A coaching success story: the birth of Orange Coworking

A freelance graphic designer since forever, my life took a huge shift when I met my husband and we decided to start a family. As baby approached, I handed off my design clients one-by-one to other designers, so I’d be able to take a maternity leave. Then it happened!
Feedings all hours of the night… I even followed a twitter feed of other sleep-deprived nursing moms. Diaper changes, swaddling, swaying and shushing.  Betwixt and between, helping out my serial-entrepreneur husband with all the marketing and design work for his newborn sunglasses company. I barely left the house! Then we moved to Austin, to be nearer to family. Living in a new place, still new to motherhood, my only client was my husband — the walls began to close in and I thought: “I’ll work a little more. OUTSIDE my home, if you don’t mind. Sanity is calling my name.”

Ummmm, but work at what, exactly? Maybe not what I used to do. I wasn’t feeling inspired to ramp up a design practice again. Well, let’s find a suitable place to do my work, whatever form that takes and inspiration may strike – and like Mary Poppins, in came an amazing coach.
Having never worked with a coach before, it was fascinating to work through a process of self-discovery and vision-finding. Wheels turned. Skills were assessed. Coach Heidi Schlenk set me on this path, as we together explored the lists of concerns, choices, opportunities from “Yes, please” to “You’ve GOT to be kidding me” and the “Oh, hell NO.” items for potential work opportunities and job components. 

I was having trouble finding focus at home, with my husband and little one also in the house. The chairs at the coffee shop were killing me. Lightbulb moment! Whatever I was going to do next professionally, there had to be a place to do it. As I searched for a non-home spot to do my yet-to-be-determined work, I noticed there were no good options near my home in “way south Austin.” 

As Heidi encouraged me to envision what it would be like to open and nurture a coworking community, I could see it more and more clearly. And as we art-journaled, the vision for Orange rose out of the swirls of paint and words strewn across paper. 

A year of research, business planning, a crash course in How Commercial Real Estate Works (stories better shared with adult beverages), and a location 5 minutes from home was procured.
Spin the clock hands forward quickly, and a year later we cut the ribbon in front of Orange Coworking in way south Austin. My home-away-from-home, we have built a vibrant community of eclectic, smart, accomplished, creative, entrepreneurial, successful Nice Humans. We have a variety of coaches in our community, and I am thrilled to know them all.

I know that working with my coach Heidi started me down the path to here, where my true calling lies. Who knows how long it would have taken me to meander down this path, if I found it at all, without her skillful nudging and questioning? So I am always happy when I see one of our member coaches meeting with a client, and I always hope it’s the day they have their “lightbulb moment” that leads them to their next level.


Shelley Delayne Siracusa is a Mom, a loving wife, a capable though semi-retired graphic designer, and the proud proprietor of Orange Coworking, now open in south Austin. You can reach her at: hello@orangecoworking.com .