It’s 2 p.m. last Friday afternoon, and like most of us at the end of the workweek, Ashley Bowersox still has a full desktop.
But instead of unfiled paperwork and unanswered emails, he’s staring at a pile of bubble wrap, rolls of duct tape and a freshly–poured beer.
“I’ve got an idea brewing here,” promises Bowersox, who’s the co–founder of ThincSavannah, the sunny coworking space inside the Olde Landmark Building on Ellis Square.
He’s preparing his entry for an office–wide egg drop, a contest of widgets designed to protect a raw chicken egg when dropped from a notable height, in this case from ThincSavannah’s third floor windows. Points will be awarded for aesthetic style, accuracy when hitting the target next to the dumpster in the lane, and most importantly, an unbroken egg.
The friendly (and messy) competition marks the venture’s second anniversary, and in line with its mission of innovative thinking, the egg drop seemed a more fitting celebration than some ho–hum cocktail party.
“I’m sure it came about from some random afternoon brainstorm,” laughs ThincSavannah’s other founder, Tom Shimada. “We tend to throw stuff out there and see what sticks. I guess this did.”
Once word gets out that the keg is tapped, other members file in to place their submissions—some elaborate, some rudimentary—on the common space’s reclaimed wood tables:
Bill Kenney of the graphic design firm FocusLab brings in a papier mÂché rocket that draws “oohs ”and “aahs.”
ThincSavannah community manager Gretchen Pearce and Central India Christian Mission’s Lindsey Willingham place the finishing touches on their collaboration, a jar of peanut butter taped to a parachute made from a plastic bag. The architects of Wubenna have a box encased in Styrofoam and marshmallow Peeps. Fitz Haile waltzes in at the 11th hour with a jar of mayonnaise emblazoned with FITZHUGH, his web development company.
It’s an odd collection of contraptions, echoing ThincSavannah’s eclectic membership of 50+ small businesses. Some are one– or two–person shows like social media marketing firm AJ Studios, operating from a laptop in one of windowed common rooms.
“This is a great atmosphere for a small company,” says owner Adam Singer. “I make connections I never would working from home, and it’s allowed me to contribute to other people’s businesses.”
Other companies rent out dedicated desks or what Bowersox calls “four walls and door” within the space, allowing a sense of permanency. In addition to the handful of rooms that came with the opening, several new glassed–in cloisters were added earlier this year, bringing in more designers and visionaries as well as real estate agents and property managers.
Jennifer Abshire of Abshire PR has housed her public relations empire out of one of the small private offices since ThincSavannah’s inception and continues to wax enthusiastic about the concept.
“This is the best rockin’ creative space in the region,” she declares. “In regards to our business, it’s exposed us to start–ups who need our services, and we get to learn from them.”
ThincSavannah’s founders say it’s this multifarious mix that incubates a climate of creativity. The cross pollination of ideas makes for fertile ground, and some businesses that started out as members, like Sysconn New Media and the Savannah Stopover Festival, have graduated to larger office spaces on the second floor.
By combining egalitarian entrepreneurship with social events and art curation, ThincSavannah aims to provide the benefits of a dynamic work environment with none of the hassles. As Shimada puts it, “It’s the office without the office politics.”
“Everyone has a common entrepreneurial goal,” reflects Bowersox as he layers his real egg with bubble wrap and plastic egg–shaped containers. “The best part of all of this is that our members take an ownership stake.”
Perhaps because all the contestants are plucky entrepreneurs, the competitive spirit is palpable as the time comes to drop the eggs. Each entry has cost everyone five bucks, to be donated to the Friends of Statts fund. Tourists walking down Barnard stop to stare at the heads hanging out of the windows three stories up, then jump back as objects start splattering.
Kenney’s egg survives its rocket trip, as does the fragile cargo of property manager Stacie Jaynes’ buffered box and social media consultant Seth Michalak’s cardboard–stuffed Tupperware container. High fives all around, along with refills from the kegerator. It’s a celebration all right; of ideas, of innovation, of being your own boss.
“This is their office, their community,” toasts Bowersox, untroubled that his egg–within–eggs doesn’t weather the impact. “And we respond with throwing great parties based on wacky ideas.”