It’s a Vision Collision

USD alumna Felena Hanson '95

CREATING SPACES FOR WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS TO GROW

It’s the daily grind, with a twist. When the 300 or so women who call Hera Hub their office arrive at work, they’re greeted by soothing music, burbling water and a workspace that’s more cooperative than corporate.

Hera Hub, a co-working space for women, caters to its disparate members’ souls while helping the entrepreneurs among them navigate small-business issues. Founder Felena Hanson ‘95 has made a career of helping women entrepreneurs grow, and she’s got her eyes on some serious growth of her own business as well.

“Women, when given the opportunity, connect differently. It’s still a professional environment, but it’s an extremely supportive environment,” she says. Toward that end, Hanson provides not just co-working space as an alternative to the distractibility and inertia that can come from working from home, but programs and connections for entrepreneurs looking to grow their business.

“It’s 1,000 percent a now-business,” Hanson says. “It definitely couldn’t have existed five years ago.” But it’s not just co-working. Gurus — experts in various fields — donate “office hours” to help other members, who include a number of USD grads. And don’t discount the power of a group of women working together — even if they’re not focused on the same thing.

Elizabeth Stone was a personal coach working out of Hera Hub and sharing her skills with others in the community, and now she’s chief financial officer of Sash Group. The Sash Bag, a low-profile purse that is worn sash-style for hands-free ease, was born from the brand of collaboration that Hera Hub supports: dreamed up by Nichole MacDonald, with investment from Stone and others.

“Nichole was a graphic designer helping me with my logo. I was a [personal and business] coach helping her with her power, and boom! We became partners,” Stone enthuses. “Felena fostered that environment.”

Hanson herself projects a businesslike vibe that’s also in keeping with the spa-like setting of the office she’s created. Before Hera Hub, there was Hanson’s vision-board filled with pictures of women smiling and working together, of work spaces that look less than corporate and images of success and happiness. She melded those concepts into an even better, real-life version.

And it’s hard to doubt her drive or vision, especially when she proclaims her goal to open 200 Hera Hub franchises in five years. The three San Diego County locations — the first opened in Sorrento Valley in 2011 — will remain company-owned, while Hanson has built her own franchise model to take on the rest of the country and branch out internationally.

“I’ve created a system and a structure that helps support (members), so I just look at franchising as the next step.” — Kelly L. Knufken

To learn more, please go to www.HeraHub.com.

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