Looking to nab a spot at one of KC’s coworking spaces? You’re not just picking a desk — you’re picking a network.
WeWork, 1828 Walnut in Corrigan Station, has transformed four stories in a former Crossroads Arts District garment factory into a mix of open spaces and private offices. Amenities range from free coffee and fruit water to a front desk staff and conference rooms for client meetings and team huddles.
This isn’t your traditional office, so these aren’t your traditional coworkers. Here’s who we met.
The Global Strategist
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Robert Mulokwa, came to WeWork, 1828 Walnut in Corrigan Station, to launch his business. In the process, he’s found a community of entrepreneurs and a nationwide support network.
Mulokwa’s company, Arkiv (pronounced archive) is an online marketplace for sneaker enthusiasts that inventories, stores and sells collectable shoes. Many of them, like the original version of the Nike Air Yeezy, a collaboration with Kanye West, go for hundreds of dollars.
“These sneakers are commodities,” Mulokwa says. “They are very valuable assets. The secondary market in U.S. — just for sneakers — is over a billion dollars a year. That’s 300 million pairs of sneakers a year.”
Mulokwa likes being around other young entrepreneurs and the offices at WeWork are filled with people in a variety of fields, from tech to travel.
He also appreciates how easy collaboration is with other members. Casual conversations over a cup of coffee can lead to business deals. But for Mulukwa, the biggest plus is the ability to scale his business without a huge outlay of cash.
WeWork has coworking spaces in many cities in the US and abroad. Mulokwa plans to use that network to expand his business in New York, Miami, Atlanta, and Los Angeles — all big markets for vintage footwear.
“WeWork is the key to our business strategy,” says Mulokwa. “If we open up offices in those four cities, plus our Chicago location, our rent would still be a fraction of opening one brick-and-mortar storefront.”
Recently, Jovan Landry heard someone describe her as an “interdisciplinary artist.” The filmmaker, photographer and emcee thinks the term suits her. She’s not someone who fits neatly into one category.
“I really try to emphasize that a lot at first,” Landry says. “It’s who I am.”
This idea of working across different platforms is what inspires Landry’s newest project, “Synergy,” a hip-hop album created exclusively by women.
“There is collaboration out there, but it’s not like an album that’s produced entirely by women,” Landry explains. “There’s always some male influence, especially behind the scenes. That’s what will make this project stand out.”
The Social Entrepreneur
Another innovator at WeWork is engineer Grace Hsia, who started her company Warmilu after she discovered that 75 percent of babies born prematurely die from hypothermia.
“I was born one month premature, so I had this very surreal moment,” Hsia recalls. “I was lucky to be born here.”
She says her special interest in saving premature babies “gave me the extra push and motivation to convince my team to work on this particular challenge.” Within six months of launching, Warmilu had a working prototype.
The company makes safe, reusable heating packs that help regulate the body temperature of premature infants. Her product is currently used in hospitals and clinics in places that don’t always have electric incubators, such as Kenya and Somalia.
For Hsia, making the world a better place is to her business.
To learn more about WeWork or schedule a tour, visit wework.com.