10/25/16 8:59am
Photo: New Women's Space

Photo: New Women Space

“I feel different when I’m in a room of all women,” says Melissa Wong, co-founder of New Women Space, sitting with Sandra Hong, her co-founder, in the light-filled East Williamsburg storefront they’ve dedicated to female empowerment.

The 2100-square-foot, bi-level space is calming and minimalist with plants and comfortable couches and sunshine streaming in the floor-to-ceiling windows. New Women Space offers events and workshops, each affordably priced at $10-$50, focusing on a variety of topics ranging from yoga to comedy nights to financial and career advice to collaging and other creative projects. It is, as the founders put it, “a space for women to define.”

The idea of physical spaces specifically for women is having a moment in 2016. The Wing, a women’s only social club and co-working space, is now holding court in the Flatiron District. It may also be all over your Instagram feed, too, thanks to the PR wizardry of co-founders Lauren Kassan, who previously worked for Class Pass and Audrey Gelman, a communications specialist who helped NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer appeal to a broad audience.

In Washington, D.C. and California, there’s the Hera Club, a women’s-only co-working space and business accelerator. The Wing is application-based, and those who are accepted must pay the $185 membership fee, and the Hera Club’s membership plans vary by location, but can run anywhere from $89 per month to nearly $500 depending on the size of the office space required.

There’s a considerably lower barrier to entry at New Women Space. The only application process required is for instructors and potential event organizers. Anyone who wants to attend an event needs only to pay an admission fee that’s often as low as $10. “We are here for women of all experiences,” Wong emphasizes.

New Women Space also defines itself as “gender expansive,” meaning that men, and all gender identities, are allowed at all events unless otherwise specified. “We want men to be a part of the conversation,” says Wong. “But we do want all the content providers/project cultivators to be women since that is the audience we are particularly concerned with providing support for.” (more…)

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09/01/15 11:20am
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The café at Freehold is designed for working. Photo: Elaheh Nozari

When you walk into Freehold, a coffeeshop, bar and all-around venue that opened on Williamsburg’s south side last month, the first thing you see on the menu board, below the wifi password, is an unattributed quote: “If you always do what you love, at least one person is pleased.” (A Google search identifies Katharine Hepburn as its speaker.)

It neatly sums up the vibe of the place–this is where you come to work on your passion project, and if you’re one of the lucky, entrepreneurial few whose passion project is also their career, then you’re Freehold’s target demographic.

The day-to-night hang spot on S. 3rd and Wythe is a hybrid between a members-only club like SoHo House and the lobby of a boutique hotel, like the Ace, but it lacks the exclusivity (or membership fee) of the former and the tourists of the latter. It’s egalitarian and welcoming, if very cool feeling. A sense of belonging comes not from an actual membership, but from the comfort of being able to spend an extended stretch of time working there without worrying whether you’ve ordered enough lattes and croissants, which is what I did for a few days to see if this was the freelance workspace of my dreams.

(more…)

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05/06/14 9:00am

Makeshift Society opened its first East Coast work space on May 1 in Williamsburg. Photo: Makeshift

Makeshift Society opened its first East Coast work space on May 1 in Williamsburg. Photo: Makeshift

Even by co-working standards, Makeshift Society’s new work space on Hope Street is an anomaly in how very chill it is. For Bryan Boyer, Makeshift’s founder, his company is as much about altering the way we think about our work environments, even non-traditional ones, as it is about creating them.

“If you look at the rhetoric of a lot of co-working spaces, it’s about getting away from the corporate grind,” he says. “It’s about changing the way that we work, but then you actually look at the space and the offering and it’s exactly like an office but you don’t have a boss anymore. That’s a big thing–not having a boss is great–but there’s more to it than that. What we’re trying to do is think about the way that the culture of work is changing and how we can be part of that bigger movement.”

That means doing away with co-working fail-safes like Ikea tables and white walls for starters. Even Beyonce would be surprised by the lack of partitions in this place. In lieu of the traditional trappings of an office, Makeshift positions itself to be more like another model freelancers have become familiar with–a coffice–though it’s a comparison Boyer isn’t entirely comfortable with. He considers Makeshift to be more of a clubhouse for creative types.
(more…)

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07/30/13 12:46pm

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We’ve been working at The Yard on the Williamsburg-Greenpoint border this summer and have found that that having an office in a co-working space makes us more organized and more professional. We also love being able to have face-to-face meetings daily, and, well, the amazing air conditioning. We wanted to get to know some of our co-workers in the space, so we started this series Who Works at The Yard? Kicking it off is Ryan Zagata, of Brooklyn Cruiser

Tell us about your business, what do you do?
Brooklyn Cruiser is a city bike brand designing approachable and stylish bicycles and bicycle accessories for the urban cyclist. I am the president of the company.

How did you get into that–what did you do before?
I had sold software for over 15 years and was heading for a burn out. I had been looking for a city bike and stumbled upon a segment of the market that was being underserved from both a quality and value perspective. We aren’t the first urban bike brand by any stretch of the imagination but we like to think that what we are delivering from both a quality and value perspective is far and away better than anything else in the market.

It is refreshing to wake up each morning knowing that my efforts and decisions directly impact our small team. Having people collectively relying on each other’s efforts for the success of the company is beyond exhilarating. We are fortunate to have pulled together a brilliant team.

How long have you been working at The Yard?
We have been at The Yard for almost a year

As a small business owner, how does working at a co-working space help you or change your work life?
The Yard has been a great opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and share ideas with other budding brands who face similar challenges day in and day out. We also love to collectively celebrate each other’s successes.

Any words of advice for people out there who are starting businesses or trying to go freelance from their job?
My go to mantra, and it’s certainly not original, has always been “Done is Better than Perfect.” When starting or growing a brand or service, I’m of the mindset that it’s best to get your product or service out into the real world as quickly as possible–there’s no better judge than an actual consumer with money in their hand. From there you can iterate and scale up or down as the market demands. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and money and you’ll know a lot sooner if you have a viable product or service that people will actually pay for.

What’s the best thing you’ve done so far this summer and what are you still looking forward to doing?
We just returned from a week away with the extended family. We head down to Cape May, N.J. each year and stay in a massively beautiful old Victorian house in an attempt to erase the miles between us and turn back the clock to a time when we were all under one roof. Lots of ice cream, porch time and card games. I’m looking forward to trying to sneak in another getaway before sweater season grabs hold.