As a writer and editor, I often find myself tucked away from the world, or else submersed in it anonymously at my neighborhood coffee shop. But wouldn’t it be awesome to abandon that loneliness and anonymity and work around other creatives in a unique, inspiring space?
Where do I sign up, right?
Well, I’ve found such a place. And instead of going to Seattle or San Francisco or Portland, I found it in Lakeland, Fla. Last weekend, I had the awesome opportunity to tour Catapult Lakeland, a beautiful coworking space from the Lakeland Economic Development Council. I also had the privilege of hanging out with the designers and entrepreneurs who make up Lakeland’s creative network.
If you haven’t been paying attention to the city between Tampa and Orlando, well—you’re missing out. Small enough to have a community feel but large enough to offer a lot of business opportunity, Lakeland’s carving a place for itself as the next Big Thing. And now, sitting in the stripped and redesigned basement of the Bank of America Building is a place for entrepreneurs, self-starters and creatives to work and network.
The base fee to get you through Catapult’s door is $50 per month, which includes 24/7 access to the space. A higher fee gets you a personal desk, and after that is a semi-private office designed to your specifications for $250. And the design is the fun part.
The second I walked down Catapult’s stairs, I knew who must have designed the space—their aesthetic is all over it. My favorite entrepreneurial couple, Robyn Wilson and Jarrid Masse, also known as the duo behind the beignet and chicory coffee booth, The Poor Porker. I wasn’t on the Catapult design committee, but if I were, they would have been my first picks, too.
Catapult Lakeland is full of hand-built furniture, refurbished wood, stocked bookshelves and chalkboard walls. The coffee table is made of a wire base with resin overtop and pressure gauges suspended in the resin. Strings of bulbs hang down through rusted grates to create the light fixtures. And there’s a living mural on the wall by the stairs, right under a wide skylight that floods the place with natural rays.
And the conference room? Forget about it. Handmade wooden tabletop and thrifted clear chairs and a huge, root-like centerpiece mounted above a dry-erase wall. Robyn told me one of Catapult’s members who’s a photographer brings clients there and gets booked every single time.
Seriously, guys. I’m a writer and I feel like my words are failing to describe this place. It’s awesome. And everywhere you turn is another entrepreneur with a cool story to tell or a cool business idea to pitch—from photographers to writers to graphic designers to beer brewers.
Catapult goes to show that amazing things are happening everywhere. You just have to know where to look—and know how to recognize it once you’ve found it.