Grace Kraaijvanger is the founder of The Hivery, a coworking space that helps women create the next chapter in their lives. With a location in Mill Valley, CA and another coming to San Francisco, The Hivery is one of the very first female focused coworking space in the United States.
On today’s episode Grace talks about what led her to create a space that is more than just the typical coworking space. We discuss why it’s important for be in a space that allows women to support and help each other. Grace discusses how she created a minimum viable product out of a brick and mortar location. The Hivery has also entered the virtual space and Grace explains how the community supports each other.
Today’s episode is sponsored by:
About Our Guest
When I was 27, I wanted to open a dance studio in San Francisco. As a former professional ballet and modern dancer, it was my dream to have my own space, my own studio to work on my own artistic expression and to share and collaborate on the wisdom of dance with other dancers in the community. But while searching for studios, a little voice in my head kept thinking, “this would be a cool place for women to work. A sort of women’s collective, or a creative lab.”
There was a rustling, a yearning, a something I couldn’t put my finger on, but it was about me, my identity, an unrest, a stir, a question.
Life had other plans for me and it wasn’t my time to open a dance studio – I got pregnant, got busy being a mom and I put my dream on hold. But the idea kept creeping back into my mind and I would dismiss it. I did what many of us do – I got busy with being busy. When my mother passed away shortly thereafter, I dealt with the pain by throwing myself into my work and continuing the practice of “keeping busy”. I was a marketing executive at the time and spent most of my grieving days working from home, isolated and lost in my thoughts, with a nagging feeling that I was meant to do something else. My mother’s premature death scared me because it made me think about all the things my mother wanted to do in her life but now couldn’t. That experience and my ongoing yearning for finding something true, made me start questioning the value of what I was doing and what my unique purpose was in life.
As an exploration of that “purpose”, I started to create stuff – I made a dance film in honor of my mom, I wrote an essay that I read at a theater in the Mission District; I started a lunch discussion called “Women Inspiring Women.” I used artistic expression as a way to find myself and in doing so, I realized that I was not alone.
The more I expressed myself, the more I realized that there were other women who felt just like me, who felt stuck and needed a community of other inspiring women to create, to express, to help each other in this story called life. Women who wanted to change careers, start a business, go back to work, or take time off for to pursue a passion – there was no “space” both literally and metaphorically to find and create meaningful work that was outside of the “work” norms. From that creative questioning, The Hivery was born.
I knew from the beginning that The Hivery was more than just an idea, it had to be a physical space, a movement really, about working in an entirely different way. I wanted to create a new model for the way work can be done and that we can create successful, viable work in a kind, supportive and light-filled environment. I wanted to create a space where the creative and collaborative process could be embraced, not just by artists, but by everyone seeking her next chapter.
The Hivery has evolved and changed, like a true hive that expands and grows with the support of its’ community. In the beginning, I had no idea where it would go. I allowed myself to be guided by three core values: kindness, creativity, and community. And those three principles have shown me the way.
What I’ve learned since launching The Hivery three years ago is that everything I learned about business and life, I learned in the dance studio. Learning how to express yourself in the most authentic manner, showing up every day and doing the work, and surrounding yourself with kind people who believe in what’s possible for you.
Show up, make something, don’t do it alone, repeat. What I hope for the community at The Hivery is that they find their own “inner artist” to own who they really are, express the unique gifts that they have to offer and find empowerment to make their contribution to this world.
xoxo // Grace
“This place has a magic to it. It holds and creates support, vision, dreams, kindness, knowledge, and the brilliance of humanity. I have wanted to open a creative, collaborative center for people to cultivate themselves for many, many years. This is my chance. This is my something.”
— Grace Kraaijvanger