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Q&A: Cofounder Shares Details on New Women-Centered Coworking Space in Herndon

Two friends teamed up to create Herndon’s new coworking space called Rowan Tree, which debuted today (Jan. 15) in Sunset Business Park.

The coworking space, which describes itself as “geared for women but welcome to all,” offers an open workspace, meeting rooms, onsite yoga and professional and personal growth workshops at 280 Sunset Park Drive.

As a part of the grand opening, Rowan Tree’s Cofounders Amy Dagliano and Kate Viggiano Janich announced a scholarship for local entrepreneurial women who may face financial barriers with the membership. (Memberships cost either $2,400 for the year or $275 per month, which totals $3,300 per year.)

Janich said the scholarship is meant to support a diverse and inclusive environment. For every five members, Rowan Tree will fund one full scholarship.

Reston Now caught up with Dagliano to find out the details behind Rowan Tree’s name and why they picked Herndon.

Reston Now: How did you come up with the name “Rowan Tree”?

Amy Dagliano: We are best friends — and we also happen to share the same birthday: April 9. We found that just like with birthstones, there are actually trees associated with birthdays.

The Rowan Tree is the tree of April 9. The tree represents vision, power, connection, transformation, and balance. All things we knew we wanted in the community. The tree is known as the portal tree, taking you from one place to another, and it seeks the highest of altitudes to grow and thrive.

Rowan is also a family name of Kate’s cousin — the same cousin who helped Amy heal from Lyme Disease.

RN: Why Herndon?

AD: We found most women-focused coworking places are in cities, but we are working moms who live in NoVA. We like having our parking lots and yards — but we are still really interested in growing our careers, connecting with others and being part of a movement.

There is nothing like Rowan Tree in Herndon or the surrounding area. Before we opened, we interviewed a lot of women in the NoVA area. We found that those who lived in Herndon and nearby were very enthusiastic about the concept. Many of them were launching something new for themselves, but they didn’t have a place to land. Then, as we started pop-up events, we received incredible community support. We love this small town with a big heart and its strong sense of community.

Finally, it’s HERndon. What better place to open our flagship coworking and cogrowth space focused on women than a town with “HER” in the name?

RN: How did you choose the Herndon location?

AD: Our original intention was to open 10,000 square feet with private offices. Soon into research, however, we realized something smaller and more community-focused would better fit our vision of a close, collaborative network of women. When we held pop-up coworking at ArtSpace Herndon, our ArtSpace friends suggested we check out this place for rent.

We took one look and knew it would be perfect for Rowan Tree. The owner understands and supports our vision, and by adding our furniture, touches of color, twinkle lights and artwork, we were able to create a warm and inviting space. It’s the perfect “treehouse.”

RN: How many people can occupy the space?

AD: If everyone is sitting at tables and utilizing the conference rooms, we can fit about 40 to 50 people at once. But the great thing about the space is that it’s flexible. We can roll the tables out of the main space and have more than 50 people in chairs watching a presentation or more than 75 people for a cocktail event or fundraiser.

We also have an open studio space that can we can bring tables and chairs into to add seating or to hold wellness or artistic activities.

RN: What are you most excited about?

AD: We are blown out of the water by the caliber of the women joining our community. Our members are forming relationships. They are sharing ideas and leaning on each other. They are connecting each other to their networks. They are growing. They are making Rowan Tree their own.

We are truly looking forward to the impact we will have on our local community and economy — and hopefully, far beyond.

Photos via Rowan Tree 

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Refraction Eyes Larger Offices in Area to Accommodate Expansion

Reston-based Refraction is eyeing larger office space in the area in preparation for an expansion that will add 800 jobs in the next five years.

Currently located in Reston Town Center, Refraction plans to use a portion of the recent $1 million investment from Fairfax County toward securing new office space.

The county’s Board of Supervisors approved the use of the economic development funds yesterday (Nov. 20) for the company’s expansion.

Founded in 2014, Refraction (11911 Freedom Drive, Suite 850) is a coworking community for startups and high-growth companies. The “innovation hub” provides educational programs, along with networking and mentoring events. Currently, more than 55 companies are a part of the Refraction community.

Esther Lee, CEO of Refraction, said conversations about the move started a few months ago. Refraction wants to keep its Reston roots in order to strengthen the area’s “innovation ecosystem” by encouraging companies in its coworking space to stay and add new jobs.

A report by the Brookings Institution last year found that the D.C.-area has had the biggest loss of digital tech jobs in a five-year span compared to 50 other cities with large digital employment.

Lee called the report “alarming” and said she wants to see Refraction take an active role in boosting job growth in the region. “We want to grow the future Googles and Amazons of the world,” Lee said.

Refraction is looking to move to an office space in Reston that it roughly 25,000 square-feet in the next three to six months, she said, adding that finding a new location, receiving tenant approval and signing the lease all take time.

Refraction is working with Boston Properties to find another space in Reston Town Center.

The move to the larger space affects the launch of the Refraction’s apprenticeship program it is currently developing with the Northern Virginia Community College.

The apprenticeship, which is supported by the funding from the county, train workers for startups and high-growth companies. The goal is to launch the program early next year, Lee said.

“Lots of companies have a hard time hiring people with the right skill sets,” she said. “Many kids coming right out of college haven’t had startup experience.”

Photo via Refraction/Facebook

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Fairfax County Invests $1 Million in Reston-based Refraction’s Expansion

Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors approved today a $1 million investment in Reston-based Refraction’s expansion, which plans to add 800 jobs in the next five years.

In addition to the new tech jobs, the investment is anticipated to go toward training 2,500 workers and eventually lead to $200 million in new capital investment over the next five years.

The funding will also support Refraction’s apprenticeship program under development with the Northern Virginia Community College to train workers for startups and high-growth companies, along with assisting Refraction’s move to a larger space in Reston.

The board approved the use of the economic development funds at its Nov. 20 meeting. Under its agreement with the county, Refraction must report its financial results and success metrics annually.

Founded in 2014, Refraction (11911 Freedom Drive, Suite 850) is a coworking community for startups and high-growth companies. Located at Reston Town Center, the “innovation hub” provides educational programs, along with networking and mentoring events.

The Refraction community has had more than 100 companies who have collectively raised $126 million in capital, according to a Refraction press release.

Fairfax County Chairman Sharon Bulova said the expansion will stimulate the local economy.

“As a county, we’re making strategic investments that help to support and grow our region’s innovation ecosystem, such as offering tech startups access to entrepreneurial expertise so they can scale their businesses,” she said.

Refraction will also partner with the county’s chief equity officer and public schools to train girls and students from underrepresented and economically disadvantaged communities on entrepreneurship skills — a partnership that supports the social and racial equity policy, One Fairfax.

County officials have said that a focus on women and minorities is especially important as the tech industry increases diversity in its workforce.

Last week, another Reston-based company announced an expansion that will create more jobs, just days after Amazon’s decision to bring its second headquarters to Crystal City.

IT services firm 1901 Group announced last Thursday (Nov. 15) that it will bring 225 more jobs to Reston in the next three years as part of a $4 million expansion.

Photo via Refraction/Facebook 

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New Coworking Space Showing Off Expansion at RTC Thursday

11911 Freedom DriveRefraction, a coworking space sponsored by Canvas, has taken over new space at Reston Town Center and will hold an open house on Thursday to show it off to prospective tenants.

The Grand Opening event is from 6 to 9 p.m. at Refraction, 11911 Freedom Drive, Suite 850.

Refraction says it will have space for 50-60 companies in the new digs. The 23,000-square-foot expanded space has room to “house 250+ entrepreneurs, 23 meeting spaces, 14 offices, 2 kitchens, 1 multi-purpose event space and heaps of room for informal collaboration,” Refraction representatives say.

Refraction memberships will include free coffee and Wi-fi, meeting rooms and other collaborative space. Rates start at $30/daily for a drop-in desk to $300 for a co-working desk. Full offices are also available; inquire for prices.

From Refraction:

For three years and across three continents, we have studied every aspect of a successful startup office — speaking to entrepreneurs and their teams, boomers, millennials, investors, mentors, unicorns, academics, designers, and architects. The result of this research and consultation has been distilled into Refraction’s expanded space and the brand new HQ of Canvas, our major sponsor. We know what a team needs to be productive, collaborative and engaged.

Want to attend Thursday’s event? RSVP with Refraction.

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