Imagine a space that encourages and values collaboration over competition, and inclusion over exclusion. This is the space that Julia Westfall oversees as the first franchisee of Hera Hub.
Julia Westfall is the CEO of Hera Hub D.C., the first national co-working space focused on women.
Before becoming the owner of Hera Hub D.C., Julia had a diverse and impressive career, working in human resources, finance, marketing and sales management, as well as co-founding a D.C. public charter school.
However, Julia’s experience with women’s empowerment began at an early age, witnessing the equitable relationship her parents shared.
Julia is originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia, where she grew up going to the beach with her school teacher mother. As a student, Julia was involved in a variety of clubs, including the German club and student government. Julia enjoyed meeting new people and bonding over common interests, something she gets to do as part of her role at Hera Hub.
The Hera Hub CEO’s first steps in female entrepreneurship began at a young age. Her hobbies included anything that required self-sufficiency – she started antiquing and scrapbooking businesses during her childhood. She was not intimidated by being the first to try something or by the fact that there was not a clear plan prepared. If anything, this motivated her further.
Julia credits her mother for providing support and raising her to be independent. Her parents had a supportive relationship where they shared household work. They would not think of such work as “women’s work” but rather “family’s work”. This was especially influential as it occurred during a time in which gender roles were incredibly rigid.
It was Julia’s mother who really helped her believe that she could do anything she put her mind to, including attending college in 1972. Julia went on to study German at Virginia Tech.
Having a personal role model and mentor is important for empowerment, Julia believes.
Celebrity figures, though inspirational, are not accessible. Julia recommends that young women find role models with their communities and families, as they can provide realistic inspiration.
Emphasizing collaboration is also really important in Julia’s view. “One plus one equals twenty with collaboration.” The more you give, the more you can get back in turn. Life approach everything with a sense of collaboration.
A passion for collaboration led Julia to Hera Hub. After reading an article online about the founder of Hera Hub San Diego, Julia realized that Hera Hub would be perfect for Washington, D.C.
Working from home can be lonely and isolating. It also makes it difficult to find a professional place to meet with your clients. Co-working spaces are ideal for creating an environment that is professional and collaborative. Yet, most co-working spaces don’t offer the atmosphere that Hera Hub provides for its members. Hera Hub has a spa-like environment to promote productivity and focus.
Since May 6, 2015, Hera Hub D.C. has been a space where women feel included and can build each other up through networking, collaboration, and business education, making connections with other women in business, all while having access to meeting and office spaces.
Women’s empowerment is at the center of Julia’s work at Hera Hub and beyond. Her advice for those seeking to be mentors and role models, is to “put yourself out there and share what you’ve learned. You will be surprised what you get back.”
Contributor: Clare Connaughton