NEW NAPERVILLE COWORKING SPACE TARGETS FEMALE ENTREPRENUERS

DAILY HERALD FRONT PAGE NEWS!

By Marie Wilson

Things are clicking at work for the founders of a new co-working space in downtown Naperville called Klique.

Heather DeMonte, a storyteller and branding expert and Stacy Amoo-Mensah, a designer and illustrator, opened Klique in April above Costello Jewelers and quickly welcomed in six co-working customers after minimal promotion.

"We have people fall in love right when they walk in," DeMonte said. "We're really trying to create something special and unique."

The purpose of Klique is to offer a productive workspace for stay-at-home entrepreneurs -- typically women -- in creative fields to "unlock your authentic purpose and share your story," DeMonte and Amoo-Mensah say.

The 1,600-square-foot space at 33½ W. Jefferson Ave. has room for between 10 and 15 co-workers. It offers flexible space at a different desk each day for $300 a month with a three-month minimum contract or a reserved office for $500 to $800 a month, also with a three-month minimum.

Workers so far have complementary skills as a graphic designer, writer, content strategist, web designer, photographer, public relations professional and brand strategist. Klique's owners say the idea is to continue building the synergy.

Stacy Amoo-Mensah and Heather DeMonte of Naperville are the owners of Klique, a new co-working space and branding boutique in downtown Naperville. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

The people DeMonte and Amoo-Mensah are targeting are exactly like themselves: women who run their own businesses but work from home and struggle with isolation, networking and productivity.

The professional work environment -- with white walls, light wood tables, white or gold chairs and fashionable light fixtures -- helps female entrepreneurs who otherwise would work from home prepare for meetings and pitches, DeMonte says. It's not a way of segregating women from the business world, but of helping them work together and "be even more successful in the workplace," DeMonte said.

While Klique's target market is primarily women, men in creative fields who want a collaborative working environment will be welcome as well. One man, a web designer, is among the co-workers so far.

DeMonte, 45, and Amoo-Mensah, 42, found their new office through work they've been conducting the past year to rebrand downtown Naperville for the Downtown Naperville Alliance. Their efforts have resulted in new banners on streetlights and a defined focus on "historic innovation."

Klique's leaders see their co-working center as one example of a downtown innovation.

"You can feel all the energy of people walking by and it feels like you're part of something bigger," Amoo-Mensah said. "It's a sense of community you're missing without a workspace."

Co-working is slowly catching on in the suburbs, with at least 15 facilities offering some type of shared office space in locations including Arlington Heights, Elgin, Geneva and St. Charles. Worldwide, the co-working movement will involves 1.2 million workers and 14,000 facilities this year, according to the Global Co-working Survey conducted by Deskmag, an online magazine that tracks the co-working industry.

The popularity of the trend is visible in how easily Klique has begun to fill its desks, said Laura Gaskill, principal of Gaskill Creative. She's a public relations professional who has been working on her own or with an intern for the past four years and will be joining the club at Klique to regain the on-the-job learning that comes from overhearing people with similar skills.

"It's an unmet need for so many different people in downtown," Gaskill said. "Everyone is really gravitating toward the concept."