When Brandon and Mallory Still moved to Clarkston three years ago, Brandon was working remotely full time for a sales and marketing consulting company in Mount Clemens.
It wasn’t long before he realized doing his job at home wasn’t going to be viable over the long term. What he wanted was a co-working space convenient to his new Clarkston home.
But there weren’t any.
“I had worked in co-working spaces before in downtown Detroit,” Brandon says. “So I met up with some other people in the area who also worked from home and asked if they would want to co-work, and they said yes.”
That was all he needed. The Stills began looking for a suitable space in Clarkston to accommodate co-working and ended up finding a vacant antique store. In the heart of downtown, it was located on Main Street in a former carpenter shop dating back to the 1870s.
The previous owners had retired and sold the building, and now the new owner had it listed for sale. The Stills found the building in November 2018 and in January 2019, they opened Main Street MI.
“We were looking for a space that had a lot of character, and this being in downtown Clarkston, it had a lot of historic characteristics,” Brandon says. “The layout really lent itself to co-working.”
On Main Street
The Main Street MI location in downtown Clarkston, known as “21” for its 21 N. Main address, features an open concept floor plan with warm hardwood floors, common areas that include a full kitchen and four private offices upstairs that used to be residential apartments.
“It has a great feel and character to it,” Brandon says. “People can bring their lunch in and really be here all day.”
Since the beginning of the year, Main Street MI has signed 15 memberships, with seven currently active.
“We’ve been pleasantly surprised,” Brandon says. “There is kind of a hidden community of people in Clarkston who work from home, either working remotely or running small businesses from home.”
Natalee Hessell is one of those people, operating the wellness-focused Connective Resource Healing out of Main Street MI.
“I think any time we as a community can help each other grow and provide a service to Clarkston, that is the largest win-win,” Hessell says.
Chloe Foster, owner of the brand and identity design company Chloe Arielle Design, says she appreciates the opportunity to collaborate and network that co-working spaces provide.
“Good design isn’t created in a vacuum, so it is important to me to have a place where I can go to be out in the world, seeing new things and meeting new people,” she says. “This is part of why I searched for a co-working space rather than just an office space.
“I like Main Street MI because it allows me the opportunity to get out of the house and have an office space, but it is still close to home, so I don’t have to spend valuable time sitting in traffic.”
Main Street MI memberships are flexible, with different levels available that range from day passes to monthly commitments. Memberships are all-inclusive, with access to all amenities regardless of duration. No contract is required for the monthly membership — members choose to renew, or not, on a month-to-month basis. Brandon says that individuals who need to put on a presentation or host a meeting use the day passes more often; though the spaces are not private, they can accommodate small groups.
“That’s one of the beauties of co-working,” he says. “People can start and stop whenever they need to.
“One woman has started and stopped twice; she just comes in when she’s busy. That’s what we’re here for: being flexible.”
Since he started working on Main Street MI, Brandon left his job to launch his own business development coaching company for early-stage businesses and entrepreneurs called Eskywell. He runs it out of the Main Street MI Clarkston office.
Meanwhile, Brandon has introduced a second location in a retro space with a 1970s aesthetic called 70s on 7th in Pontiac. He’s about to open a third in a historic old barn called simply “The Barn” in Lake Orion. He hopes to expand even more, particularly in smaller towns where no such spaces exist.
“Bigger places like Royal Oak and Detroit have a handful of co-working spaces already,” he says, “but the smaller towns don’t have a lot of resources for freelancers or other people who work from home.”