When Felena Hanson started exploring co-working spaces for her own marketing business, she found (in her own words), “dudes in skinny jeans with headphones and rock music playing in the background.”
In a video interview, Hanson says she knew there had to be demand for something beyond spaces targeted to a millennial, male-focused, techy demographic. A spa-like work space for women? Lenders and building owners were hesitant. But Hanson pressed on, opening the first Hera Hub – giving a nod to Hera, the Greek goddess of women – in San Diego in 2011.
With a handful of locations in southern California and a recently opened franchise in Washington, D.C., Hera Hub calls itself a “tranquil, yet professional, co-working space designed by and for women.” Members buy a package of monthly hours and have access to work spaces, meeting and conference rooms, and business tools like Wi-Fi and video conferencing. Beyond the tangible, members are offered online support, contact with subject-matter professionals who donate time and expertise, and monthly events like lunches and a business book club.
Co-working centers are rocketing in popularity – Small Business Labs’ global coworking forecast says 1 million professionals will be co-working in more than 12,000 global coworking spaces by 2018. To add perspective, that’s about the equivalent of every white-collar employee in the entire state of Indiana.
Women-focused co-working spaces are gaining popularity across the country. In Good Company is a shared workspace in Manhattan that offers women workspaces, mentorship and partnership programs, and up to 15 classes a month on business topics. In Philadelphia, The Hive is a 900-square-foot-space that provides entrepreneurs “of all ages and backgrounds a space to work and a community full of like-minded women.”
Are you working in a co-working center designed especially for women? What makes it work for you? Sound off in the comments and share your feedback.