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Creative careers spark idea for co-working space in Sioux Center

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The Spark Creative co-working space in Sioux Center, Iowa

Jenni Ochsner and Jesse Brauning, founders of the Spark Creative, will celebrate a grand opening of the co-working space on Aug. 15.

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa | With one open space, two creative professionals see endless possibilities.

Ideas have been bouncing back and forth between the founders of the Spark Creative, a new co-working space located next to the Fruited Plain Café.

Jesse Brauning, owner of Paragon Videography, and Jenni Ochsner, owner of Jenni O Photography, operate home-based businesses but dreamed of having another place to work and meet with clients – somewhere inviting and inspiring, a place that encourages creativity away from the hustle and bustle of a coffee shop.

They couldn’t quite justify individually renting or owning a studio space and passing overhead costs onto clients. Opening a co-working space seemed like the perfect solution.

“It was blindingly obvious to me how much I needed a space like this,” Brauning said. “I live only a couple blocks away and have a home office as well. I have to meet with corporate clients occasionally ... Spark is an ideal place for that.”

He’s counting on other entrepreneurs being enticed by the ambiance, amenities and sense of community found within the shared workspace, which will celebrate a grand opening Aug. 15.

It’s been a booming business idea in big cities like San Francisco, New York and Chicago. Across the country, the number of co-working spaces has risen from 342 in 2011 to more than 850 last year, according to Deskmag, an online magazine that covers the co-working movement.

Diane Daby opened Springboard Coworking in Sioux City less than a year ago, providing a communal yet productive work environment to startups, freelancers and other career nomads.

Owners of the Spark Creative hope to attract a similar crowd to their collaborative studio.

“I used to live in Minneapolis and I was part of a very large women’s photography group up there. We’d get together, encourage each other, help each other, give advice, ask questions,” Ochsner said. “And that’s what we want to bring here. We want to tell all the other creatives here, we’re here to support you.”

Monthly membership rates range from $25 to $200. Day rates are available as well for entrepreneurs on the go.

Writers, painters, jewelry and cupcake makers have expressed interest in the multipurpose space. Their inquiries feed the flame of possibilities.

Brauning and Ochsner envision hosting a mix of public and private events, making the space a hub of creative activity. The chairs, table and sofa can be reconfigured to accommodate a film club, vendor fair or paint and sip party.

For Ochsner and other photographers, abundant natural light streaming through the window-lined storefront provides an ideal photo studio with an industrial feel.

The café next door also has an allure.

“If you’re meeting with clients here or whatever it is, you can set up a tab at the Fruited Plain and they can go get wine or coffee or a snack,” Ochsner said. “It just worked out so seamlessly.”

Brauning used to meet clients at the neighboring eatery, but he couldn’t deliver the full viewing experience that’s vital to his line of work.

Outfitted with equipment for audiovisual presentations, the newly renovated co-working space lends an added level of professionalism.

An Epson projector can be synched with a smartphone or lap top to stream music, movies, video clips, games and images onto a 120-inch screen, complete with a premium sound system.

“Showing content to clients should be very enjoyable,” Brauning said.

Whether it’s a simple workspace, photo studio, black box theater or recording booth, the Spark Creative is whatever clients need it to be.

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