Kimba co-working space to foster tourism, creativity

INNOVATION: Heather Baldock, Barb Woolford, Carmen Rayner and Pat Beinke of Workshop 26.
INNOVATION: Heather Baldock, Barb Woolford, Carmen Rayner and Pat Beinke of Workshop 26.

The inaugural Workshop 26 Christmas Market has given the Kimba community a first look at its new microbusiness hub.

Four Kimba couples this year formed a syndicate to purchase the old Vennings building on High Street and transform the building into a co-working space to rent to newly formed not-for-profit organisation Workshop 26.

From early 2020, microbusiness owners can rent a variety of spaces within the building, allowing them to work and sell their products from the main street of town rather than their own homes.

Since the official handover in July, work on refurbishing the building has been underway.

With sections of the building about 90 years old, Workshop 26 member Heather Baldock said a great deal of "shoveling grease" was required to transform the industrial space for its new purpose.

Two shipping containers have been installed in the back room for businesses to rent, with space remaining for up to four more.

Mrs Baldock said the renovation had attracted significant interest from the community, with people of all ages stopping by to see the progress or offer a hand.

"Lots of people see people working and just come in and have a look," she said.

"The community has really come on board."

Mrs Baldock said the main aim of Workshop 26 was to attract the range of creative microbusinesses "tucked away in back sheds and back rooms" across the Kimba district and bring them out into the open.

She said the type of businesses already committed to moving in included soap making, pottery and other arts and crafts which would make the space an interesting place for people passing through town to visit.

"We're really targeting those that create interest," she said.

"We really want to make this a must-see on the tourism trail."

She said there had been a culture of creativity in Kimba across decades, coming predominantly from farming women who had taken their creative hobbies and developed them into businesses.

Pat Beinke said bringing that culture into town would give each business an opportunity to grow, with local entrepreneurs able to bounce ideas off one another.

"We're going to create some great teams," she said.

She said the idea was already creating excitement within the community and would add vibrancy to the main street.

"It's another building that's being occupied," she said.

Renovation efforts were ramped up ahead of the Christmas market on December 5, where local businesses were invited to set up stalls throughout the building for the first time.

A strong crowd attended the event from noon into the evening including out-of-town visitors from as far as Port Lincoln who were excited to see the progress.

In preparation for the event, Carmen Rayner moved part of her soap business Millbrae Makes into one of the shipping containers which she will be renting as both her workshop and shopfront.

She said the opportunity to move her business out of her home would be a "revelation" for her business and personal life.

"I can justify the expense of hiring a studio space for all the benefits it will bring to my life," she said.

Mrs Rayner said she was looking forward to being able to physically separate her work life from her home life, allowing more space both metaphorically and physically for her family.

"I can't wait to be able to take my business out of my home and be present for my kids," she said.

She said the community response from visitors at the market was overwhelmingly positive.

"The delight I think I'm seeing on people's faces is really fabulous," she said.

"People are getting excited and want to join in the fun."

Renovation efforts are set to continue throughout summer with an official opening tentatively planned for February or March next year.