Celebrating rad working communities all over the globe! In this edition of community shoutout we chat to Hayley, the Happiness Concierge and Community Manager at One Roof Women, the coworking home for women who are making it happen in Melbourne, Australia.

“Hayley has given herself the title of Happiness Concierge. She brings laughter, banter and good vibes to One Roof every single day. Hayley is One Roof’s social butterfly. You’ll find her dancing around, having a chit chat and taking good care of our members and their every needs. Hayley will inspire you to be active, eat healthy, occasionally walk around with no shoes and not take life too seriously.”

One Roof has become Australia’s leading coworking space dedicated to women-led business. This means businesses with a female founder, cofounder, CEO and / or has a core value of gender equality or promoting women.

One Roof has morphed into an entire ecosystem, supporting women & girls at every stage of the entrepreneurial journey. Access to a carefully designed & affordable shared workspace, targeted business support including accelerators & masterminds, meditation, yoga & mindfulness activities, curated connections to a global community & access to high class mentors & experts are just a sampling of what One Roof has to offer.

One Roof is THE space, community & support system for aspiring & established female entrepreneurs. Run by women for women. We just get it.


Why is it important to have coworking spaces dedicated to females?

There is an awesome report called the Dell Gender Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index (GEDI) and it talks about what prospers and fosters a female entrepreneur and what is a good environment for them: business support, mentoring, curated culture targeted to connect people — these things and much more are what One Roof provide. Australia is actually second in the world in the Dell GEDI report but if you go to any pitching competition, where are the women? Pitching events aren’t made for women. Women more often than not get up and say their values, talk about the money they lost, include their kids and the parts of their lives that contribute to their business, but more often than not, men don’t. From an investor’s point of view, they don’t want to hear about your kids or how much money you lost or anything that’s holding you back from your business, they just want to know what you can do in the business. We need to even this imbalance.

The startup ecosystem is male dominated. Women are often left out of the equation. It is hard to find coworking spaces and startup programs that have successfully achieved an equal and diverse representation. 

One Roof started because Sheree saw injustice in her professional career towards women. She turned her frustration into a passion.

What is it like being in a female focussed coworking space?

We’re told countless times by members that coming into our space is like nothing they’ve experienced before. One Roof thrives off our ability to create authentic connection between entrepreneurs and I think a large part of that is the majority of our members are female. Females want to see each other succeed and as such, the space is naturally more honest, challenging to push our members further; but at the same time the community is supportive and encouraging for those rough days. 

One Roof is female centric. We think about the unique challenges, needs and ambitions of women and every detail counts. This includes the little things like our partnership with organic tampon brand TOM Organic. The way we design and curate our programs are also done differently. For instance, rather than hosting large pitch competitions in a dragon’s den format, we host dinners with investors. We curate an experience that is both nurturing and challenging. 

Obviously the startup ecosystem is hectic and being a start-up team, we totally relate to our member’s daily grind. The burnout is so real, and sometimes you have to cry, but One Roof is all about mitigating the isolation experienced by so many entrepreneurs. One Roof is a community of like-minded, supportive and passionate people.

Have​ ​you​ ​found​ ​that​ ​having​ ​a​ ​female​ ​centric atmosphere​ ​has​ ​encouraged​ ​members​ ​to​ ​be​ ​more​ ​collaborative?

One Roof isn’t a female only coworking space. It is a female centric space. Something that is interesting to the point of having a female centric coworking space is that one of the male cofounders who work in our space has told us that he loves working at One Roof because women have a tendency to be more real and genuine, they are supportive and kind, and don’t tend to bring ego or arrogance into what they do. As a generalisation, women also tend to be really good at collaborating. This is so important in the startup world.

How does everyone encourage and empower each other?

Everyone is at different stages of their businesses. We have a woman who is turning 25 and won the Queen’s Young Leader Award — Maddie, she’s incredible. She’s been running her own organisation, Little Dreamers since she was nine. On the other side we have the team Finch were featured as the top 40 Melbourne startups to watch in 2017. These are two of our members who are doing truly incredible things and they are interacting daily with other members, and the advice goes both ways. It’s cool to celebrate that and have people around you who are very happy for your success.

How has the reaction been to a female focussed coworking space?

Most people understand the value and need for a female focused coworking space. There is a significant gender gap in entrepreneurship and we will all benefit when we close that gap. One Roof wouldn’t be what it is without the support from our community, mentors, corporates, sponsors and so on. This includes both males and females. One Roof’s inception was very timely. We created One Roof just as the conversation about women in business, leadership and entrepreneurship came to the fore.

Do you have mainly teams or individuals in your space? What are your residents like?

We have a blend of both teams and individuals. As mentioned before, all our businesses (we have over 70 now) either have a female founder, cofounder or CEO. We are industry agnostic and our members span across a diverse range of industries including finance, health, tech, education and marketing. We have startups, social enterprises, not for profits, freelancers, consultants, remote workers and even corporates utilising the facilities and community. One Roof is literally an entire ecosystem!

You mentioned that you are sponsored by an organic tampon brand — do you have any other partnerships?

Our greatest sponsor is our landlord Central Equity. One Roof wouldn’t exist without their support. Optus has sponsored the internet. MYOB have been sponsoring many of our events. We collaborate with like minded organisations such as The League of Extraordinary Women, Startup Victoria, General Assembly and Collabosauras. We have partnerships with a range of onsite experts who provide 1:1 business support to our members. Our subject matter experts include legal, accounting, social media, marketing, investment, sales, design thinking, software development, government grants and pitching.

Do you and your residents do things together?

Yes! We host Wine Down every Friday where we have wine and cheese. It is an opportunity for our members to celebrate the end of the week and connect with one another in a more informal setting. 

On Tuesday’s we run Mastermind sessions. It is a lunchtime workshop which is facilitated by a One Roof team member and it gives participants the opportunity to share a specific business challenge and seek advice and support from others at the table. It is all about tapping into the collective genius of other entrepreneurs and business owners. 

We want to be surrounded by people who are succeeding and also celebrate your success

It’s also inspiring to hear about other people’s success too, right?!

Yes! And everyone has so many different skills! There’s a woman here (I love her so much) who always has ideas for everyone else’s business, always! She always goes up to other people like “so, I think we could do this with you and your business.” She’s an amazing filmmaker too — we had a movie night one night, and the next day she sent us all a video she had created of the movie night! She just really loves capturing other people’s businesses and what they do and making something tangible that they can use for advertising or their social media, and I love that! It’s amazing watching her go up to new people and say “I’ve got an idea because I’ve been thinking about your business…” — she thinks about other people’s businesses all the time, and it shows that she cares.

What in your opinion makes a good community member?

A good community member is passionate, hard-working, daring, curious, ambitious, genuine, productive, supportive and caring. They are focused on their business, they have a yearning to learn and constantly garner feedback and insight, they care about the success of people around them and they are open to innovating, finding new and better ways of doing things and collaborating.

Are there values that your space runs on?

For purpose. I honestly don’t think that you can run your own business if you don’t believe in it, or you don’t have passion behind it. How can you put in 80 hour weeks if there’s no passion? What is the point if you don’t have that drive. So definitely purpose and passion. 

One of our other values is to feel the fear and do it anyway. I’m talking at a high school this week — I’m going to be so scared and go bright red, I know it, but you just have to feel the fear and do it. And that’s what working in the startup world is like — you’re constantly pushed out of your comfort zone, you have no idea what you’re doing half the time (if anyone says they do, they’re full of it!)

One Roof Women’s Values

Community & Support
Purpose & Passion
Safe, Nurturing & Challenging Environment
Bold & Daring
Hard Working
Respect 👊

How do you attract new members?

A lot of them come from referrals which is the best form of marketing! We also offer free trials so that people can experience the space first and we can get to know them, because as much as we’re not selective, we also want the right people here. 

We want to make sure people are the right fit for us and we’re the right fit for them. We want the right people. People will either like your space or they won’t, and that’s fine! It’s about Synergy. 

There are so many coworking spaces in Melbourne and we have a good relationship with a lot of them so then if we’re not the right fit we can ask them what they are actually looking for and encourage them to check out other spaces that might suit better. 

We are different to most other coworking spaces. We put community and support at the heart of everything we do. We are all about supporting women in business and ensuring they thrive and succeed. Coworking is just one element that makes up One Roof. We are a small team but we work hard to know each and every one of our members and to ensure we tailor our support to their needs. We help our members by curating connections to investors, mentors, experts, customers, partners, find them speaking engagements and help them host events. We curate all our programs around their needs as and when these needs arise.

What’s next for One Roof?

One Roof is a tried and tested concept in 4 cities across Australia and the USA. We have tested One Roof with short term hubs in Melbourne, Sydney, Los Angeles and NYC. Melbourne has been our greatest success to date. Our plan is to set up multiple spaces around Victoria, then Australia and eventually globally. These spaces will all be female centric hubs with a different target audience. Some will focus on early stage startups and some on more later stage. If you work from a One Roof space you have access to our events and programs regardless of where you work. For instance in the future you might work from a One Roof hub in Cremorne and attend our Friday wine downs at our space in Southbank. We are also refining our incubator program and will be building an online platform to connect our global community and ensure women can access the support and magic of One Roof regardless of where they live in the world. We like to think Big!

What tips would you have for people starting their first coworking space to make things easier?

Private offices and anchor tenants are really the ones that assist you in becoming sustainable

Definitely get anchor tenants. Have a good space with private offices and have it really well thought out. Sheree’s partner, Rod, is actually opening a coworking space, Engine House, in a couple of months near Chapel Street with a 10 year lease, so he’s thinking about every single element of it — how many offices can he fit, let’s get a podcasting room in — really thinking things through and thinking of the user. How will people use the space? How do you want them to use the space? What will make it the most efficient and effective? 

This is something that is great to get other people involved in. If you go from just one person’s perspective, you won’t get a good product. If you just go from your perspective, that’s just how you would use the space, but naturally everyone is different and has different personalities.

Know your target market! You can’t target everyone — it’s not viable. 

Interior wise: consistency. Know your brand and be consistent. Don’t bring things into the space that don’t support your brand. Add value and brand. Graffiti walls are also advised!

Team CoLo want to give a huge shout out to Hayley and Maria for showing us around and telling us all about One Roof Women! We love what they’re doing and they definitely deserve some love so be sure to follow them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!

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