Small biz spotlight: Q&A with Orchard House, Birmingham’s first women-focused co-working collective

The Practice Works space is perfect for productivity and staying socially distant. Photo via Orchard House on Instagram

Birmingham’s first women-focused co-working collective is here. Orchard House Beta kicks off at Practice Works this September. Find out more about how Orchard House originated and how to join today.

Introducing Orchard House, Birmingham’s first women-focused co-working space

Founded by Alex Wolf, creative director of Atlanta non-profit Hope Heals; Mary Austin Hall, a nurse practitioner at UAB; and Christine Carrier, a local self-employed fine artist; the idea for Orchard House is to provide a safe space for women to work that also accounts for social distancing. Currently, they are partnering with Practice Works to use their space as an incubator.

Keep reading for all the answers to your questions from the Orchard House team:

Tell us a bit about how Orchard House came to be.

Our original concept was simply to meet a need for ourselves—a simple, beautiful place to work and socialize with creative, entrepreneurial women in town. After sharing the vision with a few friends, we found a lot of women in Birmingham were tired of working from their couches or nomadically roaming between coffee shops.

While co-working spaces are not a novelty in town, there is a conspicuous gap for a women-focused flexible office space. Then, the pandemic created another gap in the market: a co-working space that accounts for social distancing.

Initially, we assumed we’d have to wait for the pandemic to pass before attempting to launch Orchard House. Now we’re understanding that we may be months or years away from navigating work in a “normal” way, and creative social connection is becoming increasingly crucial for our collective wellbeing.

So instead of waiting, we formed a partnership with Practice Works (an existing co-working space in town) that will allow us to incubate Orchard House with flexible leasing, social distancing, and public health built into the foundation of the co-working space.

What makes Orchard House stand out among other co-working spaces in the area?

Orchard House is Birmingham’s only boutique women-focused co-working collective with social distancing built into its operating structure. Our focus is to maintain a small membership base who feel authentic ownership of this beautiful, affordable, safe place where they can be fruitful in work and relationships.

The spacial plan accounts for social distancing and droplet partitions. Our member education emphasizes respiratory etiquette, disinfecting procedures, and mask policies. By taking serious precautions to protect our physical health, we can safely inhabit shared space to nourish our mental and social health.

We also want to emphasize that although Orchard House is women-focused, we welcome folks of all gender identities! The only qualification is that you love, value, and respect women.

The beta phase will take place at Practice Works. What are some of the benefits of this space?

We are so fortunate to partner with the kind, brilliant owners of Practice Works to use a portion of their space to incubate Orchard House. Practice Works is a co-working space for wellness professionals in Avondale.

The space is beautifully decorated and filled with natural light. Orchard House members will have access to free onsite parking, high-speed WiFi, comfortable spaces to work with others or by yourself, a private meeting room, phone booths for calls or video meetings, two kitchens, and—most importantly—free coffee all day! 

The plan is to create a boutique coworking collective, social lounge, and event venue specifically for women in Birmingham. Are there plans to move into your own space anytime soon?

Our fingers (and toes) are crossed! If this initial manifestation of Orchard House proves to be a successful offering that meets a need in our creative community, we hope to build out a dedicated Orchard House space in early 2021. This space would offer expanded resources like a photo studio, private enclosed artists studios with storage, and rentable event space.

If someone is interested in joining, what next steps should they take?

If it’s time to break up with your work-from-home situation, “test drive” our Orchard House Beta Membership, which offers you unlimited co-working for the entire month of September for just $99—that’s $3.30 a day! Learn more and join at orchardhousebham.com, or email us at hello@orchardhousebham.com.

We are so excited to see how Orchard House grows. Find out more about them online, or follow along on Instagram for updates.

  • Most likely Instagrammin’ the Birmingham skyline, behind the camera shooting photos or writing stories (with too many puns) for Bham Now.