Convene, Collaborate + Co-Work


475 days ago, I took yet another huge entrepreneurial leap of faith and moved to Aspen with my husband, our youngest and the family pup. After two decades of urban struggle, leaving Los Angeles for this Norman Rockwell-like zip code seemed a safe bet to hedge. Plus, my in-laws basement off Cemetery Lane provided a soft landing; although, at 48 who knew I’d be back to sofa-surfing!  

Since housing was taken care of for the time-being, I began to focus on this thing called work which I hadn’t looked for in years based on the self-appointed "CEO/Founder” title. My father-in-law, a local Rotarian and my previous startup's angel investor, forewarned that unless I acted quickly, I'd end up in Aspen’s unemployment cess pool. Yikes - I better find my people and fast. Google search time. “Coworking Space,” 0 results for Aspen. about Basalt? Nada. Carbondale? Goose egg.  

A slight pit began to develop in my stomach, which grew into an abyss after I hung up with a mayor in the Valley who said I should look in the phone book under “marketing” to explore opportunities in my area of expertise. Analog job searches weren’t in keeping with the previously conceived notions of my new mountain-town life. Out of fear, I accepted a head of marketing gig at an LA-based tech company that happily agreed to my working remotely.

Pounding away on my laptop, first at Ink where the husband jumped in as a Barista making $11 bucks an hour plus tips, and then at other coffee shops around town, I began to see the same faces crop up day after day. Jayne Gottlieb @ So Cafe, Sammy Steen @ Spring. Michaela Olson @ Victoria’s and the list goes on. My luck appeared to be changing, Aspen was indeed filled with entrepreneurs of all kinds, who apparently lacked a center of gravity outside of caffeinated hubs.  

In reading about the Power Plant’s demise, a series of events unfolded from the ashes which ultimately led me to my current role as Aspen Entrepreneur’s (AE) Executive Director. The ultimate vision for AE has always been to build out a physical space where entrepreneurs, creatives, mentors, city leaders, established business-owners and the like could convene, collaborate and yes, co-work.   

As of July 1st, this dream is now a reality. If you haven't walked through the door of Maker + Place, Michaela Olson’s retail environment featuring one-of-a-kind handcrafted wares, to find AE HQ in the rear…please do! The rest of you have already been drawn into this creative vortex where good energy is palpable. While we’re only at the beginning of planting the seeds for young entrepreneurs to blossom, the city of Aspen takes it’s characteristics from the tree it’s named after. The new outgrowth seeks the sunlight while wanting to stay deeply connected to it’s roots that in one such Aspen colony in Utah has endured over 80,000 years. This is the perfect metaphor for AE.


Julie Engels
Executive Director of AE