This Working Mom Created a Coworking Space for Women to Inspire and Elevate Each Other
When you’re a freelancer, coworking spaces can be a dream-come-true scenario for getting your work done on deadline without the distractions of your Netflix account and comfy couch. Another bonus for idyllic coworking spaces? Research has found that people who work in these types of environments are happier and more productive. In this week’s How to Quit Your Day Job series, we chat with Grace Kraaijvanger, the CEO and founder of The Hivery, a stunning coworking space in Mill Valley, CA, that’s helping working moms and women who want to start their own businesses by connecting them to mentors and offering workshops and support.
Meet the Coworking Space Pro: Grace Kraaijvanger
At 27, Grace Kraaijvanger wanted to open a dance studio in San Francisco. While searching for spaces for the studio, she started thinking about using the space for a women’s collective, as a place for women to collaborate and work, but she didn’t end up pursuing the venture. Instead, Kraaijvanger worked as a marketing executive, became a mom, and put off her dream until her mother passed away. The tragedy reconnected her with a sense of creative purpose. She made a dance film in honor of her mom and started a lunch discussion called “Women Inspiring Women.” Then, three years ago, she opened The Hivery, and the fruits of her labor are inspiring wonderful collaborations at her gorgeous coworking space in Marin County, CA.
At The Hivery, members can enjoy workshops and events, such as Wellness Wednesdays, art walks, tutorials by other members, and new member coffee chats. The space itself has large, inviting windows, a gorgeous kitchen, inspiration labs, outdoor tables for some much-needed nature, and private spaces for meetings. In 2016, The Hivery hosted an Entrepreneurs Lab to bring together like-minded women for a day of speakers and inspiration.
Brit + Co: What’s your morning routine?
Grace Kraaijvanger: Going to my favorite 6am yoga class twice per week; early morning meditation (I’m an avid fan of Deepak and Oprah 21-day meditations); and never, ever starting my day without coffee (frothed coconut milk, please!). I also like to take 10-15 minutes to write when I get the time. My favorite moments of the day are sipping my coffee before anyone else is awake. I always light a candle while I have my coffee. I added this to my morning routine a few years ago and though it’s the most simple act, it has made an enormous difference. Light a candle! It tells your mind and body this is your moment to center.
B+C: What inspired you to start your company?
GK: My inspiration to create a women’s coworking space came from a much deeper place than wanting to design a beautiful, aesthetically pleasing office; I wanted to create space for a movement and the transformation of a deep-seeded system.
We are overflowing with talent and ideas; the problem is we feel disconnected, both from each other and ourselves. I wanted to create a space that satiated the desire to feel supported, vibrant in our pursuits, and part of a community. Since The Hivery’s launch, I’ve been wholeheartedly committed to designing a new ecosystem for women to create work, business, and art in non-traditional ways that empower and embolden a change in the current system. A beautiful coworking space and “inspiration lab” is a perfect vehicle for a much larger movement in the way women work, gather, collaborate, fund each other’s ideas, make an impact, and feel a greater sense of self-worth.
Brit + Co: How does The Hivery help women get back to their passions?
GK: The Hivery environment exists solely for the expansion and elevation of each woman. New members, especially moms with small kids at home, often exclaim, “I can’t believe how much I get done here.” It’s because we’ve removed all other distractions, such as kids wanting our attention, laundry that needs to be done, and beds that need to be made. Multi-tasking and working from home has made us all feel a little isolated and crazy, as if we’re never doing anything at 100 percent. Creating a beautiful, supportive environment that was built for unleashing the potential of the individual woman recalibrates that urge to constantly be working on something else when it’s finally your time to work on yourself and your work.
When my kids were very young and I was working from home (before I built The Hivery), I took a conference call from inside my shower in a desperate attempt to get away from the playful, yet very loud sounds of a play-date and my barking dog. How could I elevate my work and living as my best self while locked in my bathroom, sitting on the floor of the shower with my laptop? I felt like I was failing — both at work and as a mom. I know I’m not the only one who has tearfully wondered how I could possibly have a career, run a business, and still be a great mom. I created The Hivery as an answer to these very real challenges. It is a place where women and mothers can feel inspired, supported, and empowered to navigate new chapters on the complex journey of life.
B+C: How do you challenge yourself as an entrepreneur?
GK: I know in my heart I was meant to do this, and that crystal clear belief helps get me through the challenges. I do challenge myself to always follow my path and not get pulled or distracted by what others are doing, or every piece of advice that comes in. I also challenge myself to always come back to my purpose or mission and let that guide my next steps. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day busy-ness or intentions of others, so I think the hardest thing to do as an entrepreneur is to stay true.
I remember it’s my vision to build a movement for women — not just a business. The tools I use to keep that in sight aren’t what they teach you in business school. I take care of my body, walk in nature, put my phone away, and write in my journal. That’s where the real stuff happens.
B+C: One of your mom members, Bree Martin, says The Hivery is a great community with mentors to help her live her dreams. Did you create The Hivery with this sense of community in mind for working moms?
GK: I created The Hivery from a very honest place inside me that felt like I needed more support, more possibility, more inspiration from other women. I couldn’t find that in a way that also integrated with my work and my desire to create my own next chapter. I certainly created The Hivery to solve this problem, and yes, it definitely meets a major need that moms have. However, the desire to feel like your work and contribution to the world matters is universal. Moms are pulled in so many different directions that it’s easy to lose sight of it, but we all need to feel like we’re making a difference at the individual level whether or not we are mothers, too.
B+C: What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
GK: “Do the next, right thing.” I learned that from Glennon Doyle’s book Love Warrior. It’s become a mantra for me and is a great way of quieting the “overwhelms” that go along with growing a business. You don’t have to do all the things at once. You just need to do the next, right thing.
B+C: Name two female heroes who you think should get a shout-out.
GK: Oprah. I adore you, Oprah! You have taught me to explore myself and continue the quest for making the biggest difference that I can in this short time on the planet. We have a running joke among The Hivery team, because I often ask them, “What would Oprah do?”
And, my younger sister, Maggie. She’s a young, beautiful, creative, vegan, food-loving 33-year old, who is battling stage three breast cancer. She’s taught me that a positive spirit goes a long way, and that honesty when things really suck, is the right course too. She can make jokes with the chemotherapy nurse that she better put margaritas in her IV bag, and then in the same breath is willing to be really honest about the difficulties of her situation. It’s the willingness to do both that I think is the truest strength of a woman. She’s finding out who she really is and digging deep to get to know her fiercely strong, yet vulnerable self, all through a process that is scary and unknown. Being by her side on the journey that is, indeed, real life, has been a massively impactful learning experience for me; and one that has taught me we’re never done revealing the depth of who we really are.
B+C: If you could tell aspiring creative women anything, what would it be?
GK: Your life is a creative process. There is no finish line and no defined outcome. You’re the one who feels like she’s standing on the edge of the cliff with nerves in your stomach and wings on your back. You’re the one who noticed that fear and exhilaration live in the same place in your belly. It’s you who knows that you have to keep going. It’s you who knows that you love getting advice, but ultimately you already know.
We need you right now. We need you more than your fears and more than your hiding strategies. The time is now; you are the one.
For Brit + Co readers in the Bay Area, The Hivery is offering a special promotion by waiving the joining fee with the code: BRITCO18. If you don’t live in the Bay Area, The Hivery will be launching a virtual membership in 2018.
What’s your dream career? Tweet us @BritandCo to let us know, and we could feature it in the next column!
(Photos via Ana Kamin)