Women welcome at the North Loop’s The Coven

The North Loop location is a gathering spot for women to work, study or take a ‘pause.’

The Coven is filled with working women on Tuesday, March 27 in the North Loop. The space encourages women and non-binary individuals to find community while accomplishing personal and professional work in the space.

Ellen Schmidt

The Coven is filled with working women on Tuesday, March 27 in the North Loop. The space encourages women and non-binary individuals to find community while accomplishing personal and professional work in the space.

by Sophie Vilensky

The Coven, a co-working space for women and non-binary individuals in the North Loop, officially opened March 8 (that’s International Women’s Day, mind you).

Membership based, the space welcomes individuals from a variety of backgrounds and professions. While some have their current titles set (sexual ecologist, raised bed gardener), many The Coven members are living at a crossroads — in-between careers or about to graduate school.

You see, a set job title is not mandatory at The Coven.

The desire to do good is.

It’s a bummer to crumble expectations, but there was no thunder, lightning or rain as members gathered at The Coven on Tuesday afternoon.

Instead, they basked in the warm glow of the space’s many windows, going about their days amidst moments and periods of “transformational change.” At its core, The Coven works as a launch pad for transitions between business and pleasure, motherhood and me-time or one job and another.

This is helpful for young members, still getting used to living life in constant transition.

“I hate to think that there’s one pivotal moment in life — even Oprah’s been in transition over and over again,” co-founder Alex West Steinman said. “Thinking about a student who’s always in transition — new classes, new insights … there are a lot of people here who are also in — and realize they’re in — transition. There’s the opportunity to help shepherd that here — through connection, opportunity, empowerment or just by providing headspace.”

“It’s so uncomfortable. You just want someone to make it stop or you want to get to the next spot,” co-founder Bethany Iverson said.

But The Coven honors this time just as much as it honors its members’ other big accomplishments.

Dedicated to intersectionality and providing just opportunity for women and non-binary folk to experience its magic, The Coven runs on a five-to-one membership basis. For every five paid memberships, one person is offered a scholarship. When it comes to these scholarships, The Coven highly encourages women and non-binary individuals of color, members of the LGBTQ community and those who are differently abled to apply.

Margo Winter, a graduate student in the biology department at the University of Minnesota, applied for one of these scholarships last fall. Her acceptance was the last email she got in 2017.

Winter remembers the first time she walked through The Coven’s doors. She was early and found the place quiet, relaxing and “oh so welcoming.”

Winter uses the space a couple times a week for schoolwork, meetings and other projects. Having heard of The Coven from a friend, she tries to meet at least one new member a week.

“There are so many women I can learn from that I wouldn’t have met if I’d stayed in the bio-med library,” she said.

Sitting in The Coven’s conference room, the buzz of soon-to-be-tapped potential is overwhelming. Outside the room’s glass walls, women of all ages (21 plus) tap on their laptops, chat and rest quietly with notebooks, planning the next big anything and everything.

Infants like the “tiniest witch” Willow accompany their member moms in the space, collecting first memories of womanly dynamism.

On one floor, a cozy “pump and prayer” room is set up for meditation and breastfeeding mothers. A private shower and “beauty bar” is also present, the bathroom stocked with pads and tampons and the counter covered in products for all skin and hair types.

Front desk attendants know the names of those who come through, pieces by local female and non-binary artists cover the walls and assurance is abound throughout.

“We wanted to replicate the magic that happens when women are together in a space,” Iverson said.

The Coven member Alex Boutrous is a senior psychology major at the University. An avid presence on the Minneapolis political scene, Boutrous knew West Steinman from previous campaign work when she decided to join.

Boutrous describes The Coven as celebratory and collaborative — a space you can “show up however you are.”

She calls attention to a full-scale mural that covers one of the space’s walls. A collage of women surrounds The Coven’s logo: black women, indigenous women, women all sorts of strong.

“One of the things I like the most [about The Coven] is that there’s the commitment to intersectionality, but also the lifting up of other women without it feeling contrived,” Boutrous said.

So as not to offend or appropriate, the Coven’s founders talked the space’s name over with some witches prior to opening. The witches were pleased with The Coven’s mission, mentioning how a main point of Wicca is to always “do the most good.”

And that “most good”? That’s exactly what The Coven’s founders and members are doing. One spell — one email — at a time.