#WorkingWhileBlack. A term, a vibe, a hashtag, whatever you call it, one thing is true; it’s a phrase many minorities know all too well, and usually not for anything stellar. There’s the Implicit Bias Olympics, also known as water cooler conversations (I’m slowly running out of ways to explain why Beyoncé singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” on the Coachella stage was a big deal), the “hey, you always do the most creative hairstyles,” the day after a fresh set of box braids, and of course the overlooked promotions, widening pay gaps and incessant glass ceiling every step of the career ladder.
But there is another side, an upside, to #WorkingWhileBlack and that is…#WorkingWhileBlack with other people that are black. Groundbreaking right? Maybe not too much when applied to the traditional office environment however, shift that ideology to the sprouting world of coworking spaces and here comes the cracking of the ground. While of course most coworking spaces are welcome to all, there’s something to be said about surrounding yourself in a creative, empowering space with people who look like you and, presumably, understand some of the social and professional nuisances you’re up against. Let’s take The Wing, the popular women’s only coworking space. Its mission reads:
“The Wing is a network of work and community spaces designed for women. We create spaces where our members feel safe and empowered to create, connect and generate opportunities.”
Awesome, a space where girl power and estrogen reign supreme. Now, let’s segment the audience a little more. Imagine similar spaces across the country but for women of color. A place nestled perfectly against the backdrop of a Sade mix, creating a perfect storm of magic to conduct business and exchange hair tips while reading Zora Neal Hurston or Toni Morrison during a lunch break. A work environment where the best greeting is a simple, “hey sis,” or that smile of reassurance black women seem to have perfected throughout the ages. The smile of solidarity that without any words or gestures, says “I got you.” Indeed, what a wonderful world that would be, and what a wonderful world that is.
From the East to the West, and everything in between, black female-owned and focused coworking spaces are a thing. A phenomenal one at that. With the number of black female-owned businesses continuing to climb (as of 2018, women of color account for 47% of all women-owned businesses), it’s no surprise the amount of dedicated work spaces created specifically by and for women of color is also expanding.
So, if you’re a minority female identifying as a creator, entrepreneur, side hustler or professional goal getter, there’s likely a space for you. Here’s a few to help jumpstart your search.
Zora’s House (Columbus, Ohio), Annual Membership: $29 – $59/month
Part social club, part coworking space and entirely black female-owned and focused, named in honor of author Zora Neale Hurston, Zora’s House is a multi-functional coworking and learning space for women of color. The space also serves the larger community offering events and programs focused on political and social issues, and inclusion. Oh, they also have a “lending library” stocked to capacity with books by black, female authors.
TILA Studios (Atlanta, GA), Annual Membership: $12/month
TILA Studios is a coworking and community space for black female artists. Located a few minutes outside of downtown Atlanta, the space also functions as an art gallery, workroom and event space, and also offers professional development and consulting services.
Femology (Detroit, MI), 6-month or Annual Membership: $79 – $129/month
As Detroit continues to brand itself as a go-to incubator and inclusive Midwest destination, Femology couldn’t have come at a better time. The modern coworking space, catering primarily to black, female professionals, is expected to house more than 100 brands within the next year. The space also offers a “Femtank,” business pitch competition.
Business Lounge Dallas (Dallas, TX), $30/day
Business Lounge Dallas is a female inspired business lounge and event space in north Dallas. The space offers workshops, model castings and brand consultations.
The Palms (Peckham, London)
Dubbed “Peckham’s Afro Hair & Beauty Centre,” The Palms is a one-of-a-kind coworking space exclusively for black hairdressers and barbers. Home to more than 30 professionals, the unique space features a full-service bar, food and also functions as an event space.
Monday & Co (Atlanta, GA)
Founded by Candice VanWye, the owner and creator of Brown Girl Bloggers, Monday & Co provides workspace, consulting and community to female creatives, particularly women of color. Located in Atlanta’s historic Fourth Ward, the space seeks to provide a safe place for black and brown creatives to create content while encouraging new business opportunities.