Rowan Tree co-founders Amy Dagliano and Kate Viggiano Janich intend for their coworking space to be more than just a practical solution for working women. Their plan is to create a community focused on growth, connection, productivity, and balance, with a unique infusion of creativity and wellness.
American actress Phylicia Rashad once said, “When women come together with a collective intention, magic happens.” These two longtime friends know how much strength women get from one another and alternatively how disconnected women can feel when they are going at it alone, without that community of women encouraging them to keep moving forward. Juggling the demands of motherhood, aging parents, and a growing business or career can often be overwhelming. We all need our tribe.
We had the chance to catch up with Amy and Kate, the businesswomen behind the newest coworking and cogrowth community in NoVa, to find out their inspiration and just what sets their space apart.
WM: So, how did you two meet?
Kate: We met 15 years ago. My childhood friend was roommates with Amy. We all went out one evening and quickly we realized we had the same exact birthday (April 9th) and were both artists. We bonded immediately. Since then we have supported each other through break-ups, marriages, family illness, having kids, career changes, and now—we are building a business together.
WM: What characteristics do you admire in each other? And, why did you think you’d make good business partners?
Kate: There is no one else I could see myself doing this with. We used to lovingly call Amy “The Captain,” because anytime we’d be planning something as a group, be it a camping trip or a friend’s bridal shower, Amy was on it. It’s that way still with Rowan Tree. But even more—as my mom said of Amy, “Still waters run deep.” When you meet Amy she is pretty low key. But when she is passionate about something she opens up like a sunflower. She is warm, creative, and open to change. She faces challenges honestly, openly, and she conquers them. She’s an awesome wife, mom, and contributor to this world…and an awesome dancer.
Amy: I have to say the same thing, Kate is the only person I could imagine myself doing this with. Our history together allows us to be open and honest with one another, but also loving and supportive of one another’s thoughts. That and we have an awesome time together! I admire Kate’s positivity. She has a way of looking at every situation and finding the silver lining, or at the very least, being able to find humor in difficult times.
WM: How did you come up with the idea of creating a women’s coworking community and what pushed you to actually go through with it?
Kate: Last year we went out for our birthday to karaoke. We talked about how great it would be to get together with a group of women and get all those things done that we tend to put on the back burner. Then a few weeks later, Amy came to my house to hang out and work. We took a walk during our lunch and we talked about our health and our lives…and I said, “You know what we talked about on our birthday? I kinda really want to do it.” Then Amy said, “So do I!” We haven’t looked back since.
Amy: After taking some time to research the business model, we found female-focused coworking was popping up in cities across the country. We stumbled across two companies that really inspired us. The first was the Riveter in Seattle that infuses work with wellness. The second was The Coven in Minneapolis. And after hearing about The Wing, there was no question in our minds that this was a good idea. Our first events were Cheers + Chat wine events at my house. These gatherings not only validated that this was a need in our area, but it was our first introduction to the magic that is created when you bring women together. In the spring we launched our crowdfunding campaign on iFundWomen to help fund our space.
WM: Have you always dreamed of having your own business?
Kate: I’ve always known I wanted to do something different than work for a company my whole life. I’ve also always wanted to change the world for the better. I didn’t know it would mean having my own business, but I knew it would mean going out on my own in some way. It’s incredible building something out of our own imaginations.
Amy: I’m a graphic designer by trade, and my husband has urged me for years to start my own company. I never wanted to have to focus on the business side only the creative. My perspective on life changed after a 2-year battle with Lyme disease. As a result of the support I received from friends and family when I was sick, I knew I wanted to bring women together to support one another in some way. As the idea started to form, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of joy and inspiration. I mean, how can you ignore that?
WM: What has been the biggest hurdle so far and how are you overcoming?
Kate: Stepping away from the comfort of full-time jobs and leaning on our partners. I’m used to being really independent and asking for our husbands to take this risk with us and freefall for a bit is scary! But we married our partners for a reason—and they have been incredibly supportive and are jumping all in with us.
Amy: For me it’s been stepping into those unknown areas that I’ve never encountered before. Kate and I have both managed clients, run teams, provided project management, but this is our first time pitching to investors, negotiating a commercial lease, and crafting legal documents. It’s difficult, but Kate and I love to learn. There is so much growth when stepping into an uncomfortable place so it’s been a challenge, but one we’re embracing and learning as we go.
Kate: And it sure helps doing this with your best friend. Also, so many of our friends and founding members are sharing their expertise and knowledge with us. We are not shy about asking for help and guidance. Our experience building Rowan Tree is the perfect example of the power of collaboration and playing to others’ strengths.
WM: Aside from workstations what can we expect to find inside Rowan Tree?
Amy: Our differentiator is the collaborative environment. We will have community style coworking so women (all awesome people are welcome) can collaborate and support one another as the y build their business or address hiccups in their work day. While we love the collaboration, we realize that there is also a need t o meet with clients or focus in a quiet place. We will have conference and team rooms, private phone booths, and a quiet zone. We will also have a ChilLact room where you can breastfeed or pump, catch your breath, or record a podcast. We will also offer women-centered leadership and professional growth workshops, and regular onsite yoga, meditation, and wellness-focused sessions. As busy working moms ourselves, we are striving to infuse wellness and balance into the day because we often put it on the back burner. Our members are encouraged to take a break and stretch, take a pop-up yoga class, or grab an accountability buddy and go for a walk on the W&OD trail.
WM: Tell us about your timeline and how soon we can expect Rowan Tree to officially open its doors?
Amy: Fingers crossed, we are hoping for mid to late October! We are currently in lease negotiations for an awesome space in Herndon. It’s close to move-in ready so once we get the keys it will be full speed ahead to open our doors quickly. In the meantime, Rowan Tree is building community and hosting regular popup coworking events at places throughout Herndon and Reston. In addition to popping open your laptop to work, we also lead an activity focused on wellness or creativity so you can get an idea of what it’s like to #workrowan. We are also pre-selling community and full-time memberships for a fantastic discount before we open our doors.
WM: We’ve all heard how disconnected we really are in this hyperconnected world. How important do you think actually face-to-face contact with other women is in developing friendships and collaborations?
Kate: Virtual platforms like Facebook have played an incredible role in developing friendships and collaborations, and relationships and collaboration can certainly happen successfully online. In fact, I co-founded a grassroots organization after the 2016 election (www.twwnova.org), and it was all through Facebook. What’s cool is that our first founding member, Pam from College Coloring Books and I, actually met through this Facebook group. That being said, we know for a fact that in-person connection is extremely important. There is nothing better than sitting in a room with bright people, throwing out an idea, and having brilliant, creative responses coming back to you. We are creating a space where these conversations can organically happen. There is power in friendship at work. One study showed that when people have a best friend at work, they feel like they can take anything on. At Rowan Tree, we are helping to create a space that fosters friendship and connection to do just that—help our members take anything on.
Amy: It’s amazing, in just a few short months, I have made incredible friendships with unbelievably talented, funny, driven women. Most of whom are business owners in the Herndon and Reston community. I created the community I was longing to be a part of. I can’t imagine not seeing these women on a weekly basis, and we only just met a few months ago.
WM: What is your ultimate vision for your coworking + cogrowth community?
Amy: At an early event one of our members said “I’m really struggling with trying to trademark something.” Immediately another woman responded, “I just went through that. I have a great trademark lawyer, would you like her information?” That perfectly illustrates one of the main goals of the community. There was a question and immediately, a helpful and supportive answer. Together we are supporting one another, learning from one another, and growing together. And it’s more than growing our businesses—we are growing our minds, our health, and ourselves. We are changing the way women work together.
WM: Describe the woman you had in mind when you envisioned your members?
Kate: We are looking for women who are warm and open-minded, and who take their work seriously but are striving to live a happy, balanced, and productive life. We want members who care less about competition and more about collaboration. We envision our members passionate about learning and growing. This isn’t about being part of a club—but it is about being a part of something bigger than you. It’s about finding your tribe and helping each other be successful—in work, health, and life.
Amy: We have built Rowan Tree for the needs of women, but this is a safe space for ALL to come and join us.
WM: I see that you have scholarships available, can you tell us a bit more about that?
Amy: For every five members that join Rowan Tree, we will award a scholarship to a woman in the community who may need an extra helping hand. It was really important to us that this community be accessible for women from different backgrounds and stages in life. A scholarship is the best way to support this idea. We are partnering with local non-profits to help identify candidates.
WM: Where did the Rowan Tree name come from?
Amy: We share the same birthday. We knew when we were namestorming that we wanted the name to be tied to our birthdays. It turns out, there are trees associated with birthdays. The Rowan Tree is the tree of April 9th. The tree represents vision, power, connection, transformation, and balance. All things we knew we wanted in the community. It is also known as the portal tree, taking you from one place to another, and it often grows in tough places, seeking the highest of altitudes to grow. As if that wasn’t reason enough it’s a family name of Kate’s cousin. The same cousin that worked with me in my healing with Lyme Disease. The universe was telling us to name our business Rowan Tree!
WM: Why Herndon, VA?
Kate: Most coworking places that are focused on women are located in cities. We are working moms who live in NoVA. We like having parking lots and yards. But we are still really interested in growing our careers, learning and connecting, and being part of a buzz. There is nothing like this in Herndon or surrounding area. We also interviewed a lot of women in the NoVA area. We found that those who lived in Herndon and nearby jumped right in with enthusiasm. We received incredible community support, and we love this small town with big hearts. And 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?
Visit workrowan.com for information on memberships and updates on the grand opening date!
Find Rowan Tree on Facebook and Instagram for news on pop-up events.