UPTOWN — Bearing in mind the trials of work-at-home professionals suffering isolation and procrastination, Uptown resident Nicole Vasquez unveiled her idea for the Blend Co-working and Community Space in the spring, and has spent the past several months seeking a home for the business.
Vasquez, a 29-year-old marketing professional and entrepreneur, said Tuesday she has found one: her concept is scheduled to open in mid-September at 4101 N. Broadway under a new name — The Shift.
"In my journey of trying to open a co-working space I've really learned a lot and met with a lot of people and changed my model," said the marketing professional, whose business will fill a vacant former laundromat that has been occasionally used for community meetings and events.
Co-working typically involves a shared office environment occupied by work-at-home professionals, including small business and startup workers and freelancers looking to escape the solitude and distractions of working at home.
Coffee shops are common alternatives for this demographic, but can frustrate users with noise from espresso machines, loud music and conversations, spotty Wi-Fi and uncomfortable chairs.
The Shift's name refers to the four-hour time blocks that people can purchase either as walk-ins for $15 on weekends and $16 on weekdays, or via various memberships packages. Vasquez's previous model was a members-only concept. "Shifters" get a desk, a comfortable chair, Wi-Fi, access to a color printer, and free coffee, tea and snacks as well as discounts on events and classes.
Vasquez's model, she said, fits all types of non-traditional co-workers. For example, Vasquez described a friend who is a nurse and wants to start a blog but has trouble concentrating at home because her roommate "is always playing loud techno music."
"She'll go to Starbucks but after an hour she's uncomfortable; her butt hurts from the chair and she gets distracted," Vasquez said.
The 2,500-square-foot space will have 32 desks and a meeting space and will be open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.
Beyond co-working, Vasquez wants The Shift to become "a modern-day community center where people can work, learn and socialize with their neighbors."
Vasquez says The Shift will offer classes about everything from languages and art to professional development and entrepreneurship, and host community meetings, lectures and discussions. Her goal, she said, "is for it to be a place where people can come to work and be more productive but still be working independently with the possibility of getting connected to a larger network."
"[People] can work there during the day, they can learn and take classes at night, and on the weekends they can socialize," Vasquez said.
She also aims to build partnerships with area businesses. Uptown-based B True Bakery and Brix Catering & Events will be providing food and snacks to co-workers, while Vasquez still seeks a local coffee roaster.
Vasquez emphasized, "No matter what, we're still evolving."
"I don't want to be the only person creating the content," Vasquez said. "I want to listen to the residents in the neighborhood and build a space based on their needs, not on my own."
Click here for more information about The Shift.
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