Co-Working Space Tackles Gender Equality
Haus of Maven, the women-focused co-working pop-up inside of BoxJelly, announced last week that it will shut its doors May 15 — in the physical sense, at least. Founder Melissa Kim plans to maintain the brand, tweaking it to be an online community centered around empowering and advocating for women in business.
The decision came when Kim decided to move to California with her family after her husband had been relocated by the military. Although Kim’s initial vision for Haus of Maven was to open a larger, permanent space in the future, she sees it as a “pivot” for the company.
“I decided this was an opportunity for growth instead of a complete shutdown,” Kim explains. “We will continue researching issues that affect current and future Haus of Maven members — such as work-life balance, the gender wage gap, rising cost of child care — and finding the best resources for women to navigate their business and careers. In doing so, we hope to not only build a better co-working space for women, but also further develop Haus of Maven as a digital, resourceful community of women.”
To move forward, Kim has partnered with designer and Haus of Maven member Jamie-Lynn Silva. Together, they will reconstruct Haus of Maven with that vision in mind.
In a lot of ways, the new direction suits Haus of Maven — it’s always been more about empowerment and advocacy than chic design.
Haus of Maven just opened in February, but it’s an idea that Kim first had a few years ago when she worked at a local public relations firm. Kim found the female-dominated firm to be a productive, supportive environment.
After a couple of years, she left PR to launch an event planning company. She worked from home — but quickly found that to be more cozy in concept than it was in reality.
“I realized there was really nowhere for me and my business partners to meet with clients,” Kim recalls. “We’d have to fight for tables at coffee shops or restaurants, and it could be noisy and not conducive to helping our clients feel like they were important.”
When she stumbled upon BoxJelly, she thought the Kakaako co-working space might solve her problems — only, it fell a little short: “It’s a great concept, but I looked around, and I thought, I could not bring a bride here. It was male-dominated, it kind of felt like a frat house,” Kim says.
Later, when she became director of sales and marketing at BoxJelly, she worked to create a space within a space, utilizing the BoxJelly model, but specifically with women in mind.
But it’s not just about aesthetics.
“For me, overall, Haus of Maven is a way to speak up for these women by figuring out what their specific needs were and figuring out how I could address that,” she says.
Kim has been passionate about gender equality as long as she can remember.
“My parents are very traditional, in the sense that I was always told from a young age that I couldn’t do certain things or have certain occupations because I was a girl. And that never sat right with me. I didn’t feel like that should limit me in any way.”
Haus of Maven will continue to publish its monthly e-newsletter, connect members with local business resources and events, and tackle issues that include affordable child-care, maternity-leave policies and flexible work schedules.
“My ultimate goal is to bring a solution to working women and working mothers that enables them to work better so that they can save time and be with their families,” Kim explains. “I feel that we should be able to have a job or a workspace that understands that we are human beings first and we are employees second.
“If we did that,” Kim continues, “we could see healthier employees, healthier families and more productive business.”