Hera Hub: Female-focused co-working space in La Jolla aims to provide a ‘sense of community’
Following its founder’s belief that community is crucial to a business’ success, Hera Hub recently planted itself in La Jolla to offer local women co-working spaces, services and events designed to empower female entrepreneurs.
Hera Hub La Jolla, at 11011 N. Torrey Pines Road, is one of seven locations nationwide where about 500 members work to support one other, according to the company’s founder, Felena Hanson.
Hanson said the “spa-inspired” co-working space is female-focused but gender-inclusive, designed to create “a very balanced environment” with elements such as aromatherapy, running water and natural light. The idea, she said, is to “contribute to creating an opportunity to be productive but also to feel comfortable, to feel at home, to feel like there’s harmony around you.”
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Hera Hub also provides meeting and social spaces, hosts two formal business accelerator programs to support business owners and offers 15 virtual programs, along with arranging free or low-cost entrepreneurship programs to people in need.
Hanson said Hera Hub offers “an environment that is beautiful and ... productive,” lacking the distractions of home and offering members the chance to “connect with like-minded individuals, share ideas, share fears, share goals.”
People who use Hera Hub are in a diverse range of industries, including marketing, legal, finance and more. The space is open to everyone between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, when non-members can try the space for free for two hours. Members also can book rooms on nights and weekends.
Memberships in San Diego cost $149 to $369 per month, depending on individual or team needs.
La Jolla member Cindy Lin said she joined Hera Hub four years ago when starting her tech company. She considers it one of her best business decisions.
Hera Hub offers “true community,” Lin said, “increasing your knowledge through its vast educational sessions and ... gorgeous space.”
Attorney Ivette Kuyateh said she loves Hera Hub’s “community of resources and support” for entrepreneurs.
“The insights across disciplines from other members and the shared experiences within the sub hubs are extremely valuable for my personal and professional growth,” Kuyateh said.
After working at various marketing and technology start-ups and being laid off three times by age 30, Hanson decided to start a small marketing consulting agency.
Running the business out of her home for eight years, Hanson found herself “feeling a bit isolated at times and finding it sometimes hard to focus, hard to be creative,” she said.
She missed having co-workers but “didn’t want to go back to a traditional office in a corporate environment.”
In 2010, she researched the rise of co-working spaces in cities such as New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco and “saw that a lot of the spaces then, and even now to some extent, are really targeted at a younger male demographic.”
“I wanted to create something that was warm and welcoming,” Hanson said.
Hanson founded Hera Hub in 2011 in Sorrento Valley, and it expanded to Mission Valley in 2012 and Carlsbad in 2013. In subsequent years it extended through a licensing model to Irvine, Temecula, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
“We’re the longest-running co-working space in San Diego,” Hanson said.
Last year, she said, Hera Hub was “pushed out [of Sorrento Valley] due to biotech developments.”
“The irony of the story is we … ended up connecting with the founder of a biotech accelerator” through LinkedIn, Hanson said. He offered her space on his company’s land in La Jolla, and she established Hera Hub there in November.
“Co-working is even more important today than it was the day I started [Hera Hub],” Hanson said. “Because we’ve all been so isolated throughout COVID and had to work from home, the need to have a sense of community is so important.”
As much as the quarantines and isolation of the pandemic have been “detrimental to our health physically and mentally, co-working spaces are a way to get out in a very flexible fashion,” she said.
Hera Hub weathered the pandemic-related restrictions on in-person activities with a series of virtual programs that has continued beyond the end of the restrictions.
“We do 15 hours a week of live virtual online programming,” Hanson said, including education, mentoring and accountability groups.
“Our members can hop on our Zoom line at several points throughout the day and connect with other businesswomen and entrepreneurs to get support they need, even when they’re not in the space,” she said.
Eighty percent of Hera Hub’s members stayed through the pandemic, a time when many co-working spaces shut down, Hanson said.
Female entrepreneurship is often scary and daunting, with “a lot of bumps in the road,” she said. Running Hera Hub, however, gives her immense satisfaction.
“I don’t even call it a job,” Hanson said. “I get to go to work every day in a beautiful environment with inspiring women who are up to really big things, and I get to support their vision of building their dream.”
For more information, visit herahub.com. ◆
2:58 p.m. March 6, 2023: This article was updated with members’ comments.