Gretchen Bilbro is a friend from way back. So way back, she was friends with my husband years before I even came into the picture. I have had the honor of watching her blossom and transform into a fierce, focused and driven woman. I have a vivid memory from only a handful of months ago (I think it was early Spring) where Gretchen and I are sitting in her car parked outside of an old building in downtown Murfreesboro, just off the square. The building is for sale, and Gretchen and I are dreaming. We are having a conversation about what in the world are we doing with our lives? and whether or not we are being true to ourselves or just doing what we think we should be doing. I will always remember that pivotal moment together, as it was incredibly validating for me to know that I was not the only woman feeling the pangs of not knowing what she wanted.
So…fast forward a few months…that old building is no longer for sale. Gretchen is jumping off that proverbial cliff and diving into the adventures of entrepreneurship. Cultivate Coworking is a community hub for folks to connect, exchange ideas, support and inspire each other, and ultimately grow their enterprises. Cultivating relationships, community, growth, creativity—how fantastic! Check out the pictures of the early stages of Cultivate and the interview with Gretchen that follows:
Your new space is such a fantastic idea and much needed in the community. What inspired you to pursue this?
My family has always been very supportive of me. I don't think I would be starting a new business if my husband, Chris, hadn't already "been there and done that." I watched him start his businesses, and he definitely inspires me to go beyond my comfort zone and try new things. He is naturally an encouraging person, and his support helps me to take chances that I would never had done otherwise. As far as what inspired me to get into coworking...watching him trying to work in a make-shift office in our house with three kids in the next room helped me to be more aware of small business owners' needs. It is expensive to set up an office and find the right kind of space. There are a lot of people out there that either work independently from home, at a coffee shop or remotely, or maybe they are just starting a small business; I think they will get a lot out of our space.
You have been through such a process to arrive at this point. Will you share a little bit about your journey and what brought you to where you are now?
These questions are HARD, Tarri! Well, before kids I worked at Parthenon Pavilion as an RN. It was a great job--difficult at times, but I really loved almost all of it. When the kids came along, I stayed home with them and spent the next four years or so in a complete haze. We went from no kids to three kids within a 13-month span. They were all under two years old. It was crazy, or maybe we were crazy thinking we could do that. Haha! Now that I am on the other side of the baby explosion and they are all in school, I began thinking about what I wanted to do. Nursing was a fulfilling experience. Not only did I make good money at it, but it filled a need to be a part of a community and help others. Not going back to that scared me a little, but then I took an honest look at what my day to day life would be like working at a hospital, and I realized that isn't what I want right now. I felt a strong urge to create something. I wanted to be a part of a community and help others in some way too. We bought the building and began brainstorming on what to do with the extra space. The plan was for Chris to put his offices in the space, but that left us with quite a bit of room. There were so many ideas floating through my head. The possibilities were endless. You were in on that too! Then I came across the idea of coworking, and it all clicked. There was a conference a few weeks after that in Kansas City that I went to, and I just fell in love with the concept and the community. Everyone involved is so helpful and they all want these spaces to succeed. It was refreshing to think I could be a part of that and create that same feeling in Murfreesboro.
Share about a time when you had to take a leap of faith and just jump over the cliff.
The most memorable example would have to be when Chris and I adopted our first son, Serik, from Kazakhstan. We were first-time parents and had no idea what we were doing. We traveled 26 hours across the world to a place that neither of us had ever been. We did not speak the language and most of the time had no idea what was going on. The entire process (which lasted two months in-country) was definitely the most stressful time of our lives. We were taken to a baby house in a small village an hour and a half away from the city where we first met Serik. Then we had to make the choice of pursuing his adoption. As cute and sweet as he was (and still is!) we definitely had to gulp and just say yes, even though were were both terrified. Of course it was the best thing we ever did, and I wouldn't change it for the world.
What is your favorite space/environment like?
Nothing makes me happier than being outside at night when the warmth almost swallows you whole and feels like pudding. You look up and see the stars and moon and hear all the bugs. Ah...I will be so sad to see the summer go.
What books are currently on your nightstand?
No books on my nightstand, but I am currently rereading the "Outlander" series on a Kindle app.
Your go to musical selection?
You have those big, beautiful, smoky, classic cinema eyes. How the heck to you do that? Any beauty secrets you're willing to share?
This question made me laugh out loud. You are so sweet. Any beauty that may occur surrounding me is purely accidental, I assure you.
Do you have any mottos or mantras?
As far as mottos go, it would have to be "Always keep your options open." I never really thought about it before you asked, but I have a mantra too. Several times daily I say to myself, "It could always be worse."
Mermaid or Forest Fairy?
Even though I am a Pisces, water scares me so I am going with Forest Fairy.
Kilim or Toile?
I had to Google that first one. I'm going to have to go with Kilim.
Spoons and bowls or forks and plates?