Are you thinking about joining a coworking space? Here in New York City, there are a variety of coworking options, and they’re all a little different. I decided to get a closer look at one of the spaces that has several locations around the city. It's called The Yard, and it's an amazing NYC coworking space filled with lots of inspiring people and a lot of hustle!
I recently spent a day hanging out at The Yard’s Flatiron South location at 234 Fifth Avenue, conveniently located across the street from the Museum of Sex. My host for this day was Tara Maylyn Frankel Leavitt, The Yard’s Director of Marketing. She introduced me to some people who either rent space there or at another Yard location, as well as one company with whom they partner on various projects and initiatives.
That partner company is called Arthur, and I started my day chatting with Arthur’s co-founders, Jinesh Shah and Leigh Sevin. Their business model is quite ingenious. They founded their company to solve a specific problem for busy, working women who need to put together a professional wardrobe, but don’t necessarily have the time to run around finding all the pieces. From a pool of about 30 professional stylists, they curate a matchmaking process that pairs each client with the right stylist, who will create a selection of items from the collections of online retailers and emerging designers. Clients end up with a custom online boutique of clothing chosen expressly for them, which they can purchase at their leisure.
Arthur has participated in a number of showcase events hosted by The Yard. Most recently, they tested a full office pop-up (think trunk show, only more elaborate) at an invitation-only event held at The Yard’s newest City Hall Park location at 116 Nassau St., in Manhattan’s Financial District. It was exciting to see the kind of support The Yard is offering to this relatively new company, which has only been live since October of 2016.
Those of you familiar with the typical start-up trajectory will recognize Jinesh and Leigh’s path from Venture for America fellowship (they met there in Miami a few years ago), to accelerator program to setting up shop in New York City with the help of friend and family investment funding. But this isn’t the only type of business affiliated with The Yard. The next person I met had quite a different story. His name is Jonathan Evan Goldberg.
Jonathan is an attorney with the law firm of FisherBroyles and the founder of a non-profit organization called Cherub Improv. First off, I have to tell you; I find it gratifying to know that at least one lawyer in the world is also feeding his creative spirit through some theatrical activity. In a parallel universe, I was also supposed to become a lawyer but ended up a theater major… so I guess I have a soft spot in my heart for a man who can do both!
At FisherBroyles, Jonathan specializes in employment law counseling and employment litigation. But his work with Cherub Improv is on a whole different level. This organization offers free improv performances and workshops to underserved communities such as seniors, veterans, hospice patients and at-risk youth. They’ve also taken their improv workshops into the corporate world, where they offer them as part of leadership training and other employee programs. Profits from these activities go right back into the support of Cherub Improv’s free services.
Interestingly, both of Jonathan’s ventures lend themselves well to the use of a coworking space. Jonathan explained that his law firm, FisherBroyles, is a cloud-based firm that requires their partners to each be responsible for their own working space. It’s an entrepreneurial model that lends itself well to The Yard’s offerings. And since Cherub Improv’s activities are largely site specific, his modest office needs, overall lend themselves to a coworking space.
According to Jonathan, networking at The Yard is great - and he should know, he hosts regular events there every few months. The first event he hosted was a FisherBroyles event that he put on himself, but it was so successful, The Yard co-hosted the next one along with two other companies to triple the size of the crowd. Now they do them every few months out of The Yard’s Herald Square location on 32nd St., where Jonathan has his office.
The next Yard residents I met were Armand Khatrie and Ari Levine, founders of tracksu.it, an innovative media sales agency designed to empower emerging technology platforms and other forward-thinking brands. Partnering with a diverse portfolio of agencies, super cool platforms, independent strategists and salespeople, Armand and Ari pair brands with just the right resources to help them reach their ideal audience.
These self-proclaimed digital hustlers bring some strong industry cred to the table.They both logged a number of years at Tumblr, as that platform was coming into its own, Ari as their first brand strategist, and Armand later coming on as a senior brand strategist. They combine their collective experience securing media budgets from brands like Unilever, Samsung and American Express and building relationships with Fortune 500 companies and their agencies, with iterative thinking to create truly original and authentic business collaborations.
By bringing different partners to the table for strategic, win/win exchanges, tracksu.it can create cutting edge influencer campaigns for clients ranging from digital publishers and apps to VR companies and other emerging brands. Ari and Armand’s well-curated relationships have put them in a unique position to go beyond the usual mega platforms and also match clients with smaller, more targeted platforms designed to connect with very specific communities.
For an outfit like theirs, which includes Ari and Armand, plus a small, mostly mobile team, a co-working space offers just the right measure of solidity without the needless overhead of a full-scale, dedicated office space. They found The Yard last fall when they were sampling various spaces around town on an hourly basis. It was one of the first locations they checked out, and they liked it so much, they decided to commit to a regular office. In addition to the overall chill vibe, they particularly appreciate the nice mix of men and women who work there, all of whom are aspiring entrepreneurs, as well as the aesthetic that includes exposed brick, a rotating selection of artwork on the walls, and big windows facing out onto the NYC streets.
These are just the type of people that The Yard founders Morris Levy and Richard Beyda had in mind when they started their first co-working space together in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in 2011. Morris explained that at that time, “... there weren’t many options for flexible workers or companies who needed space but couldn’t commit to an expensive, long-term lease. I have six kids myself and know that working from home is not always the best solution for everyone; so we wanted to create a space for the many entrepreneurs who wanted the community they called home, and the borough we grew up and now live in, to also be the headquarters for their growing businesses.”
Since that time, The Yard has added six Manhattan locations, with plans to open a seventh at Columbus Circle in May, as well as one in Bryant Park and another Brooklyn space in the Gowanus neighborhood. A new location will also be opening up in Philadelphia this month, with additional spaces planned for Washington, DC, and Boston. Featuring a refined aesthetic, a variety of different sized meeting spaces, and great views (windows are an important feature of most of their spaces), The Yard seeks to strike “the perfect balance between collaboration and privacy,” allowing for authentic networking without creating the feeling of being in a fishbowl.
For tenants like registered dietitian, Amy Shapiro, founder and director of Real Nutrition NYC, The Yard seems to have exactly what she needs. A former long-term renter at the female-oriented, Flatiron District co-working space, In Good Company, which shuttered its doors back in 2015, she found The Yard to have the right ambiance and just enough privacy for her needs. A solo practitioner, most of Amy’s clients are working or educated women and moms, as well as some doctors with whom she consults directly. Her forward-thinking approach to nutrition reflects the entrepreneurial spirit that permeates The Yard’s progressive, co-working environment.
The child of parents who worked in the health and wellness world, it seemed Amy was destined to find her life’s calling in the nutritional field. After working at various health food stores in high school, she tried her hand at political science and pre-law in college and even worked in the corporate world for eight years after that. But the pull to wellness was too powerful. After working as a yoga instructor, Amy went back to school for a second BA and a Masters as a dietitian and went to work in hospitals, followed by a private physician’s office. Ultimately, she realized that if she wanted to work more simply with real foods, as opposed to processed “nutritional” products, she’d have to strike out on her own, so she started her private practice.
As the mother of three children, Amy is a realist. Although she’s dedicated to eating real and healthy food, she also loves to go out, eat chocolate and drink wine. The same is true for her clients, many of whom travel a lot and so also eat and drink out frequently. Then there’s the question of time, of which nobody has enough. So she understands the need to keep nutrition practical and flexible.
Amy’s approach is to create a nutritional plan that is customized to the needs of each of her clients, designed to be practical and do-able. Her philosophy is one of moderation, in which we listen to our bodies and be mindful of our food choices. Personally, she buys all of her proteins at her local farmer’s market, prefers organic produce and eggs and cooks most of her own food. Although she doesn’t typically recommend supplements, she will suggest them once in awhile. Likewise, she may also recommend certain protein bars that are low in sugar and high in fiber - her personal favorites (because of course, I asked), are Chia Health Warrior Bars, the Nuts and Spices line of Kind Bars, Raw Rx Bars and Nugo Fiber Delish Bars.
And speaking of food, I have to add that during my day at The Yard, I made a lunch outing to the nearby Nomad location of the Num Pang Cambodian inspired sandwich shop. Num Pang, one of The Yard’s local community partners as well as a Yard member, serves up some of the best and freshest sandwiches I’ve tasted in the city. And packed with fresh vegetables, in addition to the variety of meat options, I’m sure they’d make Amy proud.