Collect ’em all

A community of creative entrepreneurs have found a home at Reno Collective

Chelsea Otakan helps out Kelly Wallis during a Web 101: Build Your First Website in HTML and CSS class at the Reno Collective office.

Chelsea Otakan helps out Kelly Wallis during a Web 101: Build Your First Website in HTML and CSS class at the Reno Collective office.

Photo By amy beck

Reno Collective is located at 522 Lander St. For more information, visit

Reno Collective is a co-working space where 15 people regularly work. Most of them are freelancers and small-business owners. It’s near downtown Reno in a white two-story, colonial-looking building on Lander Street, having moved from its original location on Bell Street this past January. Founded in early 2010 by Colin Loretz and Ed Atkins, Reno Collective has two conference rooms, four suites, a café area, and a kitchen. Varying levels of membership are available for $150, $250 and $600. All members receive a mailing address and access to a number of necessary accessories.

They mentioned a variety of reasons for working at Reno Collective instead of a coffee shop or their homes, often sounding like television commercial testimonials. The only difference was the testaments—and co-workers’ excitement—seemed genuine.

“I love the space and the community,” said David Calvert, a Reno Collective member since day one. “I wouldn’t—excuse me—I can’t run my business without it.”

Calvert is a freelance photographer, specializing in both photojournalism and commercial photography. A few of his clients include The New York Times, the University of Nevada, Reno and the Reno Aces. He said he gets more done at Reno Collective than at home, since there are fewer distractions. He’s more productive when he can “hear the sound of other people punching keys.”

One of the reasons Calvert freelances is so he’s not confined to one city. This gives him the flexibility to choose. And he chooses Reno.

“This is a special place with unique people,” Calvert said. “I went to high school and college here. I go to Burning Man. I fish the Truckee. I buy local eggs at the [Great Basin Community] Co-op. And I hope to be here for years to come—making pictures, telling stories, meeting my neighbors.”

Lis Bartlett, a freelance videographer, didn’t mention nearly as many reasons for staying in Reno. In fact, she only had one reason for staying in town.

“I stayed in Reno because I found Reno Collective and a really supportive community,” Bartlett said. “That community really helped me gain the confidence to do freelance work.”

Bartlett grew up in Reno and moved to San Francisco for college. She returned to Reno to figure out the next step, not expecting to be lured in to stay long-term. She does personal, corporate and professional video portraits. One service she offers is love stories. These are short documentaries where couples tell of how they met and the excitement they’ve experienced since first bloom.

“I am passionate about figuring out how to best tell a person’s story, and I seem to have a natural ability to connect with people and find what makes them tick,” Bartlett said. “I didn’t do any magic. I just have a knack for sensing and showing peoples’ best sides.”

Mike Henderson, founder of Arborglyph, shares Bartlett’s enthusiasm for Reno Collective.

Reno Collective founder Colin Loretz teaches the Web 101 class at the co-working office.

Photo By Amy beck

“It can be a collaborative environment,” Henderson said. “It’s something you don’t get at home or at a coffee shop. … Plus I feel more comfortable in this environment than a place where everyone wears slacks and a tie.”

Arborglyph helps businesses and non-profits with web communication. They offer brand and social media strategy, outbound advertising and marketing, web design, and video production. Their clients range from local dentists to the Nevada Museum of Art.

Like the others, Henderson could have moved away to start his business. But he loves Reno. It’s cheap and great for an outdoors enthusiast like himself.

Community relations

It’s not just the fun atmosphere of Reno that keeps entrepreneurs and freelancers here. It’s the business benefits, as well. At least that’s how Brian Williams, founder of Think Kindness, sees it. Williams loves how well networked the business community is here. The size—not too small, not too big—allows a tight knit community, while also providing plenty of opportunity, he said.

“In Reno, everyone cares about the success of everyone else and will do what they can to help,” Williams said.

Think Kindness is a non-profit organization that promotes random acts of kindness in hopes of changing the world for the better. Williams does school tours across the country, where he not only speaks but also coordinates competitions among the students of who can do the most acts of kindness. These acts range from giving shoes to orphanages to opening doors for strangers. The organization also helps global missions, such as worldwide clean water initiatives.

Schools in Reno have been much more welcoming to these projects than elsewhere. With bullying awareness presently sweeping the nation, Williams said all kind acts, no matter how small they are, make a difference.

“We’ve had national news coverage just from what students are able to accomplish in a small 15-day period,” Williams said.

Loretz could have started a co-working place anywhere, but Reno made more sense to him. Loretz says the talent here compares to that of San Francisco or Portland. But there are a few things Reno has that other cities don’t.

According to Loretz, one thing not often found in bigger cities that is found in Reno is work-life balance. With all the outdoor activities and relaxing options at Reno’s doorstep, and much lower bills, you’re able to maintain a better work-life balance.

“I know a lot of people [in other cities] who just work, work, work,” Loretz, also a freelance web developer, said. “Reno is a little slower and still successful.”

Another thing Reno offers is mentorship. While you can also find this in big cities, it’s especially strong in Reno because of the high number of businesspeople who move to the area, especially Lake Tahoe, to retire.

“It’s almost like a support group for freelancers and entrepreneurs, where they can feel like they belong and get advice from each other,” says Loretz.