First female co-working space in Norman offers community, encouragement for local businesswomen
Originally published at OU Daily Nov. 12 2017
Kylie Hubbard slouches comfortably with her legs crossed while sitting in a cushioned, light gray chair, a white knit blanket hanging loosely over the back.
Other women join her in the sofa corner. On the maroon couch to her right sits Mary Sullivan, who owns a local apothecary line, while professional wedding photographer Lydia Royce sits on a grey chair opposite Hubbard. Miranda Jones, a local doula, pulls up a white roll-away chair. Hubbard enthusiastically chats with members as they laugh together, offer ideas and discuss collaboration on their upcoming business ventures.
What seems like a group of women spending time catching up on a living room couch is actually an office space. They are sitting in The Coop, the first female co-working office in Norman, which Hubbard founded in 2016.
An office away from home
Nestled next to Moxie Shop on East Main, The Coop is an office space and co-working community for businesswomen and entrepreneurs. According to Hubbard, this office space creates an atmosphere of togetherness all the while allowing members to pursue their business endeavors on their own time and in a space that won’t distract them from their goals.
The concept of The Coop is mirroring a national trend of women’s work spaces. According to USA Today, women’s workspaces are a growing trend. From New Women Space in Brooklyn, New York, to The Hivery in Mill Valley, California, these types of workspaces are popping up around the country.
Hubbard, a local wedding and event planner and an OU alumna, was working out of her home with her two young daughters when she realized the need for her own workspace. She found it difficult to be a home-based business and also discovered the loneliness of working alone after the years of co-working with others at college. That’s when she stumbled upon The Collective.
The Coop is a sister space to The Collective, a female co-working space in Edmond started by Amber Klunzinger.
Prior to The Collective, Klunzinger was a wellness coach with two children at home. She had no space to conduct business, so she often found herself in coffee shops. Klunzinger discovered that she needed a quiet space of her own where she could conduct her business.
She had seen coed co-working spaces that were large, chaotic and industrial looking. Klunzinger saw a need for a smaller space where women could conduct their business in a place of their own.
“I wanted people to have a home office away from home, plus friends,” Klunzinger said.
After The Collective opened in June of 2016, women from all across Oklahoma reached out to her about their need for a similar space. Hubbard discovered The Collective last year when her calligraphy group held a meeting in the space.
After meeting Klunzinger and experiencing The Collective, Hubbard felt a connection to the space and knew she needed a space like it in her own life. Klunzinger mentored Hubbard through the logistics of opening her own space. Because the The Coop is a sister space to The Collective, members are welcome to use each other’s spaces.
Sense of Community
For Hubbard, the most important aspect of The Coop is the community and the spirit of women encouraging each other. When members join, they sign a value statement among which are agreeing to encouragement, community and teamwork with other members. A few of their key values are presence, kindness, abundance and generosity.
“It’s about community and bringing women together, and how we can encourage women entrepreneurs,” Hubbard said.
Lydia Royce and Miranda Jones, two members of The Coop, sit at a wooden table in white, swivel chairs next to each other.
Prior to joining The Coop, Royce rented a small, isolated office space to work from. The Coop’s structure of purposeful community and collaboration with other members is an ideal working space for Royce.
“It feels like this fun, little club that we’re in, and I know that if I ever needed something I could call on them for whatever I need,” Royce said.
Royce is editing on her computer and showing Jones some of her recent work. The two discuss upcoming events and a mutual photographer friend to collaborate with Jones.
“It’s been really nice learning from women who have been in business longer and know more things than I do, and have more experience than I do,” Jones said.
In this space, women working in careers that would often not connect are able to collaborate together and support each other in their different endeavors. They are given the space and ability to succeed and to flourish in their own businesses, as well as building community with other female entrepreneurs.
“We need more women supporting other women, so this is an incubator for that,” Hubbard said.