She donned business suits for years while working in senior marketing and PR roles at corporations like IBM, Thomson Reuters and AOL.
So when Jolie Hunt decided to hang out her own shingle, establishing the New York agency Hunt & Gather, she made a decision sure to rankle anyone in commercial real estate: eschewing the office.
But her refusal to lease space in a Manhattan skyscraper or a Brooklyn loft was not financially driven. Hunt, like many entrepreneurs, decided her newly established brand would benefit handsomely in shared workspace rather than its own four walls.
“For us, it’s about the community and the energy in the space,” said Hunt, who settled on NeueHouse, in Manhattan’s bustling Flatiron district. “To go from such a corporate existence to a place with beautiful art and great coffee and kale salads and all sorts of interesting people, it’s just been the real kick in the pants we needed to get this company off the ground.”
Communal workspace is nothing new. Companies like HQ and Regus created cookie-cutter micro-offices in major cities and suburbs throughout the 1990s, attracting executives who outgrew Starbucks as their place of business. Competition is fierce.
There’s Link Coworking in Austin, Texas, Indy Hall in Philadelphia, and dozens of sites in New York, ranging from WeWork, Sunshine Suites and Wix Lounge to Indiegrove, WorkHouse NYC and The Productive.
NeueHouse is a decidedly upscale take on the coworking concept. Fashioning itself as a private club, designer David Rockwell’s industrial-chic interior has attracted record company executives, magazine publishers and Hunt, an accomplished communicator who needed a home base to service her new roster of clients.
Hunt acknowledged that PR and marketing types are often chosen for their “style, taste and pizzazz” as well as their perspective on business situations, so she’s banking on the artistic buzz of NeueHouse to add cache to a brand that’s just getting started.
Rather than an office, she occupies a “studio,” her assistant sitting nearby rather than in another room. It’s a far cry from Thomson Reuters.
“As a loud talker, I’m certainly in purgatory more often than not,” she mused.