In a town characterized by 19th century buildings and an emerging green scene, a team of six friends sought out to bring a bit of urban edge to energize Connecticut’s most populous and once uber industrial city of Bridgeport. They recently introduced the city’s first co-working space—B:Hive—a welcome heart beat in the city’s downtown area that’s attracting “suits” and hipsters alike. It could be the self-described “anti-office” environment that draws in local corporate clients, or the upcycled bicycle desk and Ping-Pong table (a lucky Goodwill find) that gets freelancers to ditch their kitchen tables for the likes of B:Hive’s unique space. Whatever it is, this ultra hip, art deco co-working spot might just be what Bridgeport needs to merge sustainable style with an environment that supports local business, and helps those looking to put their stamp on Bridgeport a creative space to thrive.
“We wanted to create something that couldn’t be replicated,” explains Madeline Rhodes about the array of edgy thrifted furniture and upcycled barn wood tabletops. Rhodes, a master thrifter and trained visual merchandiser, didn’t have a big budget to work with but wanted to make sure that everyone that walked through the doors felt at home, comfortable and energized by the creative environment. Private conference calls can be placed inside of the makeshift phone booths, and vintage clothing can be purchased in between coffee breaks.
Marcella Kovac, Amy Henson, Jordan Rabidou, Luke Scott and Ben Henson make up the remaining of the sextet. The owners maintain day jobs in graphic design, education, computer programming, marketing and planning (respectively), while moonlighting at B:Hive during off hours. The hodgepodge of unique skills and talent each of them bring to the business is evident in the brilliant design and flawless execution of the space.
The team didn’t spend months agonizing over the details of a solid business plan, nor did they seek out funders for their operation. Diving feet first after visiting a friend’s co-working space in Detroit, they became inspired to bring something just as juicy and community-driven to Bridgeport. They came up with the concept in March and by May set up shop and opened their doors to the public.
The B:Hive is positioned to attract talented professionals, freelancers needing reprieve from working out of their homes and those “interesting” people who simply need a cool place to hang out and network with other movers and shakers in the area.
Despite their ability to quickly open the doors of their business, this group doesn’t plan to rush the process of building a closer business community. Instead, the twenty and thirty-somethings owners are taking lessons from bees that are, by nature, communal (and thus the inspiration behind the company’s name). With only a few months under its belt, the B:Hive is a place where entrepreneurs have pitched ideas to venture capitalists, stressed out freelancers have participated in afternoon yoga, and some have even taken advantage of nap time on one of the tufted vintage sofas.