Where coworking meets culture: Seat Detroit aims to build community for entrepreneurs

As a longtime entrepreneur who worked from home for the past several years, Que Roland got to the point where she needed an outside space to run her property preservation business.

The Rosedale Park resident and mother started looking and then it hit her that she should offer the space that she was looking for, and "create a space for others to work,” Roland says.

The result is a second-floor light-filled space on Division Street in Eastern Market, in the same building that houses Fauna Holistic, Signal-Return, and Firm Real Estate, which owns the building. Open since early January, Seat Detroit boasts several wooden tables in an airy, common space, with desks along the exposed brick wall and windows that offer a view of the historic market. Seat Detroit also has typical coworking features such as a conference room, a kitchen area, and private offices.

Her main focus is entrepreneurs who need affordable space. “Sometimes you don't feel official until you have a place to work. I want to be able to provide that at an affordable cost. … I've been there.” She looked at a space when she was just starting her property preservation work and she didn’t have a lot of money coming in. “But I wanted to work in an office that I could afford.”

After her initial space in West Village fell through, she decided to open in Eastern Market because it fit the bill for the ideal location for her coworking/cultural space. Downtown was not an option because there are already several similar spaces and a lack of parking.

“I went downtown last week and I'm driving around circling, circling and finally I just had to pay all this money for a structure,” she says, “so that was the biggest thing for me. If you're an entrepreneur, you want to be in your own space but you don't want it to cost a lot of money, If you're a small business or startup, you don't have a lot of money and parking can become a great cost on top of your monthly membership fees.”

Plus, “Eastern Market is popping,” she says, noting the proximity to the market, businesses, art, and culture.

In recent years, several coworking spaces have opened up in the city of Detroit so there’s no shortage of options. There’s already spaces catered to designers and builders, artists, and writers, but Roland says what she’s offering are more than a desk and free coffee – she aims to build a culture and foster a community where people have a “seat” at the table.

“We're just trying to create a culture. It's not just about working. I want to create a culture of work plus fun," she says.

A part of that is building a diverse membership. So far about six members are signed up representing different businesses and creatives including a videographer, Realtor, a CPR teacher, app developer, and more.

“That's another thing that's the core of Seat Detroit, being able to create a community of people, where as an entrepreneur or business owner you are able to get anything you need right here in house, you don't have to look outside for anything.” She has a community manager, Amber Huyge, who works to match up people with various business needs, for example, videography services.

Long term she’s already looking at expanding. She’s already eyeing space in the same building and even beyond the city limits with possible sites in Atlanta and Texas. But no matter where she lands, the name will always be Seat Detroit, she says.

Monthly rates range from $15 for a drop-in to $125 for the Social Seat membership (free entry to events and conference room access for a year) to $285 for assigned desks with a six-month membership. For the rest of January, Seat Detroit is offering 25% off the first month of membership. For more information, go to seatdetroit.com.

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Read more articles by Dorothy Hernandez.

Dorothy Hernandez is a freelance writer and editor who frequently writes about food at the intersection of culture and business. She has contributed to NPR, Midwest Living magazine, Eater, and a variety of other publications. Visit her website and follow her on Twitter @dorothy_lynn_h.