March is International Women’s Month, a time to reflect on women’s contributions to history and contemporary society. As such, we are dedicating this edition of Names of Distinction (NOD) to women co-working spaces.
The co-working concept is picking up steam across the country and the world as an alternative to the distractions of working from home or pricey long-term leases. Women-only and women-centric co-working spaces offer unique networking and educational opportunities and, often, amenities designed for holistic wellbeing.
As with any kind of naming, there are many ways approaches. The 12 names we chose use a variety of strategies, from referencing women in history and myth (Hera’s Hub and The Riveter), to embracing the ultra-feminine (Pastel, Paper Dolls, and Lipstick Lane), to drawing on the concept of a space for making (The Wing, One Roof Woman, and The Refinery). Read on to discover what makes these names so clever, layered, or just plain lovely.
The Wing—a women-only co-working space with locations in New York City, San Francisco, and DC, and more to come—is committed to the advancement of women through community. “Wing” could be a reference to a wing of a home or building, but it is also suggests taking flight. It also speaks to the idea of community members lifting each other up so all can reach their potential. The name gets more play through the message featured on the space’s website: “Alis Grave Nil”, a Latin expression meaning nothing is heavy to those who have wings. Tip: When naming, consider words with double meaning so you can convey multiple messages without sacrificing brevity.
Hera is a Greek Goddess, the queen of Olympia and the wife and sister of Zeus. By referencing this mythical female icon, Hera Hub, the first international female-focused co-working space and business accelerator, tells the world that it caters to women, and not just any sort of women but the type that reach mythic stature. The “H” alliteration might also subliminally point to the word “home,” which works well, since Hera Hub is an entrepreneur’s home away from home. Tip: To position your brand as female-focused, consider referencing a female icon, real or imagined. Just be mindful of legal issues, as many mythic names—especially those that are easy to say and spell—might already be registered in your company or product’s trademark class.
Rather than conveying femininity subtly, this Australian co-working space uses an overtly female reference—lipstick. This could have easily backfired, but given the nature of the business, it works. Lipstick Lane is a creative hub for women entrepreneurs and makers and there is nothing old-fashioned or clichéd about that. In this context, “lipstick” is a powerful symbol and an acknowledgement of the fairer gender’s beauty, strength and eye for design. Tip: When naming women-focused brands, be deliberate about if and how you reference traditionally female concepts. It could make sense to lean into beauty and femininity, as Lipstick Lane does, but do so consciously or you could risk offending customers or appearing outdated or sexist.
One Roof Women
The name One Roof conveys community and completeness. And as a “roof over one’s head” automatically cues to shelter and protection, it subliminally suggests this is a place where women can find security and peace to do the work they want to do. Tip: Before choosing a name, define your key messaging. What is it you want to communicate to your customers and prospects? Your name might multiple ideas, but it is imperative that your top messaging objective isn’t lost in a sea of meanings.
When life gives you lemons, what do you do? You join a community of like-minded women business-owners, of course. Make Lemonade a Toronto-based co-working space, understands that the “struggle is real” when you are following your dream. It turns sour situations like working from loud cafes with weak Wi-Fi signals into something sweeter—a scenario described on the company’s website. The visual messaging took inspiration from the name too, using the bright yellow of lemons for the company’s colorful and cheerful brand identity. Adding a fresh twist to the name? There is always free lemonade in the kitchen. Tip: If you name is in use by another brand, as is the case here with Refinery27, be sure your product or company are not only in different trademark classes, but that they are distinct in terms of related goods and services. This will help consumers avoid confusion between brands.
The Hivery conveys the idea of community through calling up the image of a hive—a word that speaks to the space that shelters a colony of bees and the bees themselves. And let’s not forget the queen bee—an image and concept that evokes the female. This Mill Valley, CA co-working space describes itself a collaborative work environment—another reason why the bee and hive metaphor work well. Members are working on their own pursuits, but their paths overlap. Tip: A strong name can’t just convey meaning, it must do so in a way that is pleasing to the ear. “The Hive,” for example, would cue to the same metaphor, but it doesn’t sound nearly as good as The Hivery. The -ery suffix is a good choice because it is used to form a few different types of nouns that have relevance in the context of co-working: a place of business (ex. bakery), a collection of things (ex. cutlery), collective qualities (ex. trickery), and an occupation (ex. husbandry).
Creating a coined word or phrase by merging two words that share a single letter is a common naming construct—something done to great effect with Pinterest. Shecosystem pulls off the same merging magic. As a co-working space designed to allow female entrepreneurs to pursue their passions without sacrificing their health, the name points to more than a place to work—it is also a supportive community.Tip: Experiment with mashing words up to create unique, memorable names. Sharing an ending letter and starting letter is one way to achieve this kind of naming construction. Another is to use parts of different words.
Paper dolls have long been popular toys. Children dress up and accessorize their dolls, building a whole world around their creations. Now apply this idea to the world of co-working, in which women pursue their crafts and design their futures, and the only limits are the boundaries of their own imaginations. As the Paper Dolls homepage explains, its network of creators “turn blank pages into new businesses.” Tip: When using a name that is open to interpretation, consider explaining what it means to you on your website. Customers care about what your company stands for and sharing the story behind your name is a wonderful way to teach people about your business’s history and core values. And while this name might provoke some heated conversation as being too girlish, don’t shy away from controversy. Sometimes the best names—think of Richard Branson’s Virgin—generate a lot of push back before they are embraced.
The amenities at The Allbright, a women-only private member club, include private event space, restaurants and bars, and a beauty salon. It is the Soho House meets WeWork, and you will note all three brands use similar constructs for their names. The name could mean that “all is bright,” as in rosy and positive, or that all of its members are radiant and smart. But according to its founders, the name is a way to honor the first female Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who famously said, “There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women.” Tip: When looking for sources of inspiration, don’t only stick to the tried and true routes of myth and history—check out current affairs and politics too. If you do use the name of a living person, only use names with multiple meanings (as the case with Albright and Allbright) or else are not so clearly associated with a single individual.
Pastel invites women who work from home to instead set up shop at a place where they will actually get things done. Its private offices and co-working space is tranquil and quiet, descriptors associated with pastel colors. The founder of the business is a graphic designer, so the color reference may also be an homage to her background. Tip: If you create a great name, don’t be discouraged if the dot.com URL is already taken. There are a variety of ways to get creative with a URL, from exploring not-dot.com options to adding meaningful suffixes or prefixes, as Pastel did with Pastelplymouth.com, which reflects the co-working space’s location in Plymouth, Michigan.
Refinery also uses the “ery” suffix, conveying instantly that this is a place where things are made. This name is notable because of its layers of meaning. Here, women work together to fine tune ideas and evolve and grow, personally and professionally. The name may also make people think of Refinery27, a well-known digital media company focused on women. Tip: If your name is in use by another brand as, in this case, Refinery27, be sure your goods and services are distinct from one another. This Can help you avoid potential likelihood of confusion between brands.
This national co-working brand conveys its female-focus by referencing one of America’s most well-known symbols of female strength and work ethic: Rosie the Riveter. The famous image represents women who stepped up to take jobs in factories and shipyards as men went off to World War II. The Riveter even uses an image of a flexed female arm on its website. Tip: When naming, comb through the pages of history, fiction, and other lore to find interesting ideas, don’t overlook interesting and unique personalities as naming inspirations. Just be sure the name is in public domain or not protected by any trusts.
Women are changing the world, and co-working spaces like these 12 are helping them do so. Some of these names boldly call out “female,” while others sound gender neutral, but all of them convey their purpose in creative, pleasant-sounding ways. And for that, we applaud them, along with all women changemakers and entrepreneurs—this March and all year-long.