Jen Kolb says the look and feel of her workspace has always been important to her.
“I realized that if my surroundings weren’t in order and inspiring to me, I wasn’t going to be very effective,” Kolb said.
As a mother of two, she also felt the challenge of balancing her responsibilities at work—her background is in kitchen and cabinetry design—and at home.
“I have two kids, and I had gone through some challenges being an employee and a mother and working for all males,” Kolb said. “There was a lack of understanding about the role I played at home and how that affected my life at work, too.”
With all of this in mind, Kolb began brainstorming solutions.
“I was tossing around the idea of, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if there was this beautiful space where I could go to get work done that was geared toward me?’” Kolb said.
For the last year, Kolb has been researching her idea of a co-working space designed specifically for women. She has spent time talking to women in the Sioux Falls community about their needs, and searching for the perfect space.
She’s named her concept, The Kitchen.
Now, Kolb says she’s found a space downtown she’d like to move forward on, but she needs funding.
“The biggest goal right now is to get enough money to get the lease and get furniture purchased,” Kolb said. “Our biggest hurdle has been the financing structures that are in place.”
Because of this, Kolb has turned to the platform, iFundWomen, where she will launch a funding campaign on Friday, August 30. The platform supports women-owned startups through crowdfunding and grants, as well as coaching and networking.
Kolb says she likes the idea of the community coming together to build The Kitchen.
“I want a community feel, and I want people to feel invested,” she said.
After the space has been secured, Kolb says The Kitchen will be funded primarily through memberships and space rental fees.
What will The Kitchen offer?
A downtown location was crucial to Kolb’s search for a space, and she says she’s found the perfect spot. Within the space, women will have the option of working in an open space, renting conference rooms for meetings, or even renting a permanent desk.
“The biggest thing is to have open area for people to work side by side and collaborate,” Kolb said. “I want this to be a heads-up space, not a heads-down space. Yes, you’re here to get work done, but more importantly, you have something to learn from other people and there are connections to be made.”
One of the more unique benefits of The Kitchen is its childcare option.
“For women, this is key,” Kolb said. “You can’t set up in a coffee shop with your kids, and even at home it gets distracting.”
Childcare will be available for a competitive rate of $8.00 per hour at The Kitchen. Kolb says the intent is not for it to provide an all-day solution, but rather a flexible option for women who need to get work done.
“I’ve had people tell me it could basically change their whole life to be able to work in a different way and still maintain their motherly duties,” Kolb said.
But The Kitchen isn’t just for mothers.
“Of course the childcare is a huge benefit to mothers, particularly young mothers, but I don’t want to see any specific group of women taking it over,” Kolb said. “It’s also a space for women who are retired or more established to serve as mentors to younger women. This is a really inclusive community.”
To utilize the Kitchen’s co-working space, users can sign up for a monthly membership or simply drop in for a daily rate.
Kolb says she’s working on a variety of membership benefits such as discounts at boutiques or local gyms, free wifi, a coffee bar, and even ready-made meals for purchase.
In addition to the co-working space itself, The Kitchen will play host to a variety of speakers and other networking or career-advancement events.
Membership packages begin at $50.00 per month for event attendance only. Part-time membership will be $100.00 per month, full-time will be $200.00 per month, and for $300.00, members will have a dedicated desk. There will also be a drop-in rate of $25.00 per day.
Childcare pricing is on top of the membership and starts at $8.00 per hour for members and $12.00 per hour for non-members.