Photos by Jana Musselwhite
We recently sat down with Mary Austin Hall and Alex Wolf of Orchard House, Birmingham’s newest—and perhaps most inspiring but definitely most beautiful—workspace, to chat with them about what they do, why they do it, and why you should check it out now.
Q: What is Orchard House?
A: Orchard House is a women-focused co-working space and event venue in Birmingham. We offer communal workspace and private offices.
Q: When and why did you start Orchard House?
A: Our original concept was simply to meet a need for ourselves! After sharing the vision with a few friends, we realized a lot of women in town were tired of working from their couches or nomadically roaming between coffee shops. While co-working spaces are not a novelty in Birmingham, there is a conspicuous gap for a women-focused flexible office space. We opened a "beta version" in a subleased space in 2020, then built out a beautiful, dedicated location in Birmingham's Forest Park neighborhood that opened in August of 2021.
Q: How does Orchard House work?
A: Members can choose between general co-working or private offices. General co-working feels like working from a coffee shop, but you can don't have to carry the shame of buying a single cup of black coffee and parking yourself for eight hours! We offer beautiful little vignettes to work in, free coffee and sparkling water, phone booths for video calls, and 24/7 unlimited access! Private office members have their own lockable 100-square foot studios that they can decorate and furnish to feel right at home.
Q: What is your niche/What kind of members do you have?
A: Our members are women working in a huge range of industries—accountants, photographers, brand designers, customer service reps, painters, marketers, writers, educators. Because so many jobs have transitioned to some form of remote work, Orchard House is able to serve anyone in need of a space to focus during the workday so they can create healthy boundaries at home.
Q: What makes your offices so special?
A: We may be biased, but we think our space is beautiful! We are highly affected by our environment, so we wanted to create a place that was appealing to the senses. Many co-working spaces look like a corporate office facsimile, but we wanted Orchard House to feel like a comfortable, lovely home. Our communal areas have tall ceilings, natural sunlight, chic furniture, fun wallpaper, and warm accents like plants, rugs, pillows, and lamps. No hard edges here!
Q: Why is it a good idea to use an office space like Orchard House?
A: At this point in the pandemic, most of us are well-acquainted with the pain points of working from home. The lines between the workday and personal life blur until there is no distinction. We think of a co-working space as an investment in our mental health. There's something universally appealing about the transition of a (short) commute and the ceremony of arriving home after a productive day of work. We want to give women an accessible way to avoid both isolation and overwhelm in the age of remote work by providing an affordable alternative to working from home.
Q: Do you offer anything besides office space?
A: Yes! Orchard House is available for and can be booked by the hour and is a simple, self-serve venue option for small and mid-size gatherings of any kind! Baby showers, workshops, book clubs, gallery showings, engagement parties, or a spot for brides to get ready—we've hosted a little bit of everything!
To learn more, visit orchardhousebham.com.