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Downtown Newport Space Transformed for Coworking Opportunities

In Newport on Monmouth Street, a new co-working space called Borderlands is now open, run by two friends, Darrin Murriner and John Willis.

Murriner is a co-founder of an UpTech company and he wanted a place to call home after that program concluded (UpTech is the Covington-based informatics start-up accelerator). Willis is a professional photographer whose work requires him to travel the world and shoot in different countries across the globe.

Willis had been in the space at 842 Monmouth since 2012, but still did a lot of his office work in the basement of his home. Both realized there was a need in their professional lives that a co-working space could fill.  

“My wife has been working out of the house for the last eight years and she and I had been talking about how great it would be if we had a space that we could work together in because I quit my job at the end of July,” Murriner said.

“With the office in my basement at home, I realized that business is not designed to function in isolation. It just suffocates itself, so when Darrin threw out the call about trying to do something together with co-working, it seemed like a conversation worth entertaining and here we are,” Willis added.

Borderlands began as a storefront with one huge room making up the whole space. Once the tandem agreed to turn it into a co-working space, they had new private offices built. From there, they added smaller privacy booths for people to field conference calls, created conference rooms for meetings, and installed cool, rustic design elements for the chairs, tables, and other interior decor. Covington design firm BLDG has been commissioned by Borderlands to develop graphics for the office spaces.

“There are a lot of personal touches in this, too. There is an old shop table from a middle school in south-central Kentucky and we glaze coated that and put some pipes and stuff on it. I feel like there are a lot of personal things that we have added throughout the space,” Murriner said.

Also in the space is a large open area for seminars or special events, separated by a wall from the other work spaces. There is a stainless steel kitchen area, two restrooms and vintage lockers for personal belongings. There are also multiple electric outlets, wireless internet, and most everything else professionals require.

“We wanted a place where we can hold each other a little bit more accountable. When you’re a freelancer or independent artist or small business owner, having other people that you can lean into for just knowledge and resources and helping build business and get referrals, all that kind of stuff is just really important. Being a small business owner can feel lonely sometimes, so having some accountability and a place to share successes with is what we’re trying to create with the space. We’re probably about 80 percent done, and we have a couple of people that are working out of here on a regular basis, but we could easily get to fifteen,” Murriner said.

Obtaining a place near the urban core of Northern Kentucky was important to both men and since there was no other business similar to Borderlands in Campbell County, Newport was the perfect fit.

“I’ve been in the studio for over three years and I’m really excited about what’s going on in Newport,” Willis said. “I do a lot of travel as a photographer shooting outside of the country so I moved my office from home and was still keeping this space and now I’m at the point where I want people around me.”

“I was looking at a different space in Fort Thomas and it wasn’t ideal,” Murriner explained. “I don’t think Fort Thomas is a great place to do co-working. I preferred to be at a place like Monmouth Street. So the more John and I kept talking, the more it was clear that this just made sense.” 

Not only does the space provide a place to work outside the home, but within the space, members can move around to different areas to avoid the daily doldrums that sometimes comes with an average work space.

“I think more and more, people are looking for different spaces,” Murriner said. “If I am sitting at that table over there for a couple of hours, if I want to change my environment, I can walk over here to the couch and have a completely different environment. I think people are looking for a place to shake them out of their creative complacency.”

For those who suspect parking may be a problem along Monmouth, both founders of Borderlands were quick to point out that there are limited spaces with meters in the business districts and that there are two free public parking lots nearby for their guests and members.

Monthly price points start at $69 for one day a week and up to $379 for a dedicated office space. There are two available right now and there are other options, too. 

“We tried to create three or four different options. The studio and event space runs at $450 a day, though members could rent the space for less than that at a discount,” Willis said.

As a promotion, Murriner and Willis offered a one-day free pass to the space to anyone who reads about their business in this article. Interested readers just need to visit TheBorder.Land to submit a request through the site’s contact form. Make sure to let them know that you read about the co-working space on The River City News.

Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor  

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