DURHAM — Before Maggie and Bill Powell welcomed their daughter Greer three and a half years ago, they’d shared a dream: to open their own digital marketing agency.
“We decided to take the leap,” said Maggie Powell, who co-founded Durham-based digital marketing agency The Goodness Factory in 2018. “I don’t think we could have managed to get where were are without Nido.”
Maggie operates their agency from a shared desk at Durham’s Nido: Coworking & Childcare, an innovative nonprofit that provides co-working space and a community of creative female professionals, and half-day Montessori childcare for children.
After delivering Greer, Maggie moved into freelance digital marketing work. But when Greer began to become more mobile, at about 9 months old, Powell said: “It was becoming increasingly difficult for me to get any work done during the day.”
The Powells began looking for a conveniently located part-time daycare. “I had a lot of anxiety about leaving her with anyone,” said Powell. At Nido: Childcare & Coworking, Powell discovered she could work onsite while her daughter was in another part of the building under excellent care. “That alleviated most of my trepidation about leaving her in the care of another person,” said Powell.
From Founding to Nonprofit
Nido began in 2014 as a concept in the co-founders Tiffany Frye and Lis Tyroler. Their vision was to build an intentional community to support a better work-life balance for parents.
Along with a handful of other families, Frye piloted the concept of a coworking and childcare co-op in her living room. The co-op evolved into a newly formed LLC in March 2015. Three months later, Nido: Coworking & Childcare opened to the public at its current location on Broad Street in Durham.
“Nido has been a vital part of not only my professional life, but also my personal life,” said Frye. “It has been the village I’ve needed as a working parent of young children.”
Last year, Frye and Tyroler decided to transition the organization from a for-profit LLC to a nonprofit and navigated the transition by earning status as a 501(c)3 organization. As a part of that transition, Frye, who had acted as Executive Director, determined the organization was ready to bring on an experienced professional that could expand the Nido community.
This month, Nido: Childcare & Coworking welcomed Marie Agosta as executive director.
“It’s no secret that most workplaces were not designed for new mothers or parents,” said Agosta. Nido offers a viable solution, said Agosta, “in a way that is inclusive, thoughtful, and practical.”
Agosta takes the helm after working in partnership with Boston Public Schools as the lead project manager on a pilot project that overhauled the school food system from plastic-wrapped food to two fresh, healthy meals every day. Agosta earned a graduate degree in public policy from the London School of Economics. Agosta’s experience defining and scaling pilot projects, as well as her vision for the future of Nido, were critical factors in her selection to lead Nido, according to a statement released by the organization.
“Nido recognizes its members’ identities as parents, professionals, and unique individuals,” said Agosta. “As a nonprofit, we can focus on the community-at-large, offering workshops that support all women and parents as they start a business, become parents, or just want to expand their networks.”
Childcare & Coworking: A Different Model
“A lot of coworking spaces are about 60–80-hour work weeks and luxury conveniences,” said Agosta. “Showing up with a baby on your arm, needing to exhale about a long, hard day, or having a three-year-old who has decided now is a good time for a dance performance, are not embraced.”
Coworking membership is $200 per month, with 24/7 access to the building and its amenities, like a reservable conference room, printer, and unlimited coffee, but it’s not only about providing a space in which work occurs, said Agosta. “We found that many parents deeply appreciate the support and community that the coworking space offers.”
Nido’s members are just as likely to discuss their baby’s sleeping habits or set up a playdate as they are to ask each other for recommendations for a good accountant who can help them with their startup’s books.
The Montessori program spans six months to six years old, with a price range of $495 per month to $1,060 per month per child, and a coworking membership is required. Coworking members are not required to enroll their child or children in the Montessori program to join and gain access to the community.
“This was always about community, about creating a shared space where new parents, especially women and nonbinary persons, could be who they are,” said Agosta. “Where people felt that their “work lives” and “personal lives” didn’t have to exist in silos.”
That’s part of what appealed to the Powells. They spent quite a bit of time searching for part-time daycare for Greer, and when they found Nido, Maggie was just excited to be able to get some work done and be close to her child.
“It didn’t take long for me to realize that I had joined a community of other parents going through the same things I was,” said Powell. “One of the most difficult things about becoming a mom was feeling isolated.”
Parents know: having a child requires 24/7 care. Balancing the demands of work, whether as a freelancer, a remote employee, or a founder of a business, with the job of parenting without any outside help is incredibly challenging for parents, said Powell.
Powell found childcare at Nido, but she also found community. “We needed daycare, but joining Nido was also for my own mental health,” said Powell. “Nido saved me from what was turning into depression.”
The Center for Disease Control estimates that between one in five and one in nine mothers develop postpartum depression, and many more women experience symptoms of postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. One of the risk factors that place women and men at a higher risk of postpartum depression is low social support or feelings of isolation.
“Many parents deeply appreciate the support and community that the coworking space offers,” said Agosta. “We want more children to have access to quality preschool and more parents to feel as though they are not alone in their parenting journey.”
Parents can join Nido: Childcare & Coworking on the Nido website. For parents interested in the Montessori program, the next school term begins on August 26, 2019, and runs through December 20, 2019. Nido does have a limited number of slots available for the fall term. The first step to joining the community or the Montessori program is scheduling a tour.
Author’s Note: The author’s father is a member of the Nido: Childcare & Coworking board of directors and is the owner of the building on Broad Street where Nido operates.