While Atlanta boasts one of the highest percentages of black-owned businesses in American, the city still lacks when it comes to spaces specifically designed to accommodate Black entrepreneurs; especially creatives.
At least that’s what creative entrepreneur Candice VanWye found when she relocated to Atlanta, from Oakland, CA, in August 2018.
The founder of Brown Girl Bloggers, an influencer marketing firm that caters to women of color, VanWye says that she’s spent most of her career in co-working facilities.
With a lack of designated spaces for Black creatives, the prospect of moving to Atlanta gave the 27-year-old entrepreneur the opportunity to create her own.
In January, a couple of months after her move, VanWye opened Monday & Co., a co-working space specifically created for Black creatives.
“If you have a business geared toward Black women or Black people in general, this is the place to be,” VanWye said.
Nestled in Atlanta’s historic Sweet Auburn District, Monday & Co. provides Black creatives not only with a space to grow their businesses, but also the resources and tools necessary to succeed.
Equipped with space to work, wifi, a kitchen, a conference room, an outdoor space for events, and a studio for photography, videography, and podcasts, Monday & Co. offers creatives, who usually work from home, a new space that can facilitate their needs.
“You come here and you can use our studio to record podcasts,” VanWye said. “You can use our studio to record video content, take pictures. You can use us as a resource especially if you want to learn editing skills, we have really amazing photographers who are willing to work with people.”
Synonymous with the city’s growing startup culture and freelancer base, co-working spaces such as Switchyards Downtown Club, FlatironCity, Serendipity Labs, Industrious Atlanta Midtown, and Elevator Factory have thrived.
While some of these spaces cater to creatives, none of them are designed to accommodate people of color. And membership-based co-working spaces like The Gathering Spot, Opportunity Hub, and Headquarters Atlanta, which do house a lot of Black businesses, are few and far between.
VanWye says that individuals who walk through her doors will be assured that they are entering an environment where they can be entrepreneurs, creatives, and Black all at the same time.
“I want ‘us’ to succeed,” VanWye said. “If I’m going to get to a top level of something, I want to get to a top level and have all my friends there. I want to have people who look like me there. I want to start building generational wealth. Starting now is the way to do it.”
Within recent years, entrepreneurism has far surpassed the brick & mortars and door-to-door services of the past. Thanks to the evolution of technology, it’s easier for people to become entrepreneurs, but it has also changed what the standard is for a business owner.
Especially, in Atlanta, where the average business owner is a person of color; many who have traveled from across the country to make Atlanta their base of operations.
Ryan Wilson, co-owner of The Gather Spot, told Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “I don’t think there is any better city, particularly if you’re an entrepreneur of color, to start a business.”
“I moved back with a dream, and the city supported us.”
With five years of freelancing under her belt, working out of co-working spaces, VanWye says that she sees herself as a member of her target audience. Which is why she incorporates business classes and workshops that teach creatives how to do business.
“It’s just about having a good space to get work done and teaching ‘us’ how to do business the right way,” VanWye said.
She has designed Monday & Co. to include workshops and additional resources to teach new creative entrepreneurs about contracts, bookkeeping, marketing, branding, web design, and so much more.
“If you can’t afford a lawyer, you can come in here and talk to a lawyer,” VanWye said.
“I had a contract with Essence last year. My contracts were not secure the way that they should be. It took me going with a company like that for me to get my contracts to where they needed to be. We should all start off like that.”
VanWye says that she’s offering is much more than a space to work, but an opportunity to teach people of color how to establish their businesses from A-to-Z; including filing for an LLC and Quickbooks tutorials.
“If you are looking for a community of super creative people, men or women, who are people of color here in Atlanta we are fostering that for you,” VanWye said.
“We want to help you with whatever business goals or work goals you have.”