Black Entrepreneur Opens Co-Working Franchise in Minneapolis, Raises $1.3 Million for National Expansion

Alex West Steinman has opened her initial franchise location of The Coven in Minneapolis. It is said to be the first woman- and Black-owned co-working space in the city.

The new location along the Lake Street corridor is a partnership with the Dogwood Coffee Co. and provides a smaller concept with designated desks and private offices.

The Coven, which Steinman co-founded, describes itself as a business that offers community space to help women,  transgender, and non-binary people become confident leaders. The fresh site will  join locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Steinman tells BLACK ENTERPRISE that she has raised $1.3 million to expand The Coven nationally and has submitted Franchise Disclosure Documents to start that expansion in several states, including Illinois, North Carolina, and California.

She expects The Coven to sign three franchisees by late this year and another 10 in 2024. The inclusivity-focused co-working business  plans to expand by identifying underdog markets and neighborhoods and investing in communities nationwide. The plan, she adds, is to grow intentionally and sustainably.

Plans for franchise expansion come after Steinman started The Coven in 2017 with her co-founders. After closing its physical space temporarily due to COVID-19, the business launched a digital platform to keep its community connected.

“As we reopened and members started coming back, we saw an increase in team and private office interest,” she says. “Today, we are at 100% capacity in private offices.”

All told,  Steinman says $2.9 million has been raised since 2019 to help the business expand.

She is confident her franchise model can keep growing because more companies are leaving formal office environments and pursuing co-working spaces. She says The Coven has three assets: an ability to design inclusive spaces, a strong marketing background to build brands, and mentoring entrepreneurs.

“Those skill-sets and capabilities allow us to support franchises and ensure they can thrive as business owners,” Steinman says. “We’re really excited to be at this stage and support more entrepreneurs.”

In Minnesota, Dogwood Coffee invested $50,000 to open Lake Street as a franchise location. Steinman says that the neighborhood was heavily impacted by the 2020 uprisings following George Floyd’s murder.

“Revitalization of the Lake Street corridor is essential to the well-being of Minneapolis,” she explains of the dense business district is filled with organizations, businesses, and families of so many backgrounds.

“We must invest in the communities we want to see thrive,” she says.

She says The Coven will continue to invest in marketing and advertising for the business to drive traffic to the East Lake location and its surrounding neighborhoods. Steinman says it now has a 50-plus person waitlist to occupy space.