The Coven: Magic, Power & Inclusivity
Located in Minneapolis’ North Loop, The Coven overlooks North 1st Street. The building’s exterior is simple, blending in with the surrounding apartments, parking structures, and restaurants. It gives the appearance of being another typical business, and therefore succeeds in concealing the magic within.
Inside, The Coven is vibrant and comfortable. Decorated with images of strong women, local art, and a wall adorned with their tagline: “Do The Most Good,” The Coven fosters an atmosphere of acceptance and creativity. Here in the North Loop, The Coven is meeting the rising need for women and nonbinary people to have space to cowork, connect, and collaborate.
Alex West Steinman, a University of Minnesota alumna, is one of the cofounders of The Coven. Born in Germany and raised in Maple Grove, Steinman was drawn to the University of Minnesota because of its connection to the broader Twin Cities community. She sought a University that provided professional development opportunities and introduced her to job opportunities. “I was interested in the best way to get the most out of my experience at the University,” Steinman says.
Throughout her undergraduate years, Steinman participated in multiple internships while also doing volunteer work. Her work in and out of the classroom helped her make a big university feel small, which is something she has carried into her professional life. “The University is so big, so you have to make it smaller for yourself which means finding a community within a community,” says Steinman. “That’s what I’m doing at The Coven: creating space for community to be uncovered.”
A firm believer in utilizing every resource offered, Steinman frequented the CLA Career Services Office, the University Honors Program, the Writing Center, and more. “I loved the College of Liberal Arts because of all the resources they had,” Steinman says.
Steinman started as a theatre arts major with a desire to become a theater producer. She later switched to strategic communication with a minor in Spanish studies. “I had this passion for writing and storytelling with an impact,” says Steinman.
While a background in strategic communication opened the door to a career in storytelling for Steinman, a minor in Spanish studies offered unique career opportunities that she may not have had otherwise. Her first job after college was working on the Latin America Purina account at Fallon, a position that benefitted from her Spanish background. “That experience of studying abroad and being immersed in another language and culture was so fascinating… It prepared me to think differently.”
Steinman met the three other founders of The Coven during her work in advertising. All four of them were working on diversity and inclusion initiatives to bring women and people of color into the industry and into leadership positions. “I was really interested in making sure that people weren’t just getting in the door but that they felt included when they were there,” Steinman says.
Their previous work in diversity and inclusion initiatives helped lay the groundwork for The Coven. As a membership-based organization, their community-funded membership allows for the space to be socio-economically diverse. For every five members, The Coven offers one scholarship. The community-funded membership creates a space that is welcoming to LGBTQ individuals, single parents, and others who have been marginalized.
The Coven also offers members access to weekly events and programming centered around personal and professional development, covering topics ranging from sexual health to negotiating salary.
On July 16, one of The Coven’s community-funded members hosted an event called Art in Many Forms. The member is a designer and art director who curated a panel of artists of color to talk about their experiences as an artist in the community. “It empowers our members and people from the community seeing folks like them on stage talking about their journeys,” Steinman says.
Unlike most coworking spaces, a majority of The Coven’s members are not entrepreneurs. Members are drawn to the space to meet other people who can help them navigate their personal and professional lives as well as to find like-minded individuals.
The Coven recently released the address of their new St. Paul, Minnesota location, which will open at the end of this year. Their expansion plan extends beyond the Twin Cities, says Steinman. The Coven founders are looking at what Steinman calls the underdog cities, or cities that most femme-forward communities aren’t going to. This includes areas like Minneapolis; St. Paul; Nashville, Tennessee; Denver, Colorado; and Kansas City, Missouri.
The Coven has grown dramatically since its fruition. When The Coven opened, they had 150 members. They have since organically grown to over 500 and successfully raised $350,000 for their expansion into St. Paul. The Coven’s prosperity illuminates the need for a space where women, nonbinary, and trans people can work, grow, and transform.
The Coven’s mission is rooted in supporting these individuals in a way that they have not been before. “We want to create the world that women, nonbinary, and trans folks deserve to live in, work in, and play in,” Steinman says.
This story was written by an undergraduate student in CLAgency. Meet the team.