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New co-working space for women opens in Cedar Rapids

The Dostal House, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Co-working spaces are a popular spot for startups to spring out of, and an increasing number of those spaces are catering to women, like The Wing in New York. Iowa’s first women-only co-working space and social club, The Dostal House, recently opened in Cedar Rapids.

How The Dostal House works

The Dostal House’s founder, Meegan Hofmeister, opened her first business, The Boutique in Newbo, in 2012. She enjoyed the experience but discovered that being a business owner came with some downsides.

“I found that being a small business owner was extremely lonely,” Hofmeister said. “I spent a lot of my free time on my own, working to get customers through the door. I felt really isolated and didn’t have a group of mentors, which looking back, was something I was hungry for.”

The Dostal House’s founder, Meegan Hofmeister

She found that feeling while working with Emily Carlson of Written Apparel as Carlson’s business went through the Iowa Startup Accelerator. After the accelerator ended, Hofmeister started working to “crack the code” of social media, spending time in co-working spaces. She didn’t enjoy that experience and found herself working from home more and more, taking her back to the isolated feeling she got running her own business.

“I needed a space that I could wake up and be super excited to go to, build my own little empire and work with like-minded women,” Hofmeister said.

The Dostal House, located right next door to the old location of The Boutique in Newbo, became that space. It has a boutique and salon on the first floor, featuring products by Dostal House co-workers. Hofmeister is hosting an open house this weekend, but the space is already full, with a waitlist.

Written Apparel was one of the first to sign up for the space. Other clients include the craft cosmetics business Dollup Beauty and vegan caterers Rawlicious.

Getting social at Dostal

Women hoping to work out of The Dostal House have to sign up for the waitlist for now, but Hofmeister hopes that a social club aspect of Dostal House will let the organization be more inclusive.

“We’ll be hosting regular events as part of our social club with happy hours, workshops for personal and professional growth, book clubs and community events,” Hofmeister said.

The next step for Dostal House

Hofmeister is happy to have a wait list already, but she wants to get as many women into The Dostal House as she possibly can. That means changes may be coming down the line.

“I had no idea how many women there were hungry for something like this,” Hofmeister said. “As an entrepreneur, I already have my wheels turning. I’d love to be able to cater to more women and make this an even bigger space and have a bigger impact on the community.”

Joe Lawler is a freelance reporter based in Des Moines.