By Catherine Spearnak
After eight years of working from her San Diego home, Felena Hanson was tired of it.
“Sure, you can work in your pajamas, but sometimes you want to get out of your pajamas and get outside,” said Hanson, who ran her marketing strategy firm, Perspective Marketing, from her home office. “Sometimes it’s easier to throw in a load of laundry or walk the dog than focus on what you really need to do.”
That’s when she came up with the idea that instead of working at home, women could meet and work in a congenial atmosphere and get out of their PJs.
The result was Hera Hub, a co-working space in Mission Valley.
What is co-working? Co-working is a style that involves a shared working environment, usually an office, and independent activity. Typically it is attractive to work-at-home professionals, or freelancers who usually end up working in relative isolation.
Hanson’s brainchild, Hera Hub, began in August 2011 when she opened her first hub in Sorrento Valley. But unlike a typical office space, Hera Hub offers spa-like accoutrements such as nicely upholstered furniture, soft music, drinks, light snacks, candles and fountains.
The Mission Valley hub in an office building near the Marriott hotel offers one large conference room, two smaller conference rooms and six to 10 library-style shared spaces. The busiest time is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
There are areas to make phone calls so the workspace stays quiet, but the space offers a light, pleasant feeling of energy. There is also a weekly lunch so members can meet, as well as a weekly happy hour.
“There’s no more hunting for that perfect person to collaborate with on a big project because they are most likely sitting next to you,” said Hanson, who feels camaraderie can be as important as the workspace. “This shared workspace means creativity and productivity thrive here.”
Hanson opened her Mission Valley hub in 2012, then one in Carlsbad in 2013 with the same spa-like style and the same commitment to getting working women out of their homes and into a creative work environment.
One “hubette,” as the women call themselves, is Masako Stewart, a marriage and family counselor.
She works at the Mission Valley hub Tuesday through Friday, where she sees her clients for about 30 hours a week.
Stewart says she likes the comfortable energy at Hera Hub.
“It’s friendly and very supportive,” she said.
Another member, Talin Hartounian, works at the Mission Valley hub about 20 hours a week and conducts her event planning business there.
“I like the separation between work and office space,” Hartounian said.
When she decided to open her own business, the entrepreneur said eight women told her about Hanson and Hera Hub.
Hanson selected the name “Hera Hub” after hours of research. Hera is the name of Zeus’ wife in Greek mythology. It means beautiful lady.
“In ancient times, Hera was revered as being the only goddess who accompanied a woman through every step of her life, blessing and protecting her daily,” she said.
More than 300 women work at Hanson’s three Hera Hubs.
The concept has been so successful, that she plans to franchise the business both nationally and internationally. She has already had nibbles from interested parties in Portland, Vancouver, South Carolina, and London. The first franchise opens this spring in Washington D.C.
Rates are month to month and include Wi-Fi, copying, scanning, coffee, tea and light snacks.
Members supply their own phones and laptops. Space per month varies at $129 for 16 hours, $169 for 32 hours, $269 for 80 hours, and $369 for unlimited hours per month.
“Hera Hub membership doesn’t just mean having access to collaborative, serene, and productive workspace; you also become part of a community of like-minded ambitious women who are successfully moving their dreams forward,” Hanson said.
—Catherine Spearnak is a San Diego-based freelance writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.