THE SELF-PROFESSED ‘WORK LOVER’ ALEX WEST STEINMAN DISCUSSED THE IMPORTANCE OF PROFESSIONAL COMMUNITY, AND BREAKING BARRIERS AS A BLACK WOMAN IN BUSINESS.
Alex Steinman and her friends affectionately call themselves the coven in reference to the sense of welcome and comfort they always felt around one another. They wanted everyone to feel this way, so they set out to create a space for others to convene, work and connect. As ambitious as they are communal, they began conducting deep market research on what kind of business they could open that would really foster the type of inclusive environment they desired, and the idea for a co-working space came to mind. It was 2017, when the only successful model of this was the corporate behemoth WeWork. Steinman set out to change that.
“We asked ourselves, what does this sort of setting look like for different community members and how can we bring this to life,” Steinman told ESSENCE. What they landed on was, The Coven, an inclusive-first shared work space that centers the experiences of women, non-binary, and trans people. “Out of everything we could’ve started together, we did this because what happens when women, non binary and trans folks come together is that they make magic and energy. ”
That descriptor is a wink to the denotation of the business’s name, coven, which is used to describe a gathering of witches. Although it might scare some off, Steinman leans into the double-meaning.
“We honestly don’t mind that it has a little bit of witchy vibes and some teeth to it,” Steinman explained. She and The Coven’s co-founders Bethany Iverson, Liz Giel, and Erinn Farrell come from marketing & advertising industries, so they’ve come to understand the importance of a captivating brand narrative. “We love the name and our members really self select into it because they believe in that energy too.”
Since its opening in Minneapolis, the community has flocked, with a 400% increase in team memberships YOY, and their current private offices reaching full capacity. They currently boast multiple locations, with its third thoughtfully placed at the city’s Lake Street Corridor—an area that was impacted by the uprising following the murder of George Floyd.
“He was murdered in right in our backyard (Minneapolis) and our city was burning,” she said of the summer summer 2020 social justice uprising. “One of the things we’ve always been very vocal and vocal about racial justice, we’ve been very supportive of all kinds of groups in our community because they’re a part of us.” She said The Coven was used not only as a place to work, but also a spot to round up goods needed for those fighting for social justice. She explained that they helped gather around $150,000 worth of goods and services that went out to Black Lives Matter protestors and volunteers.
That, she said, exemplifies why she and her friends launched The Coven.
“We all love to work and it’s an incredibly important part of our lives. We’re fortunate to love what we do. But more than anything, we can about fostering strong community. There’s nothing more magical than that.”