For a year, locals needing an escape from their home office or coffee shop “cubicle” jumped into the coworking phenomenon HAYVN. This shared workspace in Darien created for women is having an anniversary, and it continues to thrive despite our temporary climate of school shutdowns, social distancing and other uncertainties.
As soon as COVID-19 forced partial closures, HAYVN set up a “Zoom Room” to assist members and its guests with video conferencing capabilities. Although HAYVN had to postpone a number of events—including Moffly Media’s Women in Business, a Social Media Exchange—the company quickly switched gears and began conducting virtual workshops, called HAYVN HALFTIME.
Founder Felicia Rubinstein, an engineer and marketing expert, says one of the biggest benefits of the work space is “creating community, because isolation is a dream killer.” Her timing couldn’t be better.
Billed as a “coworking space where women connect, create and get stuff done,” HAYVN is a “haven” for freelancers, remote workers or solopreneurs who miss the camaraderie of an office and the resources that come with it. Since opening in May 2019, HAYVN has held over 120 programs and continues to add more, in addition to providing in-house experts and mentors.
“Magic happens when you are in a community, trust people more and hope to share business opportunities,” says Rubinstein. “We are a mixed audience, inclusive of all ages: older mentoring younger, younger helping older and women in transition. The ‘Y’ in HAYVN is for a ‘yes’ mentality. If someone has an idea, we encourage and try to support it.”
Inspired to create HAYVN while listening to a story about WeWork on the “How I Built This” podcast, Rubinstein sought to fill the void left by flexible workspaces. “A lot of these companies are focusing on Millennials, but no one is focusing on us,” she explains. “Our programs support the obstacles women encounter to keep their career or business on track.”
Located at 320 Boston Post Road in the newly renovated and rebranded Darien Crossing, HAYVN is filled with light and built to inspire. The 7,000-square-foot office features amenities like a fitness center, event space, art gallery, podcast room, organic café and a shared kitchen stocked with coffee and tea. HAYVN offers food from local caterers such as Carolyn’s Absolutely Fabulous Events, Palmer’s Catering, Nit Noi and Corner Harvest. For special events and meetings, members can use these caterers or bring in their own.
Stepping inside, a community manager provides a warm welcome and presides over all-things-HAYVN.
She might help with memberships and networking events or opine on the café’s best homemade scone. Membership packages vary, with work environments ranging from communal tables and dedicated desks to private offices in varying sizes and meeting rooms. Floating and dedicated desks are other options with storage lockers available. Members can also rent rooms designated for meetings, conferences and podcasts on an hourly basis. For incubators and companies wanting to grow, there’s space available within the building.
Members appreciate special touches, such as privacy panels on desks. HAYVN also provides connections to healthcare benefits, business counselors, legal experts, fitness professionals, nail salons and nutritionists. Rubinstein’s goal is to help women “streamline their life and focus on themselves and their professions.” Safety is another critical feature. There’s an ample parking lot with easy building access, a security system and 24/7 entry for members with offices.
When asked if HAYVN welcomes male members, Rubinstein responds: “Absolutely! Men can be members too. Our programming is women-centric, but it is totally an inclusive space. That means we’re all about welcoming everyone into our sanctuary.”
Rubinstein spent over a year researching the flexible workspace movement—which she says is increasing at an “average annual rate of 23 percent since 2010”—and searching for the perfect location and design for HAYVN to support the “wellness and work-life balance” of her members. Granoff Architects and Workplace Studio were instrumental in designing the space and managing the
By the end of 2019, HAYVN was awarded “Client of the Year” by the Women’s Business Development Council (WBDC) and nominated by Fairfield County Business Journal as one of the “Thriving Thirty” Best Companies in the county.
Rubinstein is planning a HAYVN Hatch Capstone—a culmination of all the winners from her popular pitch nights. Sponsored by HAYVN, VentureMom.com and Realist Ventures, these events help women entrepreneurs get funding, exposure and marketing for their businesses.
“Ultimately, when women work in a beautiful space made just for them—where they can come together, collaborate and do great work—a little magic happens,” says Rubinstein. “That’s HAYVN.”