ITHACA, N.Y. — A new business in Ithaca is bringing people together in a unique space. Foundry, located in the Printing Press building on East State Street, is a co-working space by day, a workshop with creative classes some evenings, and event space on occasion, too.
Foundry is tucked back at 416 E. State St., next to Argos Inn. Inside, it’s airy and open and as they describe it, “the perfect balance of Upstate industrial charm combined with a modern build-out.” The space is geared toward people who work remotely or own their own businesses, said Elizabeth Thompson, co-manager and head of workshops at Foundry.
“They can get out of their house, they can meet other people, they can be surrounded by other people,” she said. “So, a working space is definitely bringing a whole sense of community to their day-to-day lives.”
They offer a range of memberships to people starting at $150 per month. Depending on the membership, people can have a shared or individual desk month to month, or just rent it daily or weekly.
Co-working spaces and collaborative community environments have gained some momentum in recent years. They offer productive environments for people who may work remotely, own a small business, or work independently. Amber Robson, co-manager and head of events, said changing business models have called spaces like Foundry into existence.
“There’s a lot of individuality, and so with that, everyone is branching out and running their own businesses,” Robson said. “You get a lot of isolation, and people going in on their own path, and you really do need these big conglomerates to home everyone and bring everyone back in together.”
Thompson said the space is supportive in the sense that people from different types of businesses, like business growth consultants and tech companies, get to know each other and give each other advice. She also said it was a way for small businesses to save money on renting a full office.
“I’d say especially when you’re starting up a business, it can be expensive to have your own office,” Thompson said. “This is a way to get out of the house and into a professional environment without having the upfront costs of having a space all to yourself.”
Businesses with similar workspace models in the area include the Ithaca Generator and Rev. The Generator focuses on workspaces devoted to tools and wood- and metal-crafting. Rev supports startups through its workspace, resources and mentorship.
Some evenings and off-hours, a side room turns into a place to learn or hone crafts. On Wednesday, July 10, about a dozen people gathered around a large wooden conference table scattered with tools and gold and silver wire as they learned to make hoop earrings. Thompson, who is the artist behind Elizabeth Knight Jewelry, led Wednesday’s workshop. Classes will be led by different local artists, makers and foodies.
Robson said the workshops give local artists a chance to spread their art without the formality of a public speaking event.
“It’s all these really cool local talents that we have that we get to pull from and expose them to other people, whereas normally they wouldn’t get that platform to share and give everyone a taste of (their skills) themselves,” she said.
At a recent class, attendees created a stained glass suncatcher and learned to cut, ground and foil the glass. The workshop was taught by Stacie Ratzkin, who is the owner of and artist for Forest City Stained Glass. Upcoming classes will cover making macrame plant hangers, stamped rings, leather wallets and botanical resin bracelets, to name a few.
Thompson said a difference in the arts community in her previous home of Brooklyn and Ithaca’s arts community is that there isn’t a central place to work and learn from other artists. “With the large sense of creativity that’s happening in Ithaca, I haven’t found a lot of hubs to be able to meet people,” Thompson said. “I thought we could use that here.”
All images by Kelsey O’Connor/Ithaca Voice.