Women who work together succeed together, and Cassi Oesterling and Tiffany Zamora want to help Dallas women do both.
In February, the pair launched Her HQ, a pop-up for one of the first female-focused coworking spaces in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. If all goes well — and so far the signs have been encouraging — the hope is for Her HQ to evolve into a permanent fixture in Dallas.
Dallas isn’t a stranger to coworking spaces. There are dozens of them throughout the area, but what there aren't enough of is female-focused coworking spaces — and you know what they say about necessity and invention.
The idea came to Oesterling and Zamora out of their own need for female camaraderie. They were new to Dallas from Los Angeles and Wisconsin, respectively, and working at JC Penney when they discovered they were both regulars at many of the same networking groups and digital friend-meeting platforms like Bumble BFF.
“It’s hard to meet people and make community,” Oesterling says. “We started talking and (Zamora) was working on a side project at the time. A lot of the women we knew were working
on a business or passion project on the side. When we learned that, we saw that there was no physical space where women could come together and work together.”
There are female-focused workspaces in other cities, and even Dallas once had a similar concept called Kaleidoscope for Her, which is now closed. Oesterling and Zamora saw the vacancy as an opportunity to tailor the space to the needs of Dallas women, instead of waiting for an already existing concept to expand into the Dallas market. They began by partnering with a coed coworking space, Centrl Office, which is new to Dallas from Portland.
“We were a part of the build-out process with Centrl Office, so we have our own space inside of Centrl Office’s space that looks completely different,” Oesterling says. “It’s basically a smaller scale of what our larger space will look like.”
It’s an open-concept space with no private offices or desks, although there are some private conference rooms. With the aesthetics, the two are putting their money where their mouths are when it comes to supporting women.
“We have a lot of thoughtful design elements with women in mind,” Oesterling explains. “For the furniture, we partnered with a female-owned company out of New York, and the artwork was done by local female artists.”
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They plan to continue to support the women who occupy their space by showcasing a rotating cast of work done by the designers, artists and entrepreneurs. They also want their concept to be an “experiential workspace,” which means women will not only work shoulder to shoulder but can also learn from each other through workshops, panels or social events.
“I think when women share together in a comfortable setting, they’re more inclined to connect, ask questions and let their guard down,” Oesterling says. “We want it to be a community. That’s what we’re building first and foremost.”
They opened the pop-up space in February, and it will stay open until August. In June, they will roll out their membership application for the permanent space, which they hope to open in the fall. Interested parties can apply online for an early invite to the membership application, and Oesterling says they’ve already had more than 300 people do so.
“It’s amazing to see how many people have been waiting for this,” she says.