The Cowork Space in Pinelands Cape Town is known for its aesthetic and intimate feel. Pinelands is a close-knit community which made it the perfect setting when Wilna Beukes and Pauline Hawthorne decided to start The Cowork Space in October of 2015.
After running their own businesses from home for several years they felt that they needed human interaction, working from home was great but it gets lonely after a while. Pauline decided to look for a coworking space first but could not find anything suitable. She then chatted to Wilna and they decided to collectively rent an office which they could convert into a coworking space.
Pinelands was the practical option for them because of its centrality, it is about 20 minutes from town and easy to get to. But it was also a significant risk due to Pinelands being a suburban area, and the concept of coworking being so unknown within the community. What Wilna and Pauline found however was that once people were educated on what it was and the benefits of coworking they had little struggle getting clients.
Their demographic is mostly locals who aren’t keen on making the drive out to town, or felt the other coworking spaces didn’t suit their needs. The Cowork Space offers a quiet place for people to work and it’s beautifully made up with bright colors and flowers. It offers a real homely feel.
Most of their members are taking on a second job or a work from home role, or people who have left corporate to work for themselves. They have also felt that there is a seasonal dip, people tend to prefer to work from home during the rainy winter months.
The Cowork Space is unique in that it also has three other offices which they rent out on a more permanent basis. These offices are specifically for companies who only have a few employees but don’t have the cash-flow to be able to afford the rent on a standard office space. Having the option to rent an “office” within a coworking space has lots of appeal to startups in the area.
Wilna and Pauline still successfully run their own businesses within the travel and tourism industry and they do this from The Cowork Space, so they have quite the unique take as they are members as well as founders of the coworking space.
They found that one of their biggest challenges in the beginning was the speed of the internet, however with the arrival of fiber in Pinelands this challenge was eliminated.
Wilna mentions that she is very open to referring members to other spaces, should they feel the space is not ideal for them. Current members are what she describes as “second careers”, people who have decided to step out of corporate, start their own venture and often already have a house, a car, kids and other responsibilities. Therefore, the average age range is 30-40 years of age. This obviously presents a challenge when for example newly graduated designers are looking for more of a vibe, or a place with more noise.
Interpersonal relationships with their members are very important to Wilna and Pauline. They love getting involved and sharing knowledge. They also extend this to bringing cake or pizza and just having a good time at the space.
Wilna mentions that it is getting much easier getting member interest due to word of mouth and thanks to this they don’t need to spend a fortune on marketing. They have also found that offering a “free day”, to try out the space, is a winner. People very quickly decide on the space once they are there. It either fits or it doesn’t.