Meet Nanette Mattox and Leah Campbell, co-founders of Vibe, a Triangle coworking community and event space designed with a female focus. Located in the Cary Towne Center Mall, these entrepreneurs took the former Spa by Mitchell’s 8,300-square-foot space and transformed it into an inviting and comfortable environment for women to experience the entrepreneurial benefits and resources of a coworking community. Deliberate in their design, they avoided the corporate industrial designs and created a space comfortable for women: “A place with a different Vibe.”
While men are certainly welcomed, Leah and Nanette want to provide for an overlooked niche. Coworking spaces tend to be tech-focused and some women find the environments intimidating. At Vibe you’ll find stimulating artwork, cushy pillows, couches, colorful walls and painted doors, plants, floral arrangements, artistic light fixtures, a podcast room, and wine in the kitchen—as opposed to beer kegs and ping pong tables. Vibe is for women that are trying to reinvent themselves and reenter the workforce. Vibe also caters to small business owners and remote workers that need a peer community and support system.
Rachel Smith, a self-proclaimed multi-faceted attorney-turned-product-manager specializing in software and technology, is just one of many satisfied members. “I tried three coworking spaces before visiting Vibe, and I knew before the tour of the space ended that I found the place I needed to be. Warm and friendly, the energy at Vibe is unlike any I’ve experienced in a coworking environment. It’s so easy there to make professional connections—and better still, friends.”
Leah and Nanette both moved to Cary in 2008 and met shortly thereafter at a dinner party. They both share Italian heritages, a passion for food and family, and a love for the Cary community. Friendship turned into a partnership and after kicking around a few ideas…Vibe was born.
Before Vibe, Leah Campbell channeled her high energy and people skills into a 20-year career in public relations, marketing, and administration. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Heart of Cary Association.
Nanette Mattox’s background includes Art Director and graphic design roles in retail advertising, catalogs, and marketing. In her recent role as a freelance graphic designer, she felt first-hand the loneliness that accompanies working remotely so it wasn’t hard to embrace the coworking concept. Solopreneurs crave a place to connect and communicate.
Leah and Nanette share more in our Q & A.
Q. You both started an amazing coworking space. Tell us more about how that came about.
Nanette: We tossed around a couple of ideas for new business and after eliminating a coffee shop (Leah doesn’t like to get up early!) I suggested the coworking concept that I had heard about. Leah and I worked on a festival planning committee together that was mostly women. They were amazing to work with…they got sh*t done! We wanted to continue to bring women business owners together. So, coworking with a female focus was born. We’ve evolved to include men, of course, but still love seeing dynamic women in our space ⎼ meeting, connecting and collaborating.
Q. What do you want to accomplish with Vibe in 2020?
Leah: We want to continue to build our community and expand our outreach to businesses, professional groups, and non-profits that are aligned with our mission. Through our partnerships, events, and programs, we want to be known throughout the Triangle for working with and supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs, especially women.
Q. What do you think the greatest challenge(s) is/are for female entrepreneurs?
Leah: Being the family’s primary caretaker presents a challenge for many women wanting to start a business or take it to the next level. They are limited in what they can do because they are largely responsible for caring for a child, their parents or a sick relative. They cannot focus their energy or financial resources on their businesses because their priority is caretaking. Many women come to Vibe looking to finally pursue their business ideas after their children are grown or a family member they were caring for has passed. This issue is only going to become more of an impediment for women as our population ages and parents live longer.
Nanette: Taking the leap. Women are often risk-averse and don’t appreciate their abilities. So many smart, accomplished women come to our space looking to take their idea or business to the next level but are hesitant. We can be so hard on ourselves. We need to stop overthinking things and worrying about failure. It’s part of the business process.
Q. You both are passionate about the Cary community. Tell us about that.
Leah: We both have lived, worked and volunteered in Cary for more than a decade. I recently moved to downtown because of its revitalization and wanting to be a part of that transformation. I currently serve on the Board of Directors for the Heart of Cary, which engages the merchants and citizens of the downtown.
Nanette: I’ve been so pleased to see Cary grow and want so much for it to thrive and be a place I’m proud to show visitors. As I’ve become more involved in organizations and this business, I’ve seen how important it is to stay connected with what’s happening in the community and to get to know fellow business owners. I think everyone benefits when that happens.
Q. What drives or shapes the person you are today?
Leah: On a professional level: good and bad work experiences. It made me understand the importance of listening, great customer service, and creating a positive work environment. On a personal level, working as a volunteer for most of my adult life helped to foster an empathetic and intuitive side and an understanding of the importance and power of the human touch and a smile.
Nanette: As a graphic designer in retail advertising I learned how to meet deadlines and work on many projects at once. I enjoy putting all the puzzle pieces together and seeing the final design come together. I am a pragmatic person who enjoys making order out of chaos, finding solutions to problems whether it’s to talk through a situation with a friend or to help organize or streamline a process. Now I’ve learned to ‘not sweat the small stuff” because life is too short!
Q. Share something we might not know about you – preferably personal.
Leah: I love classic movies. I am a huge fan of black and white film, old Hollywood and Turner Classic Movies.
Nanette: I love to reorganize other people’s kitchens and rearrange furniture (my own rooms and anyone that asks for my advice!).
Q. What did you think you were going to do professionally when you were young?
Leah: Actually, I had no clue until I was a senior in high school. I had wanted to go into the performing arts, but my mother put the kibosh on that, as she didn’t see it as a stable profession. I decided on advertising and PR, and I have been quite happy doing that career-wise.
Nanette: I thought I was going to be a fashion illustrator for department stores like my sister. It turns out my creative talents were better used in designing advertising and as an art director. I’ve been able to utilize my creative side to design the decor for Vibe as well as working on all the branding materials. So my two professions have merged!
Q. What do you love to spend your time doing outside of work?
Leah: Trying out new restaurants with friends, watching old movies, and traveling to interesting places.
Nanette: I love to cook ⎼ trying new recipes, cuisines, and ingredients, reading, listening to jazz and discovering new places near and far.