For local author and illustrator Samantha Williams, The Tribe Work Hub in Totnes has been a real-life fairy tale.
When she first went to the coworking space for female entrepreneurs, her intention was simply to finish the series of five books she had been working on. She has ended up achieving that and so much more.
Samantha started writing and illustrating several years ago while working in America. On her return to the UK, she began work on her initial set of books but had no idea what to do with them.
She said: “Although I had some books and ideas I didn’t have any business experience to take it anywhere or to publish them.
“I really just wanted to finish a set of illustrations for a story, to re-illustrate a book I had already done. I needed time and space to do that – I was looking for a few hours a week to finish the personal project.
“Once I came to The Tribe that’s when thing started to change. It was really apparent to me very quickly that there was so much more that I could gain from a coworking space like this.
“The Tribe is so much more than a desk space. The energy, support and expertise that the community brings is not something you can do alone, and when you’re starting to build a business and trying to get something off the ground it’s so important to be surrounded by a tribe of people who support you in doing that, and that’s exactly what I found here.
“The benefits I’ve gained from The Tribe are knowledge and expertise that I wouldn’t have been able to access working from home alone as I have been for the last few years.
“Going through the business advice and help they’ve provided for me has allowed me to create a business from nothing. All of the dreams I had suddenly became very real and practical.”
The Tribe, which is part of the Devon Work Hubs network, has helped Sam open a new chapter on her career. She now has her own company, Littlestar Design Studio Ltd, self-publishing all five books which are available on Amazon.
As well as carrying out school talks and readings, she is updating her books and has been joined by two others to help support her work.
“The biggest help The Tribe has given me is the confidence to share my vision and my stories so that I could inspire other people to come and work with me on this and that’s exactly what’s happened,” adds Samantha.
“I’m working with two more people now with a wonderful community behind me, backing me. This journey has been fantastic so far and I hope it will continue to grow.”
The Tribe was established in Totnes by freelance writer and award-winning blogger Stacey Sheppard in January 2020.
Having been working at home, she wanted to set up a network for other women working from home alone. She admits it was difficult to close the doors of the business during the start of the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns so soon after opening.
Stacey said: “2020 was an extremely difficult year to open a business. At the time there were a lot of stories about the death of coworking but as things started getting back to normal it’s been heralded as a solution, and it’s become more popular again as many people have found that working from home full time perhaps isn’t the best solution for them.
“Our USP is that we’re aimed at female entrepreneurs, specifically to help women start and grow their business.
“After getting over all of the challenges of the pandemic, the last couple of years has been really positive and our community has flourished and grown. We’ve seen so many success stories where members have grown their business, made connections, built networks and driven their business forward.”
Samantha is among these success stories, and Stacey is proud of everything that Samantha has achieved since becoming part of the community at The Tribe.
She said: “When Sam first joined us, she was talking about how it was a dream of hers to start and grow a business, but she just wasn’t sure how she could go about it.
“Since she’s been coming here, she’s met people who have helped her self-publish her books, write copy on her website, and helped her clarify what it is she wants to do with her business.
“She has met all of the right people to help map out her business journey and the confidence I have seen grow in her is just immeasurable. It’s been an absolute pleasure to watch the journey she’s been on.
“When I opened this coworking space, I wanted people to come in who wouldn’t necessarily normally come in contact with one another but have complementary skills to help one another in business.
“So a large part of what I try to do as the founder of The Tribe is to help people make connections and encourage collaborations. I’m often able to help people find the right person they need to move their business forward.
“There’s only so much one person can do, and no-one has all the skills they need to make their business thrive.
“I’ve always believed we’re stronger together and when we work together, we can take things to the next level much quicker. Everyone knows something you don’t. You can tap into that knowledge and experience by coming into a work hub.”