelaide and more collaborations with larger organisations.
“Sometimes grassroots, at-home businesses get overlooked in favour of flashier, “tech type” startups,” says Carly. “Women have such potential and so much to contribute that if we can foster that, it could be incredible for the whole state. We’re changing the way women work together, and that can only be a brilliant thing.”
Sass Place operates co-working spaces at three locations; Parkside, Seaton and West Lakes. For more information, and to find out what is coming up across these locations visit the Sass Place website, or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.