Gumptown Spotlight: Daphne Pollard and Ossie Vaughn: Owners of The Co-Lab Collective

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By Brionna McCall, Intern

If you are a small business owner in Montgomery, Alabama looking for a space for your
business to flourish, The Co-Lab Collective is the place for you.

The Co-Lab Collective is a co-working space owned by Daphne Pollard and Ossie
Vaughn. The area offers virtual office, desk rentals, and registered agent services. It is also an indoor and outdoor event venue for dinners, family reunions, baby showers and much more.

Pollard is from Shorter, Alabama, and she initially traveled to Montgomery for college in
1998. She went to school for early childhood education but decided early on that she has an entrepreneurial spirit and always wanted to be a business owner.

“I ended up getting a degree in business, and I started out doing small events. I even
owned a poetry house at one point, but I’ve been an event producer for well over 15 years,” she said. “I think I got my entrepreneurial spirit from my dad, he’s an entrepreneur. When I started doing events in Montgomery, they started as poetry nights, and we had a small band that would perform around the city.”

Pollard had met many people around the city from her poetry nights, including Ossie
Vaughn, who would come and support her events, and they eventually became friends.

Ossie Vaughn is from Dothan, Alabama, and she moved to Montgomery for college and
earned her degree in Human Resources Management from Auburn University Montgomery. She has a virtual assistance business, so she and Pollard shared a passion for entrepreneurship.

Vaughn searched for a co-working space in 2021, and the place she looked at first did not
work out, but she fell in love with the second space she found. Not only was it a good space for co-working, but it was also a great space for Pollard to do what she does with events.

“The Co-Lab Collective is a play-on word, based on collaboration. Ossie and I are nearly
the perfect marriage of business because Ossie’s background is more business and virtual office work, and my side is more of entertainment, events, and art,” she said. “The Co-Lab was perfect because we collaborated to create this business. In this business, we want to collaborate with like-minded individuals and wanted to create a space where they felt welcomed, seen, and heard.”

According to Pollard, they need to support small businesses because it is rare to get the
support they need, especially for minority and black-owned small businesses.

“A lot of times when we come into businesses, we don’t really have the guidance. It’s
kind of hard to find out the information that you need. We also help small businesses start their business from the simple foundation of where to go, what to do. Once you find that thing, be yourself in it, give your all to it, and once you do that, help other people get to where you are or always reach back. We use this term, which I love dearly, called Sankofa,” she said. “It means ‘go back and fetch it,’ so that’s one of our mottos that we go by at the Co-Lab Collective. Always reach back and remember where you came from. Help others get to where you are because a lot of times, we don’t receive the help we feel we deserve, but always look to help others once you find the information. If you’re sincere and passionate about what you’re doing, the support will come.” 

Pollard and Vaughn want the Co-Lab Collective to have more partnerships and would
love to create a hub for small businesses development in the southeastern region.

“Our main goal right now is to continue creating successful partnerships with a lot of the
business owners,” Pollard said. “We’ve been creating some great relationships with people from all over the nation in this short time.”

According to Pollard, co-working is not very popular in Montgomery, so one of their
struggles was finding and getting clients to understand what co-working was. Though that was challenging, it was enjoyable for them to get virtual clients and provide small businesses with a business address.

“We’re one of the only black-owned/minority event venues in the downtown area next to
the riverfront. Our space has transformed and turned into a meeting space for groups coming into town to visit and work on racial injustice issues,” she said. “We would love to grow and be more of a community space so that people can do more work and have conversations about racial injustice.”

For more information about The Co-Lab Collective visit https://www.thecolab-collective.com/

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