Detroit’s first co-working space for women is a place to create, collaborate and connect.
By Stephanie Steinberg
Photography by Jenna Belevender
The woman-focused co-working space, Femology, was born out of a personal need.
Meagan Ward, a driven 27-year-old who’s not afraid to rock orange-tinted lips and is the definition of a lady boss, creates branding for women entrepreneurs in Metro Detroit. Through her company Creatively Flawless, she also consults for beauty brands sold in Target, Walgreens and Rite Aid. She’d meet clients at Starbucks or Panera, because meeting at her Belleville home where her baby roamed was not an option.
“I remember one time meeting with a client, and a table was not available. I was like, ‘Hmm, this kind of sucks.’ Then I started to think, ‘Well, what if we had somewhere to go? What if we just had a shared space where women all collectively came together, held events, did our work and just had really engaging conversation?’
“I wanted to create a space where it could fuel collaboration, but also fuel ultimately the vision of your life,” she says, sitting at a long table inside Femology. The downtown Detroit co-working space exudes femininity. Padded pink chairs flank a green velvet couch. Each white desk has a modern gold lamp with a gold and black leather chair.
It was those chairs, in fact, that motivated her to pursue her idea. Ward bought them two years before Femology opened on Jefferson in July 2017.
“I had eight 4-foot boxes all over my apartment. People would come over and be like, ‘What is this?’ ‘Well, they are these chairs for this future co-working space that I want to have,’ ” she says with a laugh. “I looked at them every day, and it just kind of held me accountable for making it happen.”
Today, Femology is 50 members strong. Most have full-time corporate jobs and need somewhere to work on a fulfilling side gig. Others use the space to hold meetings or events. Monthly membership starts at $79 and goes to $129 for women who want to rent the space for workshops.
There are other Metro Detroit co-working spaces, but only a few cater to women: Pastel in Plymouth and SheHive in Ferndale, which offers coaching and classes.
“I’m a firm believer in ‘if you can’t see it, you can’t be it’ and Meagan shares that conviction,” says Pastel owner and founder Renee Deming, 41, of Livonia. “Women entrepreneurs have disproportionately fewer peers and role models to look up to. So in an all-female environment, we feel like we fit in — we’re understood — making us more driven to succeed.”
The businesses don’t see each other as competitors, either. “We’re all built on community and we inner connect with one another,” Ward says, naming a women’s empowerment weekend they collaborated on in November.
Femology differs in that it’s the only women co-working spot in Detroit.
“Being downtown is crucial,” Ward says. “Women want to be a part of Detroit’s resurgence, and this gives them a direct opportunity to do that. And the energy down here is unlike anywhere else. You become more motivated.”
Ward strives to have 100 members by Femology’s one-year anniversary. She says they’re on track and outgrowing the space, so she’s developing another downtown location she can’t reveal yet.
“We want a more curated space,” she says. “If a woman wants to hold a workshop for 100 women, we want her to be able to do that. If a woman needs a private office space, we want her to be able to have that.”
Dearborn resident Fadia Shuayto, 28, was among the first members. She frequents Femology to work on her company Wingme Cosmetics that’s debuting its first line of eye products in June. Twenty percent of proceeds from the vegan, cruelty-free products go to women’s charities that support survivors of war, female genital mutilation victims and women who live in poverty.
In February, Shuayto won $1,000 from a Femology FemTank competition, judged by women entrepreneurs.
“It’s giving me the space to find inspiration in developing our brand as well as expanding my network,” Shuayto says. “It has really helped me get to know other females that I can help in some way or that can help me in some way. I love collaborating with all the women that are there.”
Ward has discovered that women halfway across the world share a similar “fire to burn.”
“We have to continually feed that fire with our passions, with our gifts, what we’re good at,” she says.
In November, the U.S. Embassy invited her on an eight-day trip to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, to talk with women building social enterprises and rebuilding their lives from the Russo-Georgian War in 2008. Ward says the embassy connected the dots and discovered Detroit and Tbilisi are alike.
“A lot of change is happening (in Tbilisi), but still a lot of opportunity at the same time, which is a lot like Detroit,” Ward says. “We’re rebuilding, we’re still in this phase of growth and there’s a lot of opportunity.”
While holding a seminar on how to build a business, Ward met a woman who became a prosecuting attorney at 22.
“I remember her saying, ‘They don’t let us have side hustles here because they only want you to focus on your work, but I’m gifted at so many different things. I need an outlet for all these other things that I’m great at.’ So I connected with her on that because I’m like, ‘Gosh, I’m the same way,’ ” Ward says.
Women worldwide want to pursue their passions, and Ward says the women entrepreneurs in Detroit are setting the example of how to do so.
“I think sometimes as Detroit women, we don’t realize how we’re pushing the standard of womanhood and sisterhood for the entire globe. And that’s what I’ve been able to see,” she says. “Meeting these (Detroit) women and being able to share their stories with other women across the world, it’s been the best thing.”
553 E. Jefferson, Detroit