There’s a new 14,000-square-foot coworking space in Bellevue. It’s called The Riveter, and it’s catered toward women in a world often made for men.
“It is built by women, but for all,” said Amy Kugler, The Riveter’s director of communications. “That’s not just a nice statement. (We’re) truly walking the walk here.”
The Riveter was founded by Amy Nelson, a mother of three with a penchant for fighting against gender inequality. It’s one reason the company’s coworking spaces are particularly mom-friendly, with mother’s rooms, flexible membership options, and discounted childcare through an off-site partnership.
Nelson was a corporate litigator for 10 years before quitting her job to launch The Riveter last year. During her time as a lawyer and as a political fundraiser, she noticed something that bothered her.
“I saw a starting line where there was an equal number of men and women, and I saw a finishing line that looked very different,” she said.
That inequality seemed even more prominent, in her own job and elsewhere, after she became a mother.
“I felt like I had been one person in corporate America for a long time, and then when I had a child it just felt very different. I felt like I was seen very differently,” she said. “I paid the same amount for law school, and now I have no shot at making the same amount (as a man).”
Sadly, Nelson found she wasn’t alone in her situation. When reading the book Lean In, she was struck by author Sheryl Sandberg’s statistic that 43 percent of mothers “off-ramp” after they have kids. In other words, nearly half of all moms leave their jobs to stay home with their children.
Of course, some of those women do so happily and by choice, Nelson said, but can that be the case for all of them? “If half of all mothers are leaving, then something is terribly wrong,” she added.
In the current climate and in her current position, the dual pursuits of motherhood and ambitious career seemed impossible.
“I was thinking, ‘Maybe the answer is to start my own business,’” Nelson said. She took some classes at a local coworking space, and the seeds of inspiration for her eventual startup were sown.
“I was really struck by how masculine (the space) felt,” she said. Not only was the furniture and décor seemingly male-dominated, the classes were too. “Where do you go to build your network? Where do you go to do your work? There was no real network for women.”
Until now, that is.
Nelson opened the first Riveter space in Capitol Hill in 2017 and has since expanded to four additional locations: one in Bellevue, one in Fremont, and two in Los Angeles.
It’s a growth rate that dwarfs even the early gains of its biggest competitor: WeWork.
“WeWork is a great coworking space for enterprise. They house quite a few unique companies. But we provide learning and development programs,” Kugler explained. “That’s really where we differentiate between us and WeWork as well as our other competitors.”
The Riveter hosts almost daily programming, including classes on personal finance, branding, business plan writing, how to pitch a company, and more. Big names like Howard Schultz and Jane Fonda even occasionally get involved.
The Riveter offers a range of membership options, from startups to solo freelancers to established businesses looking for an off-site place for employees to set up shop for a day.
The company also launched an app, which can be downloaded on a smart phone, and expects to expand into other spaces and other cities in the not-too-distant future.
“This is not the endpoint for us,” Kugler said.
If you go:
1203 114th Avenue SE
Bellevue, WA 98004