By Rick Pender
Tamara Schwarting has landed at the intersection of life, business, passion and art with her new business for Cincinnati.
Described as an “environment of culture and elegance,” 1628 Ltd., at 11 Garfield Place, downtown, is a space for “curated co-working.”
Schwarting’s passion these days is to educate professionals about co-working. “Many people think it’s about sharing a job. That’s not our model. This is a shared work environment. We do things differently, focusing on professionals looking for a refined environment with support service to enhance their productivity.”
Virginia native Schwarting moved to Ohio in 2000 as a clinical data manager with Procter & Gamble. She rose through various positions and departments, eventually taking on responsibilities as a purchasing manager, often redesigning supply chains for major brands. In 2015, ready for a change, Schwarting left P&G to become an independent purchasing consultant.
But she missed the camaraderie of a collaborative workplace. A home office and meetings in coffee shops didn’t suit her. She needed more, and thought other mid-career executives working on their own might feel the same. That led her to create 1628, a membership concept that opened in November.
“I wanted community, a traditional albeit modern environment,” Schwarting said. “Not for dialogue, but for familiarity and being around people. That’s what I’ve created. The number of people identifying as professionally independent is growing exponentially. Having a place where you can be effective is essential, where you can work with a variety of clients and partners.”
Members of 1628 have access to a workspace, to conference rooms, as well as productivity tools, such as printers, whiteboards, teleconferencing, etc.
1628 is not an address. In fact, the business’s numerical name is intended as a catalyst for conversation. Schwarting points to 1628 as the year “co-working” first appeared in print. The events of Alexandre Dumas’ historical novel “The Three Musketeers” occurred in 1628, and the oldest educational institution in North America, The Collegiate School in New York City, was founded that year. The sum of the four digits is 17, “a prime number and an indivisible outlier,” she said. “Our name is meant to evoke a sense of history and place, but more than that, it invites our members to question complacency and satisfaction, to instead push towards excellence in everything they do.”
Co-working spaces exist in other cities, but Schwarting is working to redefine the concept. “We focus on service and hospitality.” It’s meant to be more than a place to work. “We are about building relationships and creating a space for people who, for whatever reason, have exited corporate America or built their personal business to a point that they need a professional environment. Our solution fits consultants doing business with Cincinnati’s downtown corporations. We’re walkable to all of them.”
1628’s members might come from beyond Cincinnati with a corporate base elsewhere. 1628 can be their local office. “They get all the efficiency of having an office without the headache of maintaining it,” Schwarting said.
The aesthetically conceived atmosphere resembles a boutique hotel. The staff function as concierges, providing services – including dinner reservations, arranging transportation to the airport and so on – so members can focus on work. “We take away all the noise and the chaos,” Schwarting said. “Small tasks can be resource-draining and time-intensive.”
1628 has established a partner network of local vendors that offer discounts and preferred pricing. Also, members can use the space for personal or professional events – board meetings, fundraisers and so on.
Branding strategist Ben Greenberg helped Schwarting conceive 1628. These Over-the-Rhine neighbors became acquainted at a neighborhood coffee shop. He helped establish and define 1628’s brand. Then Greenberg realized that, for him and business partner Sebastien Hue, a co-working space was “the exact kind of thing we would want to use.”
“There was always this hassle of where to go for meetings,” he said. “Since we’ve been members at 1628, it’s been fantastic to invite people we’re working with to this space. Everything is taken care of, whether it’s drinks or lunch or really fast wi-fi. It’s improved every aspect of our business.”
Revolving, curated artwork
Artwork throughout 1628’s two floors of sleek, high-tech conference rooms, open space and casual seating inspires creative activity. “Regardless of your profession,” Tamara Schwarting says, “you can come up with creative solutions and ideas when you’re surrounded by evocative, inspiring works of art.”
Assisting Schwarting in choosing 1628’s aesthetic décor is Wave Pool, a two-year-old Cincinnati nonprofit art gallery that integrates contemporary art into daily life. Cal Cullen, Wave Pool’s executive director, established a loan program enabling businesses to rent art from local artists.
1628 was Wave Pool’s initial corporate client. Cullen says, “We met and she looked through the artists and artworks that we deal with regularly.” Schwarting had clear ideas about what she liked. “She was a great first client for us,” says Cullen, “because she likes a lot of diverse things. She steered us in a direction that was right for her space.”
Works by three artists were chosen for 1628’s opening months, on display with some of Schwarting’s permanent collection of art.
Cullen will curate changing art on a quarterly basis. An upcoming quarter will feature award-winning works from the Art Academy of Cincinnati’s collection. “They’ve got all this great work,” Cullen says, “but it doesn’t get seen unless people go to the Art Academy. A lot of it is in offices, hidden from the public. Getting it out in the world is another win-win situation – good for the Art Academy, good for the artists, good for business.”