Walk into any coffee shop on a weekday and you’ll see office-less workers tapping away at their laptops, trying to get work done in a space anywhere other than their kitchen table or living room.
But to Nicole Vasquez and Levi Baer, the coffee shop atmosphere is missing some of the key elements that they think makes entrepreneurship so great: collaboration and community.
Vasquez and Baer, co-founders of coworking space Second Shift (3432 W. Diversey Ave.), are well aware of the struggles entrepreneurs have, and their mission is to provide a peaceful space to get work done and also connect with others who have a similar professional lifestyle.
“We want to be leaders in the notion that collaboration is a viable business model in a coworking community,” Baer said. “Throughout my life I’ve been the type of person where if I’m interested in something, I want to bring people with or pull people around that idea.”
Vasquez’s focus in the Second Shift mission is based on her “love for bringing people of all different backgrounds to exchange ideas and information, and my belief that coworking is redefining the way we work and providing the best solution for people.”
It’s been nearly a year since Vasquez and Baer opened Second Shift in Logan Square. It is the second coworking space founded by Vasquez, who also owns The Shift in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Vasquez partnered with Baer for Second Shift after he had spent time at The Shift previously for his own business endeavor, Coffee & Conversation, a group focused on collaboration between entrepreneurs and innovators.
Baer also helped Vasquez choose Logan Square as the location for Second Shift because of his connections and familiarity with the neighborhood.
“Levi is a Logan Square resident of [more than] 10 years and we wanted to open in the neighborhood we were most familiar with, and where we could have a local impact,” Vasquez said. “[We] shared the same belief that a people-focused, community coworking space could have a positive impact in the neighborhood, and help people to be their most productive and best version of themselves. We also believed it was much more than just a physical workspace: It’s a place where people can come to learn, meet, grow, and get connected.”
Their ethos has proven to be successful so far—Second Shift was voted Chicago’s Best Coworking Space in 2017 by the Chicago Reader.
“We were not expecting to win,” Baer said. “I was hoping that was something we could accomplish in 2018. Getting nominated in 2017 was totally unexpected. It was so cool to see that all of the nominations were for independent, small, community-focused spaces. All were about developing people inside of them.”
Freelance Project Manager Victoria Griesdoorn is a Second Shift member who is well-versed in coworking options.
“I’ve seen and worked from a lot of coworking spaces,” Griesdoorn said. “In 2016 I worked at 15 different ones. I know what I like and don’t like from having seen so many.”
Griesdoorn said that while coworking spaces are becoming more popular, it’s important to know what your priorities are when searching for the right place. She knew Second Shift met all of her priorities on her first visit there.
“For me, the important thing is having a light airy space that gives me the feeling of having a lot of personal space, having a lot of opportunities for different types of seating, friendly people that are happy to have a chat, and some social events,” said Griesdoorn. “When I went to Second Shift, I found all of that.”
Despite the growing competition of co-working spaces in Logan Square, such as newly opened Ampersand, Baer and Vasquez don’t see this as bad for business.
“Everyone wants to compete as a business, but there’s no reason that the success of one space is the failure of another space,” Baer said. “Coworking is growing fast. It is still so new to people working from home and from local spots outside the common coworking area of the Loop or River North that there’s going to be more demand as more people work remotely.”
Interested in seeing Second Shift firsthand? Come to our January Meetup at Second Shift tonight, Jan. 17. There will be free Giordano’s pizza and Revolution beer, as well as palm reading by Logan Square’s Principe Palmistry, and board games. Register here.