Rebecca Ridner charted a circuitous and sometimes unlikely path toward being a business owner. June 1 she took possession of the former Knox-Tenn building on Central Street after signing a lease on faith that something good would happen. She sent the message out via Instagram that she wanted to talk to businesses needing a small space. She immediately got a great response and four businesses, in addition to her own, moved in within the last couple of weeks.
From Florida originally, she came to Knoxville to attend UT and has now been in Knoxville for fourteen years. During those years she married and is now raising four children. Along the way, friends admired how she decorated her house. People wanted tips on decorating their houses, she began working with contractors to stage homes and to select finishes. Someone wanted to use her Old North residence for a style shoot. That led to working with a photographer setting up various style shoots. She enjoyed that it didn’t have to be practical, just beautiful.
She’s lived in Old North Knoxville for three years and says it feels different from other places she’s lived. There is a strong sense of community and so many people are doing such great things to make it better that it inspired her to do the same. With only a vague notion of what she had in mind, she noticed the Knox-Tenn building. Having lunch at Holly’s Corner (which, along with Magpies is next door), she told a friend she’d like to open a collaborative space. After lunch she walked next door. Despite the filth inside, she loved the expansive windows and could see the potential beauty. She was sold.
Her vision, which is quickly becoming a reality is that the building will be filled with complimentary business, collaborating like a small organic community. Rather than competing, they will support each other by sending business to the others. She came up with “The Hive” thinking of a space that forms a collaborative community. She liked the fifties vibe it carried. I asked her if she set out with the idea of having all female-owned business and she said, “No. In fact, we had a male-owned business interested, but the space didn’t work for them.” She says she feels like the building is full, but they might be able to take one more business, if the right one presented itself.
The businesses include:
Ali Daugherty owns and operates Freedom Crown Designs. From the Knoxville area, she, “started my business based on the concept of authenticity and Christian community. The heart behind Freedom Crown is the blog, which features a weekly story of a different woman’s freedom in Christ,” from which she pulls encouraging quotes for prints she sells in her online shop. “I love the idea that a piece of someone’s story in Knoxville can be hanging in the home of a woman across the country. In addition to the blog and online shop, I offer other graphic design services, including branding, web design, and custom design work.”
Carrie Jo Pinckard owns Texture Photo. She said, “While attending Berry College, I began photographing weddings and quickly found myself celebrating with couples in many different cities. I found myself drawn back to Knoxville, decided to make Knoxville “home base” and moved here in 2009 initially living on a houseboat at Volunteer Landing.” Being close to downtown made her appreciate, “such a incredible place to call ‘home.’ Six years later, I’m thrilled to be a part of The Hive, to plant even more roots in this great city and be honored to tell the stories of elegant and timeless Knoxville weddings.
Rebecca’s company is Rebecca Ridner Styling and Interiors. “Always up for a challenge, Rebecca uses her creative gifts and eye for design to help photographers, brides, companies, and home owners tell their unique story.”
Katie Roach is owner and operator of The Katelier, (she may soon do cash and carry). She grew up outside Memphis, but “relocated to Knoxville in 2005,” saying, “Knoxville is a great blend of urban and the outdoors. I love Knoxville’s natural beauty but (also) the crazy beautiful potential. It’s go-with-the-flow attitude, non-pretentious independence and hunger for creativity makes it the perfect home for small businesses like mine. The Katelier is a boutique-style floral design studio. Knoxville craves community and creativity, and I love that The Hive is just that.”
Caroline Smith and Taryn McLean are working together on Help You Dwell. Caroline moved from Nashville to Knoxville nine years ago and fell in love with the city. Taryn, a Knoxville native lives near downtown, and the two joined to create the new company. “Help You Dwell is a lifestyle service devoted to bringing order and peace to your living or work space through organization and simplicity. Our intention is to help free you up to do more of the things you love. We are at your service to create beautiful, organized, and livable spaces where you can reclaim your home and use it the way you’ve always dreamed of.”
Each business has its own space and a large central area is available for any of them who might need it for an event or other use. Everyone has a key and can keep the hours for their own business that they prefer. At the moment there is no walk-in retail, so there is no need for the building to be open regular hours, though that may come.
The large space will be used for workshops offered both by the business owners, as well as others. The space may be rented for gatherings by anyone in the community. August 23rd the space will be the site of a pop-up clothing sale. More pop-up events may happen and particularly popular merchandise may become the first retail offered on a regular basis.
The official Grand Opening will be September 3 from 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM with food, drink, giveaways and a chance to get to know the businesses and their owners. Even though they will be settling in for the next few weeks, they are open for business. You can follow The Hive on Facebook (click the link and give them a “like”), on their web page or follow them on Instagram. If you’d like to contact them to use the large space or host a workshop you can email email@example.com.
Rebecca pointed out, “It can almost be like a one-stop shopping experience.” She explained that for a wedding or other event, for example, Holly (at Holly’s Corner) does catering, Magpies makes cakes and other confections and at The Hive a florist, photographer and invitation designer are ready to help with those needs.
It’s an evolving, organic experiment and Rebecca, along with everyone else is excited to see where it goes. Stop in and say, “hello.” Tell them you read about it here.