Metro Nashville Alcornites Ila Foster and Stacey Warren-Lanier team up to start new co-working business, The Atelier

Two Alcorn State University alumni are the owners of a new innovative business venture that provides shared office space for professionals in Nashville, Tennessee.

Dr. Ila Foster ’98 and Stacey Warren-Lanier ’92, who earned bachelor’s degrees in biology and psychology from Alcorn, are the co-owners of The Atelier, a co-working space for psychotherapists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and life coaches.

The business offers a venue for clinicians to independently own and operate their private practices through a fully equipped and furnished space. Foster is a licensed chiropractor, and Lanier is a licensed professional counselor.

The innovative establishment is an opportunity for the businesswomen to pay it forward to up and coming entrepreneurs searching for a space to jumpstart their careers.

“It feels amazing because our business gives other wellness professionals the ability to start and grow their businesses in a supportive environment,” said Foster.

Besides affordable office space, the Alcornites are providing a place for independent professionals to work freely without having to worry about many of the risks and challenges associated with starting a new business. It is also designed to promote camaraderie, business development, and assist in providing a space for professional encouragement.

“The Atelier is an ecosystem where wellness professionals incur less start-up risk and out of pocket expenses,” said Lanier. “They have access to practice coaching and the support of other business owners who are all vested in each other’s success.”

Foster and Lanier realized early in their careers that working for someone else wasn’t as fulfilling as having a business of their own. The two preferred more independence and freedom to live a more gratifying lifestyle. Their desire is what inspired them to become entrepreneurs.

“Early in our careers, in working for others, we both realized being an employee didn’t fit the lifestyles we wanted,” said Foster.

“As employees, we gained valuable skills that allowed us to become entrepreneurs. The autonomy of owning our business provides us with the freedom to take risks and live the lives we desire,” said Lanier.

The ladies spent countless hours and long days working to bring their business idea to life. The two reflected on the steps they took that led to their current success.

“After coming up with the idea, we had strategic planning meetings that focused on creating a business plan, looking for a space to rent, and meeting with our attorney on all legal matters,” said Foster.

“We also met with our accountant to help with start-up costs, financial projections, and other financial priorities. We met with a marketing professional to create our logo, website, and marketing plan. Then, we furnished the space once the lease was signed,” said Lanier.

Reflecting on The Atelier story, the entrepreneurs would be remiss to mention how instrumental their alma mater has been in helping to prepare them for their current success. The ladies are grateful for the valuable teachings and experiences they received at Alcorn.

“We credit Alcorn as being one of the pillars of our foundations. We received an excellent education, and our time on the yard taught us the importance of community and connection, among many other things,” said Foster.

“We learned to be resourceful, creative, resilient, and how to work hard while enjoying life,” said Lanier.

Foster and Lanier plan to expand their business throughout middle Tennessee and later venture into the southeastern region, which includes Jackson, Mississippi.

For information about the business, please visit to learn more.