Community & Society
Let’s be honest, men and women aren’t the same. They have different needs, priorities, and work styles. Women face their own professional, social, cultural and economic issues. Add family challenges to the mix and it gets even more complicated.
So entrepreneurs Virginia Santy and Melanie Ulle imagined the perfect office space for women. “We asked ourselves what it would look like to create a workplace designed for women from the ground up,” Santy says. “What are some of the things we would have to consider given social and professional expectations of women in the workplace and the home? How can we support women and build systems of support into a workplace rather than asking women to figure it all out on their own?”
The two dreamed of working in a space that was warm (literally, why are men’s offices always freezing cold?), safe, professional, fostered collaboration, and could accommodate the many roles that women fill every day, including raising children. Their dreams became reality when Women in Kind opened its doors in August.
Women in Kind is an inviting, open office facility where women (and men!) work in any way that suits their needs. It’s not just about having a conference room, reliable WiFi, and free parking. “We address the pain points in women’s lives,” Ulle says. Women in Kind anticipates and addresses the services women need to integrate the various aspects of their professional and family lives, including the “second shift” women work caring for their families. There is a woman-owned personal assistant business on the premises, a weekly delivery service that can provide home-cooked vegan meals and school lunches, dry cleaning, and other services to “fix the little pieces of your life that pile up,” Ulle says.
Women in Kind offers monthly memberships for occasional use of the facilities and amenities, or desks for more regular use and small offices for full-time dedicated workspace allowing tenants to “put up your bookshelves and spread out your stuff,” Ulle says. Members can use the space for meetings, to work on specific projects, or for those times that working at home is just too isolated and you need to work in the company of other creative and interesting people. You can bring your kids and “not feel like an epic failure,” on those seemingly random days when there’s no school. Women in Kind has a separate child’s play area along with quiet areas for kids to read or do homework. There are also comfortable lactation rooms, along with a culture that gets it when it comes to being a mom.
Women in Kind’s location north of City Park in Denver positions it close to the Stapleton neighborhood, where many women are balancing raising young children with their careers and professional aspirations. It’s in a vibrant area close to downtown, with a cupcake shop down the block.
“We want people to be excited when they come to Women in Kind,” Ulle says. “We want them to be excited to see each other.”
One thing Women in Kind doesn’t include is the “bro culture” found in many traditional offices. Ulle describes this as men using their outdoor voices on the phone and bonding over raucous ping-pong games in the shared spaces found in many modern office layouts. “Working mothers are trying to pack a lot of work into a short amount of time. They are focused, they use their time wisely. That doesn’t include ping-pong.”
According to Santy, women-owned businesses have grown by one-and-a-half-times the rate of other small enterprises over the last 30 years and now account for almost 30 percent of all businesses nationwide. In the U.S., over half of the 9.72 million new jobs created in the small and medium size enterprise sector by 2018 will be created by women-owned businesses. Supporting these women is good for economic development. “Mel and I both believe when you invest in women, the greater community reaps the return on that investment—thus the name of our space, Women in Kind,” Santy says.
Ulle is founder and CEO of Philanthropy Expert, LLC, a Denver-based philanthropic consulting firm. Her four-person firm offices at Women in Kind. Santy, founder and CEO of communications firm Gavia Strategies does as well.
Women in Kind’s 10-year business plan calls for four to five facilities. Ulle says the next location may be in Salt Lake City. “We’re creating community with Women in Kind,” Ulle says. “We’re not interested in just being property managers. We have high expectations of how to treat one another in our workspace. We believe this can bring about a culture shift.”
Women In Kind
3899 Jackson St., Bldg. #1, Denver, CO 80205
Monthly membership: $195
Monthly dedicated desk: $550
Monthly office rental: $1,450
Event Space Rental: $500
Conference Room Rental $160 for two hours (free for members)
Kimberly Field writes about Western history, arts and culture for local and national magazines and scholarly journals. She has written several history books and her next book is due to be published next year.
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