Get to know the Odendahls, their mission, and the vision they have for providing a professional resource to local and remote businesses. The first thing you’ll notice about Sara and Kent Odendahl, the founders and the owners behind Work-Collective, a boutique co-working space in Bend, Oregon, is how passionate they are about their business and the Central Oregon community.
What caused you to be interested in relocating to Bend, Oregon?
Like many locals, we have been visiting Bend for years to see family and enjoy summer vacations. We are blessed to have parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and a grandma in Bend, so it made for an easy transition.
We had our “aha” moment a couple of years ago on the return trip to Denver. We looked at each other and said simultaneously, “We could totally live here!” The decision was made, and the rest is history. Well, not really as it took the better part of a year for us to figure out just how to actually live in Bend. We were passionate about the possibility but finding the right jobs, housing, child care, school, etc, was the first hurdle we needed to overcome. We’re believers in the concept that when things are meant to be they fall into place easily, and our move certainly did just that. We found a fantastic family to sell our beloved cottage to in Denver, CO. Kent was presented with a new professional opportunity that allowed him to work remotely. We packed up a big moving truck and headed out West! Then the rest really was history. We couldn’t be happier to be here in Bend with our family, and growing business!
How has your past professional experience prepared you for owning and running your own business?
When we committed to moving to Bend, Oregon, we knew we wanted to do something different professionally. While Kent’s job allowed us the opportunity to relocate, we decided that we wanted to build a business together that could grow with us in our new hometown. In Denver, we owned a small Air BnB business and enjoyed the satisfaction (and hard work) that comes with entrepreneurship. The idea of creating a coworking community was born when we learned that a large segment of Bend’s population works remotely. Much like our move to Central Oregon, the opportunity to create this concept fell into place when we were introduced to our building owners. We talked about their vision for the Clearwater Crossing building as a hub of the NorthWest Crossing community, and with excitement, we started to see our vision come to life!
What has been the most exciting part of your transition to business owners and Bendites?
We have been blown away by how welcoming the community has been both personally and professionally. It is certainly an interesting challenge to start a business in a town where you only know your relatives, but we have met so many thoughtful people along the way. I recall looking around the room at our January ribbon-cutting party for The Collective NWX, and being overwhelmed with how many genuine friends and colleagues we had met in our short time in Bend.
Who are your current members? What types of professionals are a good fit for your space?
Our mission is to provide “Coworking For All.” The diversity of our members has proven that this statement is true of our coworking community. We plan to continue to appeal to and provide space for a diverse group of business owners and professionals. When we were doing our market research and planning, we found that many coworking spaces are focused on one type of profession or industry to create a community with common interests. We selected to take a different approach, and open our space to all remote workers seeking a place to connect and find community. In doing this, we have curated an exceptional group of hard working professionals in a variety of industries–from tech professionals to creatives to physicians practicing telemedicine; it’s an all-embracing collection of professionals.
There are connections between members happening organically, and it’s been a joy to watch it unfold. As we seek to connect to new members, our main consideration is providing a safe, quiet and professional workspace to allow people to create at their best, whatever that may look like for them.
What other organizations have you joined or partnered with since opening?
Naturally, I am a joiner, which is both enjoyable and challenging at times. I tend to over-commit my volunteer and community time. But this quality has also proved beneficial in our move and the establishment of a new business. We have already made so many wonderful and authentic connections within the business community. Given our location in NorthWest Crossing, we are actively involved with VisitNWX, our local business association. Kent has volunteered his time to help with the website and other marketing endeavors for the group.
We’ve also engaged with the Bend Chamber of Commerce, Opportunity Knocks, and EDCO. These wonderful organizations have allowed us to introduce ourselves to the greater Bend business community and meet other like-minded business owners and leaders. Last spring, when COVID was knocking at our door, we launched Work-Collective Gives Back. As a mission-driven small business, we have a heart for supporting the local nonprofit community. We are proud to partner with the organizations that enrich Central Oregon in immeasurable ways. Each quarter, we select one local nonprofit to host meetings and special events in our coworking space. Our first partner organization was the National Charity League, a philanthropic organization of mothers and daughters serving the community together through volunteerism. We were honored to help NCL – Bend launch its new chapter and start building a strong organization to serve our shared community.
What do you do in your free time?
What don’t we do? We live in Bend! Our family loves the outdoors and all the activities Central Oregon offers, most of which are literally outside our doorstep. Kent has a weekly mountain bike ride with friends he has met through our coworking office. We have taken up golfing as a family; our oldest daughter can now outdrive me! The lakes and rivers have been an amazing respite this summer and we try to do at least one activity involving water every weekend. And we have only scratched the surface. There are so many fun adventures yet to be discovered, and we’re fully on board!
Name three things you love about living and working in Bend
- The commute (or lack thereof!) – Having spent the last decade battling traffic to and from downtown Denver every day, the short drive down Mount Washington with the Cascades in the background never gets old.
- Family – While we dearly miss our friends and family in Denver, CO, we’ve had the opportunity to become closer to extended family here in Bend. I love nothing more than seeing my grandma’s face light up when she sees our girls, her great-grandkids, playing in the backyard.
- Community – In our short time as Bendites, we truly feel like we’ve found our home. We are so blessed for the friends we’ve made through our business, and the ability we have to create something meaningful.