'Holistic entrepreneurship': Winnipeg businesswomen hope to empower other young entrepreneurs

It's said that "necessity is the mother of invention," and that rings true for Winnipeg entrepreneurs Rachel Dufresne and Andrea Tiopo. The pair opened the doors to TableSpace in Osborne Village in October.

TableSpace is a new co-working space that opened in October in Osborne Village

Winnipeg entrepreneurs Rachel Dufresne and Andrea Tiopo are co-owners of TableSpace, a new co-working space for entrepreneurs and gig economy workers. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

If necessity is the mother of invention, then carrying a laptop around to coffee shops has something to do with the birth of TableSpace, a new co-working space opened this month by Winnipeg entrepreneurs Rachel Dufresne and Andrea Tiopo. 

"I was working out of coffee shops a lot.  Working on different sorts of projects, and was trying to find a space to do these projects out of, and I couldn't find one that sort of fit me," said Dufresne. 

"So I decided my new project or new venture should be to create this space."

Dufresne, an accountant, teamed up with real estate agent Tiopo to open the co-working space. It's designed with new entrepreneurs in mind, or those working in the growing gig economy.

"Doesn't matter where you are in your business. If you are in your early stages, [or] this is a side hustle ... [or] you're just kind of, like, doing it part-time. We wanted to be able to cater to every single person's needs," said Tiopo.

TableSpace, a co-working space for Winnipeg entrepreneurs and gig economy workers, opened its doors in Osborne Village in October. (John Einarson/CBC)

The two-storey building features an open concept co-working space on the main floor with private offices and a boardroom upstairs.

Each table has its own Wi-Fi connection. A lounge space with couches gives people a comfortable space to chill out.

The shared kitchen is stocked with coffee and healthy snacks from local businesses.

There are rooms dedicated for recording podcasts, taking photos and making social media videos — something Dufresne says is crucial to promoting a business these days.

Winnipeg entrepreneurs work in a TableSpace co-working area. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

"As our business is growing, we found that social media has been very key in our growth.  So we wanted to give a space where entrepreneurs would be able to utilize," said Dufresne. 

"With the increase in remote workers, as well as individual entrepreneurs you can literally start a business from an Instagram account today."

'People just want to change'

Tiopo has been a real estate agent for over four years, and says the number of hours she works can differ from day to day.

She says running a business out of your home can make you feel isolated, and always meeting clients in public spaces can feel invasive.

People don't want to be in an office anymore.- Andrea Tiopo, TableSpace co-owner

Tiopo says co-working spaces aren't new to Winnipeg, but their space is different in that it offers a place people can network, focus on work, and stay healthy.

"People don't want to be in an office anymore. There's just so much going on out there that people just want to change the environment," said Tiopo. 

"Being around other inspiring individuals to help … get those creative juices flowing. You talk about a work-life balance."

Dufresne and Tiopo said to create that balance of work, wellness and social life, they designed the main floor to be convertible. Folding tables, an open concept and a bright space mean it can host fitness classes in the morning, and an event centre at night for workshops and mixers. 

"Every morning, Monday to Friday, we host wellness classes. Mondays, Wednesdays we do yoga. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays we do a lighter bootcamp," said Tiopo. "We want to really focus on a work-life balance. We want to take a holistic approach to entrepreneurship."

"We've found it difficult to balance all sides of our lives," said Dufresne. "So we wanted to give the opportunity for people, in one space, to find a space for wellness, work and their social life."

'So much talent in the city'

The businesswomen say creating networks with others and bouncing ideas off other entrepreneurs has helped them get to where they are in their careers.

Dufresne says it's how she ended up collaborating with Tiopo. The pair were introduced to each other through a mutual friend in January and opened TableSpace in the fall.

"We just complement each other very well. I have an accounting and business background, and she's sales and marketing. So we kind of mesh really well together and our other ventures give us the opportunity in order to have the flexibility to create this space," says Dufresne.

Tiopo says they offer three options for workspaces ranging anywhere between $35 per month to $650 for a private office.

"Our prices are very reasonable because we want to offer an entry-level membership option," says Tiopo. 

Alayna Giguere opened her business, Alayna G Esthetics, earlier this month, after renting an office space in TableSpace. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

Alayna Giguere is the owner of Alayna G Esthetics and just started working for herself at the beginning of October.

The 23-year-old esthetician has worked for others in various Winnipeg salons and spas. She now rents a private office at TableSpace where she offers services including manicures, makeup application and lash extensions.

"I've been saving up for a while," said Giguere.  "I was looking at a couple other spaces and yeah, it's not cheap. You can't really work out of your home when you live in an apartment."

She says being her own boss is a dream come true, and an achievement she didn't believe she could accomplish so quickly.

Giguere says the people she's met since joining TableSpace have given her the confidence to grow her business.

"I also have a bunch of people that I can collaborate with and work with, and kind of bounce ideas off of and maybe ask questions if I have questions," says Giguere.

"Just a bunch of amazing people are going to be here, and I'm so honoured to be a part of that."

"We don't realize that there is so much talent in the city, and there's so much you can learn from other people. And so the only way to do that is to get out there, and to meet people," says Tiopo.

"We are trying to build the community," said Dufresne. "We believe in developing the whole self."

Winnipeg businesswomen hope to empower other young entrepreneurs

3 years ago
Duration 3:15
Winnipeg entrepreneurs Rachel Dufresne and Andrea Tiopo opened TableSpace in Osborne Village in October to give people in the gig economy a place to work.


Marjorie Dowhos is the host of CBC Manitoba's Radio Noon. She is an RTNDA award-winning reporter. Marjorie joined CBC Manitoba in 2010. Prior to that, she was an anchor, reporter and video journalist in Thunder Bay, Ont., Medicine Hat, Alta., Fort McMurray, Alta., and Fort St. John, B.C. Marjorie is also the host of the CBC podcast Jets Stream.


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