We had the good fortune of connecting with Fiona Arnold and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Fiona, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I had spent my career in corporate roles and was at the point where I just fundamentally did not agree with the underlying business philosophies. I wanted to approach building and running a company from a very different perspective that did not start and stop with the bottom line, but rather approached every question from the angle of what is best for the community, the individual, the employee, the piece of land etc and dream about what it could be then figure out how to make it pencil. I truly believe that if we want to accomplish the changes we desire in our communities we need “for profit” companies to be an integral part otherwise we’ll never get there.
What should our readers know about your business?
Our business is a bit hard to describe or easily fit into a category. Generally it is a real estate and business development company. We are definitely rooted in physical places and community, but other than that are willing to explore just about anything. Every concept and idea starts first with what it “could be.” We dream big about real estate development ideas and business ideas thinking through what it could be, how it would contribute to a community or quality of life, and then we turn to how to make the whole thing pencil. Rather than starting with the pro forma and how to yield the highest return which then dictates what you can do. We also believe that the “return” on a project is not just the financial return but includes a wide variety of intangibles – how it adds to our portfolio, how it is additive to the immediate and broader community, how it accomplishes broader goals (for example paths to home ownership). If you redefine the return you are seeking you can dream about, invest in and accomplish much different outcomes.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Everything independent and Denver! Here are a couple of days: Day One: RiNo – breakfast at Stowaway, walk the alleys and walls, grab pizza from Vero in Central Market, afternoon poking around shopping the independent stores, happy hour at Queens Eleven (ours, so naturally) and dinner at Safta at The Source Hotel, if its winter explore Side Stories in the evening, then on to a night cap at Death & Co and stay at the Ramble Hotel Day Two: LoDo/Platte Street – breakfast at Blue Sparrow Coffee on Platte Street (ours!), over the bridge into Lo-Do to spend time at MCA Denver, long slow lunch at Tavernetta sitting at the bar, explore Union Station, browse books at Tattered Cover, drinks and dinner at Room for Milly
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My father undoubtedly set me on my career path. To describe him as a feminist wouldn’t be accurate, he’s really a humanist and just didn’t see the difference in what his daughters and son could or should accomplish. He turned down private school for my brother because my grandfather wouldn’t pay for it for the girls. So we all went to the same shitty public school where we lived. Talk about set the example! Consequently I never doubted that I could do anything a man could do and anything I set my mind to. Along the way in my career I’ve been fortunate to work with people I both admire and people I do not. You learn something from all of them and it is all good and necessary to round out your own leadership and business style.
Instagram: @mainspringcollection @backyardonblake @roomformilly @queenseleven @bluesparrowcoffee @mainspringhomes @happyhrhandbook
Olaiya Land (Room for Milly and Blue Sparrow Coffee) Ignite Images (headshot) Joshua Perez (Queens Eleven) David Patterson (The Orpheus)