It only took one visit for Ali Greenberg to see Richmond’s unique charm and quirk.
Greenberg, a recent Richmond transplant from New York City, said she had struggled with discovering things to do in the city, finding a work space that fit her lifestyle and maintaining relationships with other female professionals. In addition, the lack of space for women in the workforce frustrated Greenberg, she said.
These problems she faced were the driving forces behind the creation of The Broad, Richmond’s new women-only community space.
With an open-minded view of womanhood and professionalism, The Broad is creating space for working women, Greenberg said. Its members have access to communal work spaces, a private boardroom, a fully stocked coffee bar and a "breather room" for when they need a break from work.
Katie Gilstrap, a Richmond native, teaches full-time at Virginia Commonwealth University and adjunctly at the University of Richmond, where she earned her MBA.
“I think that finding a community is always important, and I do think that as women we have dynamics of life that are unique to being female,” Gilstrap said.
For $250 a month, members have daytime access to The Broad, invitations to member-only events, discounts on paid events and unlimited guest passes for programs, according to The Broad's website.
“When we build spaces that are actually built for us, then we have the ability to thrive," Greenberg said. "It creates an even playing field, and then it's up to us what we do with it."
Several creative women in the Richmond community contributed to the space, providing artwork, light installations, decor, accessories and murals, Greenberg said.
“I want The Broad to feel like a second home or clubhouse and a place that you can take pride in,” Greenberg said.
The Broad will host curated panels and discussions featuring outside experts, Greenberg said. Topics will include the wage gap, race in the workplace, negotiating a job, beauty, fashion and art.
“This is a space that is collaborative," Greenberg said. "It is of and by the women of Richmond, and it will remain that way because we’re stronger together, and we’re better when we have the chance to collaborate together."
Jasmina Zulic, owner of clothing and accessories boutique Mod&Soul, was one of the 84 founding Broads when the doors opened in early February. As a small-business owner, Zulic said she had taken interest in the networking and marketing resources, but more important to her had been the genuine support of local women-run businesses.
“I think it’s important to support everyone who’s trying to do something in their field, especially since the Broad Street community is extremely tight-knit,” Zulic said. “We’ve created a community of our own.”
To Zulic, The Broad will provide a positive space and an opportunity to escape her day-to-day life.
Ultimately, The Broad aims to make space for women to grow, work, learn and connect in Richmond, Greenberg said.
“We built a table, and we made it big so you can have space,” Greenberg said, “because [men are] not making space for us at theirs.”
Contact contributor Jessica Dugan at firstname.lastname@example.org.