Top industry award-win for Devon’s first female co-working space

(Last Updated On: June 30, 2021)

Devon’s first co-working space for female entrepreneurs is delighted to announce they have won a Business Excellence Award, tipped as the ‘Best Coworking Space 2021 in Devon’.

Based in the heart of Totnes, Devon, The Tribe was given the top accolade by judges after what has certainly been a turbulent year for all industries. Hosted annually, the Business Excellence Awards seek to celebrate and reward companies for excellence in the industry, the quality of their products and their dedication to service.

A community-driven boutique co-working space for women, The Tribe was founded by award-winning interior design blogger and freelance writer, Stacey Sheppard, who is tipped as one of the top 10 UK interiors blogs in the UK, The Design Sheppard.

The 2021 awards are particularly significant given the immense uncertainty and unrest of the past year. Companies who have been selected for an award have been commended for their innovation, ingenuity, and hard work despite the difficult circumstances.

Founder of The Tribe, Stacey Sheppard, said – “Winning a business excellence award just 15 months after starting my business really is something to be proud of. The fact that 13 of those months were during a global pandemic makes it even more meaningful.”

Stacey founded the Tribe in early 2020 as a direct response to the feelings of isolation and loneliness that she was experiencing whilst working from home alone, something many of us are all too familiar with now. She was also desperately lacking a sense of community and a business network that she could call on for support.

After some initial research showed that the South West has the highest percentage of female entrepreneurs in the country and following many conversations with other women in business who felt the same, Stacey decided to set up her own coworking space where women could come together, share knowledge and experience and help each other to grow and thrive.

“Only 6% of UK women run their own business and only 1 in 3 UK entrepreneurs is female,” said Stacey, quoting figures from the Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship that was published in 2019.

Stacey continued – “One of the main barriers to entrepreneurship identified by the Rose Review is a lack of access to relatable sponsors, mentors or role models, particularly as only 30% of women surveyed for the review said they already knew an entrepreneur compared to 38% of men. I wanted to create a space that could demystify entrepreneurship and could ensure that women have access to the advice and support that they need to fully develop the entrepreneurial skills necessary to start and scale-up their businesses.”

Having been forced to close multiple times due to the pandemic after opening in January 2020, Stacey managed to pivot the business at the start of 2021 by launching a virtual coworking membership to bridge the gap until her members were able to meet in person again.

Stacey said – “It was always my intention to launch an online membership as there are many women who run businesses but don’t require desk space, for example, creative women who have their own studios. The problem was I didn’t have the technological know-how to do this.”

Fortuitously, The Tribe had introduced Stacey to digital education specialist, Claire Collis, and together they set up and now manage The Tribe Online, which continues to harness the power of connection and collaboration, digitally.

“It’s been a really tough year to be a founder and start a new business. But the disproportionate way that women have been affected by the global pandemic has simply served to reinforce my conviction that women need spaces where they can feel empowered and supported by a like-minded community of female entrepreneurs who understand and share their challenges and can inspire them to fulfil their potential. This is exactly what I am trying to create with The Tribe,” said Stacey.

Having survived multiple lockdowns and come out the other side with a Business Excellence Award, Stacey is now intent on growing her network and reaching more women. On a mission to become the go-to hub for female entrepreneurs within the South Hams and Torbay, she is currently looking into funding opportunities to help her accelerate the growth and positive power of The Tribe.

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