Forging Friendships and New Beginnings
When I signed up for the Co.Starters program through Create Birmingham, I had no idea of the lasting impact it would have. Over the course of 10 weeks I forged friendships with fellow entrepreneurs. One of these entrepreneurs was Kim Lee, who is the founder of Forge, a new coworking space located in the mezzanine above The Pizitz Food Hall!
Over the course of the Co.Starters program, I had the privilege of hashing out business ideas with Kim and our other cohorts. Almost a year later, I not only have the privilege of seeing her vision come to life, but Forge will also act as the new home for Happenin’s in the ‘Ham!
The idea of a true coworking space came naturally to Kim as it combines her two areas of expertise. “I became aware of the concept and realized it wasn’t here in Birmingham. There was a huge gap when it came to working spaces in our city. My background in business and counseling helped to bridge that gap.” Forge allows Kim to provide a much needed space for a vast array of businesses who are able to interact while working in a sleek, modern space. While most coworking spaces focus on a specific industry, like tech or the arts, the members of Forge come from various industries, much like our Co.Starters cohort.
I asked Kim how similar Forge is to her initial plans. "The business plan hasn’t changed much. We are still very close to the original vision,” she replied. "My ideal member is still someone who is currently working from home, or in an office, feeling the pain of isolation, especially if they’ve gotten to the point that their business isn’t growing because they aren’t connected. Also, if they don’t want to sign a long term lease, we provide numerous short-term options.”
When it comes to the various options, Forge has both full-time and part-time memberships. You can also rent private office space on a short term basis. There are multiple conference rooms, of various sizes, that can be reserved for meetings and presentations. One of these conference rooms happens to be on the rooftop of The Pizitz and looks out onto the plunge pool, which has an amazing view of the city!
While the conference rooms and offices offer privacy, the best feature of Forge isn’t the free Revelator Coffee (a HUGE plus in my book!), the amazing location, or even the trendy furniture. “It’s the community,” says Kim. “The collaboration among members is key. Seven out of ten members that work out of a coworking space see an increase in revenue. We offer a professional place to bring clients and to work. Your business can grow here.” Kim points out that, as they grow, individual businesses can add members to their plan at a low cost. Any small business owner can tell you that the costs of opening up your first brick and mortar location are extensive. By working out of Forge, business owners can take the money they save on taxes, utilities, and maintenance and put it towards growing their business!
As far as locations go, Forge is perfectly positioned in the heart of the Birmingham renaissance. Nestled above the bustling Pizitz Food Hall, Forge is a great place to meet with clients, especially if you want diverse lunch options. The Pizitz provides two hours of free parking in a secure, covered, parking deck. Anyone who has ever spent time searching for parking near a downtown coffee shop, or spent time digging for quarters to feed the meter, will appreciate this. There are also two ZypBike Stations nearby that I'm sure I will be making use of!
How did Forge end up in such a great location? “A lot of places fell through,” says Kim. “When one of the places fell through, I contacted the Pizitz. They were looking to add a coworking space, but didn’t quite know how they were going to run it. It was a perfect fit!”
I am definitely looking forward to working out of Forge and interacting with my fellow members! As fun as it is to wake up and work from home in my pajamas, my cats don’t exactly contribute much to the creative process. They prefer to lay across my keyboard and beg for more food. I’m sure the members Forge will provide a much better sounding board when I’m coming up with creative ideas. As for what Kim is most looking forward to, “Opening!,” she say with a laugh. “I can’t wait to interact with all the people who are going to be here, watching their businesses grow, and seeing where the journey leads us. Forge will allow all kinds of businesses, not just tech, to thrive!”
To find out about all of the various membership options, and the perks that go along with each, you can visit www.workatforge.com for all of the details. Forge officially launches on Tuesday, September 5th. I’ll be there bright and early with a hot cup of Revelator coffee and a handful of M&M’s from the snack bar!
Forge is located at 120 19th St. N, Ste. 200, Birmingham 35203.
Follow Forge on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!