Western New York is full of innovative people, often blazing a new trail and building a better Buffalo along the way. To celebrate these WNY Trailblazers, Be in Buffalo is participating in a blog series with a coalition including 43North, Aleron, Forge Buffalo, and TechBuffalo.
Sophia Marshall is the Community Manager at The K Haus, a coworking and art space in Buffalo. Sophia grew up in New York City, went to Niagara University, and also spent time in Italy before settling in Buffalo's Elmwood Village.
Why is coworking a good solution for tech workers, remote employees, entrepreneurs, and the creative class?
Think of coworking like that Netflix free trial you used all 4 of your email accounts on, but for office space. Plus top-notch amenities, plus really cool like-minded people doing really cool things. There are multiple levels wherein you can test out the space based on the work you’re doing and how you’re doing it – without the huge commitment required when looking at commercial leases in huge buildings. The way we collectively look at coworking in comparison to others is that it shouldn’t just stop at the physical space itself; rather, it needs to be a multi-tiered resource. People should be able to come into their coworking space to get work done, enhance the work they’re doing, and in turn have their space work for them. Like a co-op. So, if you’re scaling your business, looking to grow your network or knowledgebase, or you’re looking for a burst of motivation – coworking from where we sit is designed for all of the above.
What have you learned in your role at The K Haus?
What haven’t I! Way beyond what QB’ing a brand new company teaches you, I’ve learned that risks in the pursuit of passion are worth it. I almost took a job working for an extremely successful SaaS company that has been thriving through the pandemic, but my gut lead me here. I tell people when you think of your career, you have to ask yourself, “what have I always enjoyed doing that I could do forever?” I think back to how excited I was when I was asked to plan the 6th grade English class Christmas party by my teacher Ms. Torosian, and later on realized that I was meant to be an event planner. I haven’t doubted my decision to join the K Haus because it embodies everything I have always enjoyed doing, including events. Now that summer’s here and we’re full speed ahead on our programming, I’m having more fun than ever.
You’ve lived in NYC and Italy, went to college in Niagara Falls and now live in Elmwood Village. What’s your favorite part of living in Buffalo?
In Buffalo you feel like you’re really a part of a community, instead of just a number. Being in Buffalo gives me the balance I was missing, and the opportunity to live the lifestyle I always wanted. Plus, making connections is much easier and more enjoyable. People are eager to get to know new faces, help one another out and see great things come from introductions made with nothing in return. I love the feeling of running into those I’ve met through mutual friends or colleagues, and forming relationships with them. While that’s an every-so-often occurrence in other cities, it happens weekly in Buffalo and I love it.
What advice would you give others interested in building community?
Be patient, be intentional and keep a thumb on the pulse. Even if you don’t start out in the middle of a global pandemic, there are going to be days you panic and think “nothing is happening.” Remaining aligned in your purpose and trusting your ability to bring great people together will get you through those times when you feel all your efforts have been for naught. By keeping your thumb on the pulse when it comes to who’s doing what and where, I’ve been able to connect people I’ve known for 10 years with others I’ve known for 10 days. When I first started as Community Manager, I said to myself “I want people here who go out of their way to say hello in the morning, and proactively look to expand their network.” Sounds simple, but there are people who are just as happy keeping to themselves. While there’s nothing wrong with that, you can’t build community with those people. So, you have to be intentional about getting to know those coming through the door and those you’re reaching out to. The best part is when those in your community start building connections organically – that’s when you know you’re doing it right.
Favorite bar and/or coffee shop in Western New York?
The K Haus has bottomless Tipico coffee, so I’m not much of a café-goer these days. With that said, my favorite bars are the ones that make you feel like one of their own. Fattey Beer Co and Forty Thieves have that down to a science thanks to the ownership. For something a little more intimate, Billy Club is my go-to. Great drinks, 10/10 service and one of the best places for Sunday brunch in my humble opinion. I come back for the ambiance and short rib hash.