Coworking spaces for women seem to be popping up all over these days. The Hivery, one of these spaces, was founded as more than merely a space for women to come and work: “If we can support women in unleashing their unique gifts to this world, and we do that two thousand times, and we continue year after year, we will have made a difference,” says founder Grace Kraaijvanger.
Kraaijvanger founded The Hivery three years ago in the San Francisco Bay area as a collaborative and creative coworking space for women to pursue their work, passions, ideas and what's next. Prior to opening the space, Kraaijvanger was working as a marketing executive. As she coped with the recent loss of her mother, she realized she was dealing with the pain by throwing herself into work -- but with a nagging feeling that she was really meant to be doing something else.
As an exploration to find that "purpose," she looked into ways to express herself artistically, and found she was not alone. “The more I expressed myself, the more I realized there were other women who felt just like me, who felt stuck and needed a community of other inspiring women to create, to express, to help each other in this story called life,” Kraaijvanger recalls.
“Women who wanted to change careers, start a business, go back to work, or take time off to pursue a passion - there was no ‘space,’ both literally and metaphorically, for women to find and create meaningful work that was outside the ‘work’ norms. From that creative questioning, The Hivery was born.”
Initially, The Hivery was housed in a small space shared with an art gallery -- but it’s now migrated to a larger, more visible home with floor-to-ceiling windows. Kraaijvanger says that this new space allows the company to step into its vision in a more public way. “Metaphorically,” she says, “we were upholding our vision that what women are doing in our space is brave and bold.”
The Hivery’s presence certainly seems to be resonating with the public. This past year, their membership has grown by more than 400%, hosted more than 70 events and workshops, and welcomed more than 2,000 people through their doors. Post-election, they've grown 250%, and they recently organized more than 300 people on 7 buses to participate in the Women's March in San Francisco. Kraaijvanger anticipates that The Hivery will host more than 4,000 people this year through their planned programming, and they have plans to expand to two additional locations in 2017.
With its rapid growth, The Hivery has also expanded its social mission; this year, The Hivery announced a “We Rise Scholarship,” which honored women working in the local community to resolve equality issues. After receiving so many amazing applications, they ended up championing two women with scholarships and six finalists with complimentary community memberships.
The Hivery community is made up of a diverse range of women. Many members have changed careers or life paths in a dramatic way. Some have taken time off from their careers to raise kids and are contemplating going back to work; some are starting a new business or exploring a new field. “We understand how these big changes can lead to feeling isolated or stuck,” Kraaijvanger says. “That's why we've created opportunities to connect with like-minded women, programs and tools designed to jumpstart your next chapter, and the inspiration and motivation to pursue your passions.”
In the spring of 2016, in an effort to further foster a sense of community, The Hivery launched a concierge program. It offers women the chance to come in twice a week to greet members and offer assistance in exchange for unlimited membership. This has helped boost the community on multiple levels; in addition to providing extra advice to The Hivery members, it allows concierges to explore their creative talents.
Ultimately, the community is about fostering growth and inclusion. “Each of us has something special to contribute to our society, our communities, and our world...and impact happens at both the micro and macro level,” Kraaijvanger says. “The Hivery certainly isn't telling women what to think or do...we are creating a safe platform and community for individuals to dig deep and contribute their special talents that make the world a more beautiful, loving and safe place.”
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