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Hidden Gems: Meet Tammy Bishop of Our Suite Village


Today we’d like to introduce you to Tammy Bishop.
 

Hi Tammy, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
In 2014, I followed my hair stylist from a traditional salon to a salon-suites business. This was my first experience in a salon suite business and this setup blew my mind! Thirty small rooms, each one operated by a self-employed beauty professional, all in one place. Although they were all independent professionals and doing their own specialty, there was a communal feel to the space, and it felt amazing. 

Fast forward to 2019, I went to another salon-suites business and feeling the same communal feel, I asked myself, “Why doesn’t this setup exist for children’s therapists like myself?” Because we travel between clients all day long, we miss those daily opportunities to build professional relationships that give a sense of belonging. It’s lonely not having a work family. 

When I get to this point in my story, some folks tell me that there do exist co-ops of therapists. I reply that the co-ops are made up of quiet therapists, like social workers, mental health counselors, and behaviorists. I’m an occupational therapist and my therapy with kids is often loud and very active. I would not be welcomed in a setting with quiet therapists. 

So, in October 2020, I set out to create a salon-suite set up for all who work with children: occupational, speech, and physical therapists, reading and math tutors, IEP advocates, and so on. Working alongside each other, we could maintain our independence while creating that beautiful communal work-family feeling. I would call this space Our Suite Village. 

In July 2021, I signed a lease in Oviedo Mall and Our Suite Village opened for business on August 9, 2021- International Coworking Day. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Not at all! I did lots of online research about starting a new business and I had experience from being a self-employed therapist for ten years, so I was pretty much ready for bumps in the road. Some of the unexpected bumps were paying for unplanned electrical work, learning to climb an eight-foot ladder to change fluorescent bulbs, and having no clue how much time it really takes to advertise. 

The biggest bump, and the one I’m still struggling with, is finding renters. I thought my self-employed colleagues were my market. I was wrong. After discovering that, I welcomed anyone and everyone who needed space. By doing this, I figured I could learn who is my market. This turned out to be a good decision because business is picking up. 

Have I figured out my market? Not quite. I think I have multiple markets and they change depending upon the time of year; for example, during summer, camps rent space from 9 A.M. to 2 P.M. When students return to school after summer, very few hours during the day are rented. I need to find a market that needs space during these hours, so I’m exploring homeschool co-ops and programs for retired folks. 

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Our Suite Village (OSV) is a shared (coworking) teaching, learning, and meeting space that welcomes all of our community members. It’s located in Oviedo Mall in Oviedo Florida, northeast of Orlando. 

We rent rooms by the hour to self-employed crafting teachers (sewing, greeting cards, charcuterie, and succulents), occupational and speech therapists, reading specialists, non-profits for older children and young adults who have special needs, psychics, and life coaches. 

These providers offer enriching programs for adults, children, and families. I really have to give the providers a shout-out. Their smiles, welcoming energy, and desire to teach and help people are what is growing OSV’s upstanding reputation. We wouldn’t be where we are without their beautiful personalities, hard work, and time. 

OSV also rents space to clubs, organizations, and businesses that need a place to meet. There’s a wealth management company who rents a room once a month for their staff dinner meeting. 

We’re a great resource for small businesses, that provide services to children and/or adults, when they’re just getting started and can’t afford their own lease. Here at OSV, they pay for space only when they need it. 

What’s next?
For 2022-2023, I’m looking forward to pushing OSV out of the red and into the black. It’s going to take a lot of work and time to find renters and create more programs. I’m motivated by the challenge. 

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Tammy Bishop

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