Business: Pants Factory Provides Office Setting For Independent Businesses
By: Debra Lawless
If you work at home you may miss, from time to time, the companionship and collegiality of co-workers.
The Pants Factory at 101 Route 6A in Orleans, which just passed its eight-month mark since opening on June 1, offers a shared work space. And with it comes a community without the usual office politics.
“People who work remotely are decentralized. People miss a bit of community,” says Andrew Stern who, with his wife Emily Jeanne Miller, founded the Pants Factory. Last Christmas one of the Pants Factory’s members organized a holiday dinner party for 12 to 14 in her Brewster home. “Having the holiday dinner made me realize a lot of people are connecting here.”
Stern, who is in his early 40s, is the founder, president and executive director of Global Development Incubator (GDI), a nonprofit that launches startups focused on social impact, according to its webpage. Until recently he commuted 35 minutes each way to his office in Washington, D.C. Miller is a fiction writer whose most recent novel is “The News from the End of the World” (which takes place on off-season Cape Cod). Stern and Miller had owned a house in Orleans for a few years before they moved in full-time in October 2016, after the birth of their daughter.
“We decided to move out of the big city when she was eight weeks,” Stern says. Some time after that, the architect Joy Cuming, the principal architect of Aline Architecture in Orleans, suggested that they open a shared workspace in the now-vacant Army and Navy store across the street from her office.
By then, Stern and Miller had learned that with a toddler in the house, “it’s really hard to work at home—almost impossible,” Stern says. And so the idea took shape. The pair hired Cuming to design the new space. The result is a clean and vibrant interior with wood paneling, charcoal gray walls, track lighting and modern office chairs. Snake plants in large pots add a touch of greenery.
The name Pants Factory came about when Stern and Miller wanted to get away from well-trod names such as “Coastal” this and that. When they learned that Orleans had had a “pretty vibrant garment industry” in the late 19th century, the name Pants Factory seemed perfect. “Pants factory” connotes “industriousness, can do, hands-on productivity,” Stern says.
Here’s what the 1,000-square-foot Pants Factory offers its members: a choice of a private office ($425/month), a dedicated desk ($300/month), or a “hot desk” which is a lounge chair or a barstool ($150/month). With this you also get the use of three phone booths—those are soundproof rooms into which you bring your own telephone or computer, printers, high-speed internet, a large conference room, a parking space, snacks and coffee.
Those who opt for a dedicated desk get just that—it’s your space to display your pictures and set up your computer. But “if you come in an hour a day you don’t need a full desk,” Stern says. In this case the “hot desk” will suffice.
When the Pants Factory was still being planned, “I’m not sure we had a grand vision of how it would work,” Stern says. Yet with the nearest shared work space of this type in Hyannis, it has worked well. And some things were unanticipated.
Stern runs GDI remotely from the Pants Factory and his wife writes here. One thing that is different from Stern’s D.C. workplace is that he was “stuck in a cohort” of people who were very close to him in age. The age range in the Pants Factory runs from 24 to the mid-70s.
“The young people like having the older, more experienced people to chat with,” he says. “The older ones like the younger ones’ energy.”
Among the members are three or four writers, a couple of local entrepreneurs—one of whom is launching a wine business – an IT consultant and other professionals. They drive in from the Lower and Outer Cape.
One of the many good things about working in an office can be the random conversation that happens at the watercooler and sparks ideas. Does this happen at the Pants Factory? In a way. One IT consultant here runs an advisory business helping organizations with their sales. A couple of the local entrepreneurs have hired her.
Stern has an option on expending the Pants Factory to the second floor of the building. He has learned that “people want more private offices and big conference rooms,” he says. “They need to have an event space.” If the Pants Factory does expand, these will be in the mix.
One of Stern’s auxiliary goals was to bring people to downtown Orleans off-season and at night. Each member is given a 24/7 key code, so they can work whenever they wish. With various breakfast spots, restaurants and bars within walking distance of the Pants Factory, many options are open for refreshments.
And as for Stern’s commute? It’s now down to six minutes each way. “That’s more time I can spend with my daughter and family,” he says.
For more information on becoming a member of the Pants Factory visit www.thepantsfactory.com.