Ashley Stiles of Windsor combines design with development

WINDSOR — Unlike many of her counterparts, Ashley Stiles of Windsor dives into her development projects from a design instead of a financial or legal perspective.

Ashley Stiles

“I flip it on its head,” said Stiles, CEO and founder of Tribe Development Co. LLC, a real estate consulting and development firm headquartered in Windsor. “When I think of projects, I come at them from more of a creative design aspect, and I develop a financial proforma to support that.”

Instead of starting with a financial model and adding in the other components from there, Stiles asks what makes a project compelling and attractive. She keeps the user in mind, while also identifying how to fill a market need from a community perspective. Her aim is to create a balance between the performance of a project and its design and to develop better spaces and experiences for tenants, visitors and the community.

“It’s a bit different, but I think it results in better projects,” Stiles said. 

Stiles founded Tribe Development in March 2019 after gaining more than 18 years in client-facing roles. Most of her experience is in development, where she has held a variety of roles in project and business development, architecture and planning for various product types, including commercial, industrial, multi-family and hospitality. 

Initially, Stiles worked as a landscape architect focused on luxury resorts and then moved into development with her latest role as vice president of development for McWhinney, a full-service real estate development, investment and management company, where she worked from 2014 to 2019. She also served as director of development for Broe Real Estate Group, a private equity fund with a real estate platform, and director of project development for Roche Constructors Inc., a national general contractor firm. She has a bachelor of science degree in landscape architecture and a master of business administration in finance and capital management. 

With Tribe, Stiles mainly works on development projects in the West but has clients across the nation with the majority of her projects in Denver. She takes a holistic approach to her projects, engaging in planning, architecture, art and the right mix of uses. She develops places that go beyond a singular project to create and cultivate communities, while also elevating the user experience. She is engaged in placemaking, creating more than a pretty place but solving problems and fulfilling the desires of the communities where her projects are located.

To do this, Stiles studies the communities to identify their historic and current elements to incorporate into her designs, bringing in that “important layer of storytelling to help create a place that is unique,” she said. An artist who works in mixed media and portraiture, she enlists community artists to amplify a project’s story visually while also providing greater exposure for the artist. By telling the stories of the community and creating a strong project brand, the users will be more engaged and even become project ambassadors, she said. 

“You start to tell a very rich story that’s reflective of the community that also gets to be inspirational and aspirational,” Stiles said. “Other than that, they’re just buildings. Architecture only takes you so far. The storytelling has to be done through art and the branding of the place.” 

Stiles calls what she does being a cultural curator, expanding “on the specific story and brand of a place to create and facilitate meaningful social engagements and experiences,” as stated on her website, www.tribedevco.com.

“You create a vision of what you want the project to be and where you feel it’s an additive to the community,” Stiles said.

Stiles hires design teams to execute that vision, working with sub-consultants in architecture, engineering, art, marketing and branding. She partners with NINE dot ARTS, a Denver-based consulting and curating company, to create art experiences and installations for each of her projects. She also partners with AOR Inc., a Denver-based branding, marketing and website agency, to help with the naming, messaging and visual identities of those projects.

Currently, Stiles is consulting for a mixed-use project in Salt Lake City and Colorado State University in Fort Collins, which is creating a campus for the National Western Center redevelopment. 

“The CSU System will open Spur at the National Western Center in the coming years, and we understand the importance of intentionality on our new campus,” said Amy Parsons, executive vice chancellor of the CSU System. “Ashley brought placemaking to life for our team. She integrated into our team seamlessly and has used her passion and expertise to develop an inspirational and timeless campus built for the public. We can’t imagine doing a project like this without her.”

Stiles came up with the name of her company, Tribe Development, to reflect her Native American roots — she is a member of the Chickasaw Nation. She finds that being part of a team, or a tribe, leads to better ideas and problem-solving than trying to do it all alone. 

“The design world is about creating community. It’s about placemaking and community and about being part of something bigger than the self,” Stiles said. “I like to say that all the people I work with become members of the tribe.”

Stiles is a minority as a Native American business owner and as a woman working in the development realm. She wants those she works with to have a voice regardless of their experience in development.

“I want different voices in the room that typically hadn’t been there,” Stiles said. “With that diversity comes a greater range of thought that we get to use with a project that only makes it better.”

With women in particular, Stiles wants to encourage them to take risks and to not be afraid, realizing they can go for something without it having to be perfect first, she said. 

“You need to take that leap and believe in yourself,” Stiles said.

Stiles took that leap herself, she said.

“I’ve always been an entrepreneur and knew at some point in my career I wanted to do this,” Stiles said. “I’m an artist, and I always knew I would be in creative industries. My nontraditional path is something I try to talk about. I’m open to new experiences and things outside of the business world.”

© 2020 BizWest Media LLC

WINDSOR — Unlike many of her counterparts, Ashley Stiles of Windsor dives into her development projects from a design instead of a financial or legal perspective.

Ashley Stiles

“I flip it on its head,” said Stiles, CEO and founder of Tribe Development Co. LLC, a real estate consulting and development firm headquartered in Windsor. “When I think of projects, I come at them from more of a creative design aspect, and I develop a financial proforma to support that.”

Instead of starting with a financial model and adding in the other components from there, Stiles asks what makes a project compelling and attractive. She keeps the user in mind, while also identifying how to fill a market need from a community perspective. Her aim is to create a balance between the performance of a project and its design and to develop better spaces and experiences for tenants, visitors and the community.

“It’s a bit different, but I think it results in better projects,” Stiles said. 

Stiles founded Tribe Development in March 2019 after gaining more than 18 years in client-facing roles. Most of her experience is in development, where she has held a variety of roles in project and business development, architecture and planning for various product types, including commercial, industrial, multi-family and hospitality. 

Initially, Stiles worked as a landscape architect focused on luxury resorts and then moved into development with her latest role as…