Emily Galligan is an artist, designer, and the owner of Maidenwood Press, a custom stationary and calligraphy company. Makenzie Brookes is a campaign manager for the Island Housing Bank. She is also a contractor for the State Department, and audits agencies that resettle refugees all over the world. Nevette Previd has her own marketing consulting company. She also runs Farm.Field.Sea, an Island culinary tours and events group.
What do all of these enterprising women have in common? They all go to Haven to get stuff done.
Haven is a coworking space for Island professionals of all ages and trades. It was founded by Alexandra Bullen, who’s also a writer, author, and the founder of Oyster MV. Bullen launched Haven in May 2018.
“The idea was to make office space affordable for people,” Bullen said in an interview with The Times. “For people who are either just starting out in their careers, or who have been working for a while, but from home.”
According to data collected by the Martha’s Vineyard Donors Collaborative, 28 percent of Islanders are self-employed, and Dukes County has the highest percentage of people working from home in the state.
“Nevette and I did a survey last [fall] and asked if people would be interested,” Bullen said. “The response was really overwhelming. We knew right away that this was something people were at least curious about.”
The stars aligned, and a space opened up behind Morrice Florist on 149 State Rd. in Vineyard Haven, which Haven’s first 10 members occupied from May through December 2018. In January, Bullen took the group about a half-mile up the road to 516 State Rd. — a bigger space with more parking and more exposure — it’s where FLY Yoga and Vineyard Power used to be.
Haven’s “founding members” are Galligan, Brookes, and Previd, along with Marquetta Drakes, Regan Maund, and Jenn Brown. There are 11 members total, and room for a few more, according to Bullen. Haven members can either be designated ($300/month), or floaters ($200/month). Designated members sit at the same desks, and floaters float. Hours are from 7 am to 9 pm.
“It’s like night and day how productive you can be when you only have the space for a certain amount of time,” Bullen said. “It’s get-down-to-business time.”
Members can vouch for that. Bella Morias is taking a semester off from college, and is building a branding development company.
“Being at home trying to work while my dad is also running his business from home is difficult,” Morias said. “Then I came here, and I’m here every day. It’s so much easier to work somewhere that’s not in your house.”
“The resources are just great,” Previd said. “It gets me out of my home office. I use it as a quiet, light, and airy space where I can just get things done.”
Many Haven members are also mothers, which inspired the name itself. “It’s an escape from the laundry and dish-doing,” Bullen said. “It also has this really beautiful light and calming feel — like a nice retreat. A haven.”
The space’s decor is a labor of love. “Makenzie sits there,” Bullen said, nodding toward one of the desk spaces that line the bright and naturally lit Haven. “She’s sort of a closet interior decorator … She had this storage space full of furniture, this rug, and stuff just came pouring in. I don’t know what we would have done without her.”
“Emily’s husband is a builder, so he built us these desks custom to our original space. Magically, they also worked in here, which was pretty incredible.”
The mood of the space is set by soft colors, white walls, and plenty of windows. There are indoor plants, fairy lights, and outdoor seating. There’s a small kitchenette with bottomless coffee, tea, and seltzer, a conference room with comfortable chairs, and a shoe rack filled with slippers. It’s the type of space where you can feel your heart rate drop. There’s a weightlessness, and “some really good energy from it being a yoga studio,” Bullen said.
The group has a basic code of conduct: Talk softly, don’t talk to people with headphones on, and keep the music low. “Everyone’s really focused,” Bullen said. “People are really supportive of each other.”
Haven members have monthly check-ins, where they talk about what they’re working on.
“A lot of really great collaboration comes from that,” Bullen said. “I work with Nevette a lot. Bella works with Emily and Nevette a lot. You just get a sense for how much people are doing here. It’s so classic Vineyard. Everyone is doing a million things.”
Haven goes beyond the limits of a coworking space, and is also a community hub. The space is open for community events, member or not. They currently have craft Tuesdays from 6 to 8 pm. Sherry Sidoti hosted a “Mindfulness Business-ing” on Wednesday, March 13. Morias kickstarted a “Branding and Marketing” workshop series in early March. There’s a spring opening on Friday, April 5, from 5 to 7 pm. Bullen said she’d love to see the space host more events and professional development workshops. Haven is also in need of some art, and Bullen wants to see the space showcase local work.
“I like the idea that the space can be used by anyone in the community who wants to share whatever it is they do,” Bullen said. “They can be supported in this casual setting. It’s fun.”
For more information on Haven, visit havenmv.com.
This article by Brittany Bowker originally appeared on mvtimes.com.