Amy Nelson spent the past decade as a corporate litigator, at T-Mobile, and on Wall Street before that. She had long thought about a career change, and had gone seeking resources to help her build a business.
“Inevitably, I was usually the only woman, and I didn’t feel like I belonged,” she said, “and I really wanted to find a place where I belonged.”
Kim Peltola was a therapist specializing in cognitive behavior who also wanted to find a community that focused on women’s wellness, having seen so many business professionals suffer from burnout, Nelson said.
Come May 1, Peltola and Nelson will realize their dream and open The Riveter in Capitol Hill, the largest for-women coworking space in the world, Nelson said.
While she isn’t in the logo, the name is obviously a nod to the iconic Rosie the Riveter image that had been used to attract women to fill manufacturing jobs during World War II.
“But then a rivet puts two things together, and we’re putting together a woman’s wellness and her work,” Nelson said. “I think what we’re trying to do is create a culture where we don’t value the burnout.”
The Riveter is taking over 11,000 square feet of space in the Ballou Wright building, 1517 12th Ave., that once housed Seattle ad firm Creature, then temporarily served as the Real World house during filming last summer for Season 32 of the MTV reality show.
Unlike most coworking spaces, Nelson said, 80 percent of The Riveter will be open office space. She said coworking spaces with a majority private office space don’t encourage collaboration.
“We want to give women the opportunity to meet each other, network, learn from each other,” Nelson said.
The open office space on the first floor of The Riveter has rollaway furniture, so it can be turned into event space. Every other week there will be an opportunity to hear stories from women business founders.
“We’re really excited to work with all the women entrepreneurial agencies in the area,” Nelson said.
There will be a yoga studio downstairs, with a meditation room next door. A number of customer packages will offer daily yoga with a professional instructor.
“What we’re trying to do is integrate wellness into part of the day,” Nelson said, adding a living wall will be installed in the open office area on the first floor.
An old safe room downstairs still has the historic industrial metal door, and had once been used as a bar, Nelson said. It will now serve as a wine room.
There will also be a podcast room, where customers using the coworking space can tell their stories.
The Riveter will hold pitch clinics, and Nelson said she’s hopeful angel investors will use the space; tours started last week. There are many credited investors that don’t invest in startups, Nelson said, and only 7 percent of venture investing goes to companies run by women.
Nelson said the goal is not only to have a space for women — all genders are welcome — to work out of, but also to provide a place to learn how to be successful.
“All of the pieces that you don’t know often when you’re starting out,” she said.
The Riveter won’t be a one-city concept. Nelson and Peltola have a goal of opening 20 women-centered coworking spaces when all is said and done, and they will begin looking for a Bellevue location after opening in Capitol Hill. Nelson said it was clear during their research that there is a lot of demand, but little supply.
“That’s not specific to Seattle,” she said. “That’s a problem we see everywhere.”
Find out more about The Riveter at theriveter.co.