Melissa Alam got an idea that would change her life during a happy hour two days before her birthday.
Her idea: Open a co-working space for ambitious women.
Alam – a 26-year-old alumna – opened The Hive, a 900-square-foot, female-only coworking space in Old City, this past November.
“I previously worked at a co-working space and I realized the community there was awesome,” Alam said. “[I] realized how the business model worked and I thought, ‘Why not try to a smaller scale of that?’”
Alam grew up in Chicago and attended boarding school in Connecticut before moving to Philadelphia to attend Temple. She majored in marketing and international business.
“I just loved the diversity because I was coming from a boarding school in the middle of nowhere in Connecticut,” Alam said.
At Temple, Alam learned people and leadership skills as she became involved with Greek Life and joined Kappa Phi Gamma, a South Asian sorority. By her senior year, she was president of the Multicultural Greek Council.
“When I was president of MGC at Temple, the board [members] were all male beneath me,” Alam said. “I was never afraid of shying away from a position because a man wanted it.”
Alam said her career was not working for her. She quit her job to become an entrepreneur.
“The 9-to-6 routine didn’t match the lifestyle I wanted and it really sucked my creativity,” Alam said. “I thrive on being creative and being able to create ideas for other people. I was so busy with my 9-to-6 jobs that I realized I needed to go on my own and do what makes me happy.”
Alam said she worked side jobs as a hostess and as a product demonstrator in department stores. In the spare time she had, she immersed herself in learning and did freelance work.
“I already have a good foundation for digital marketing but I needed to continue learning so I would go to conferences, or workshops, or take online courses for websites,” she said.
Two years later, in July 2014, Alam got the idea to open The Hive and shortly after, in September, she signed the lease for it. She spent the month after decorating the space, which involved “a million trips to Target, IKEA and Walmart.”
The Hive provides a comfortable space for professional women to work and share their ideas with others. Membership is from a month-to-month basis and includes the space, free coffee, tea and snacks, access to workshops and free printing and scanning.
“I opened The Hive because there was a need for a comfortable space for women to work out of and a community to be built,” Alam said. “There are a lot of great networking groups out there, but I wanted to create my own with my own kind of feel and vibe.”
Along with running The Hive and doing freelance work, Alam is also the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Femme & Fortune, an online magazine for ambitious women.
“I knew I wanted something bigger than my personal blog,” Alam said. “I wanted a site where other women could write.”
Working with other women comes naturally for Alam, since she was heavily involved in her sorority.
“Female empowerment is exciting for me and it encourages me to keep motivating other women,” Alam said. “Women keep coming into my life and saying, ‘Thanks for helping me.’ It keeps motivating me to keep going with The Hive and Femme & Fortune and keep going on this path.”
Kelley Hey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org