“We are not women-only. We are female focused.” – Felena Hanson, Founder of Hera Hub
Last year, the coworking industry had an uproar when two Australian men decided to open a gender-specific workspace, exclusively for men. It made us all think of Victorian era Gentlemen’s Clubs. Yet, when women-only workspaces have opened, the usual response is that of cheering them on and encouraging these spaces.
And although it’s easy to see why this happens, it’s not necessarily the best approach. Which is why I particularly am fond of Hera Hub’s philosophy.
Female Focused, But All-Inclusive
“We are not women-only. We are female focused, and there is a difference. It’s not about being exclusive and shutting certain people out, it’s about creating an environment that’s beautiful, safe, supportive, and allows women to connect with a group of like-minded people and balance work and family.”
Granted, if you walk into a Hera Hub, you will feel that ‘female’ vibe. “It’s a tone that’s hard to explain, but the design, the layout, the experience is definitely different from other flexible workspaces. My goal and vision is to provide women an environment where they can be open and vulnerable. There’s no denying that business can be challenging, especially for women, and sometimes we feel that we have to have our you know what together, at all times. Not in Hera Hub. We encourage members to have discussions about failure and challenges, to open up about how we feel and to provide each other with resources that can support us.”
When asked about why she chose to focus on women while still allowing men to be a part of the community, Felena explained that “we need men to be a part of our (female) business conversation. Approaching business is a collaborative effort, and we can all support one another if we switch our competitive and exclusive mindsets. This has become one of the core aspects of Hera Hub.”
The Hera Hub Community
Hera Hub’s approach is unique not only in how it embraces women and welcomes men, but also in how it sets up in different neighborhoods and communities. When it comes to growth and expansion, Felena has found the Licensing Model to hit all the right spots.
“We chose the licensing model vehicle as opposed to doing company owned because I know and realize that I am not the ideal woman to lead a community in Phoenix or Stockholm, or anywhere else where we open. One of the goals of Hera Hub is to empower women in the US and globally. The licensing model allows me and Hera Hub to do this by giving someone that’s as passionate as I am the opportunity to build their own space, their own community.”
Then again, she also highlights the issue that business is done differently in different places, and what might work in California might not work in Arizona, or Sweden. Local women that set up their own Hera Hub will know how to best approach the marketing, the reaching out to the local community, and the different types of events that might resonate the most in their particular city. “It’s an entrepreneurial environment we’re building, and that is invaluable.”
Women Will Change The Way Business Is Done
Another core aspect of Hera Hub is its network from city to city. “Women will change the way business is done; the more we can grow and empower other women, the more we will be able to revolutionize the business environment.”
To do this, we need not only safe spaces, but also the right resources and tools. “I have a background in education, yet I find that the traditional college setting isn’t always the most effective. At Hera Hub, we’ve weaved in a significant amount of education into the daily business. A lot of what we do has to do with business development, and also wellness (although the latter is not our main approach).
Hera Hub’s commitment to education and to helping women succeed has expanded well beyond the workspace brand. “Our sister organizations and nonprofits Hera Labs and Hera Angels are dedicated to educating women in business. The first is a grant funded organization that supports programming to help women launch their business.” It’s an incubator and accelerator of sorts that offers a 12-week formal program. The latter, Hera Angels, is an organization that teaches women how to become angel investors.
“Our goal is two-fold,” Felena concluded. “To educate women on how to position their business for equity and investment. The second goal is to inspire women and educate women on how to invest in initiatives they believe in.”