The sisters have met once a week for the past ten years thinking up business ideas together. Deb said the plan for a coworking space hatched about two years ago, due to her own frustrations of working from home.
After working at home as creative director of her small design firm, Deb said she craves being in a work community again. Not to mention, she said the small distractions like her dog barking while she was on professional phone calls started to tally up.
Deb said she considered renting coworking space in Pittsburgh, but did not want to spend her time commuting. So, the sisters took matters into their own hands and incorporated The Ahfis in August 2018.
“It’s a drought of places to work other than Panera and Starbucks,” said Deb, referencing the popular sandwich and coffee shops packed daily with people on laptops.
Deb acknowledged that coworking spaces have traditionally thrived in the compact layout of cities rather than the sprawl of the suburbs, but she’s confident the central location of the Blue Spruce Shoppes will prove effective.
“If you do a lot of reading on coworking spaces you find that some coworking spaces in the suburbs just don’t quite work as well as the city,” said Deb. “We believe it is because they are using the same business model that city coworking spaces use, and that is to find cheap warehouse space that is unused. You can’t do that in the suburbs because you will end up off the beaten path.”
With small offices, flexible work spaces, dedicated desks, a café, lounge, phone booth and conference room, Deb said The Ahfis is ideal for small businesses of three to five people, remote workers, consultants and freelancers. The space can fit a maximum of 45 people at a given time.
Monthly membership fees also provide access to free Wi-Fi, coffee and a popcorn bar.
With high industrial ceilings, big windows and a modern feel, Deb said she and Sue have paid close attention to the details.
“It’s been a big concern of ours to have this space be every bit as wonderful as spaces downtown like Alloy 26 and Beauty Shoppe,” said Deb. “We want this space to be a space people can feel proud to work there, and they can show it off and impress their guests.”
The Ahfis will also offer rentable event space and host monthly workshops and networking opportunities ranging from tax Q&As to CPR classes.
“We really think that it will be a benefit to this area,” said Deb. “We know that people are here and some are traveling into the city and some are working from home, but it will be great for them to have a professional space so close to home and not have to sit on the parkway.”