If Her Name Was Charley—better known as Charley Co.—has anything to do with it, the age of dull Office Space–esque workplaces (greige, sterile, and filled with cubicles) is nearing an end. The women-only coworking space kick-started by Denver entrepreneur Bryn Carter is the exact opposite of meh, with saturated colors and sculptural shapes at every turn. Opened in July in the Source, Charley Co. looks like something director Wes Anderson might dream up—if he were a she (note the on-site salon and mother’s room).
In fact, the design of the 5,200-square-foot, two-story interior was devised by the lady-led team at Davis Partnership Architects, and Abigail Plonkey, chief experience curator at local creative agency Maximalist. “I was drawn to the fact that Bryn didn’t want it to be this really frilly, feminine space, but more of a feminist space,” Plonkey says. “It’s much more about empowerment and edge.” With that in mind, the designers sourced finishes and artwork that would inspire female entrepreneurs in particular, and took care to commission local female artists—including Lindee Zimmer, Ashley Joon, and Kirileigh Jones—to create showstopping murals on interior walls.
“It’s a concept I’ve been thinking about for almost two years now,” says Carter, who was a real-estate agent and freelance writer and marketer before launching Charley Co. “I turned 30 and was doing all these other jobs, and woke up one day and realized my soul just wasn’t that happy.” She sat down and whipped up a list of everything that was important to her, and suddenly it clicked: “I love relationships and bringing people together, and I want to support women in any way that I can.”
She started by doing what many people do when a design project is percolating: She sought inspiration.
“I was on Pinterest every day thinking of things and pulling ideas when I signed my lease and started looking for people to help with design and architecture,” she says. That effort is evident in the thoughtful details now sprinkled throughout Charley Co.’s conference rooms, library, communal kitchen, on-site salon, and even the restrooms, one of which pays tribute to female rap and hip-hop artists by displaying lyrics to songs including Missy Elliott’s “Work It” and Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” on the walls. “We call it our ‘Pump Up’ bathroom,” Carter says. Another restroom is wallpapered with Plonkey’s own pencil drawings of breasts in every shape and size. Carter notes that, again and again, female visitors notice the level of detail within Charley Co.’s design, right down to the ombre pink glass in the staircase wall: “As women, we notice everything.”
Charley Co. is joining a group of female-focused coworking spaces that have opened across the country in recent years, among them AllBright, spa-inspired Hera Hub, and the Wing, which has raised approximately $118 million in financing since it launched. For Charley Co., Carter chose the motto “Come as you are,” which is really more of a mantra. “It’s really important that the space feels tailored to all women,” she says.