By Bonny Osterhage
Walking in the front door of the Babes Support Babes Co-Space is like walking through the door of a warm, welcoming sorority house where there is no initiation, and everyone is invited to join. Here, you’ll find women of all ages sitting around tables working at their laptops, curled up on cozy couches sipping coffee, or even holding a client meeting in the upstairs conference space. The vibe is pretty but professional and conducive to community and conversation. And that’s just what founder Christine Brinkman intended when she opened the co-space in January of 2022 as an extension of her growing Babes Support Babes network.
“I first envisioned it as just a permanent meet-up space for our events, but I soon realized that women who work remotely had a need for it too,” says Brinkman. “Many of them needed to get out of the house because they felt alone and isolated.”
Those are feelings that Brinkman knows well. A full-time elementary school teacher, she quit her job when she became pregnant with her third child. After giving birth, post-partum depression set in, and the usually bubbly Brinkman found herself dealing with intense feelings of loneliness.
“It was a big shift going from being surrounded by my beautiful group of teacher friends to being alone with three little ones all day long,” she admits. “It was a painfully lonely time, and I was in desperate need of community.”
From Markets to Meet Ups
Brinkman took up sewing, eventually launching a small online shop called Kien Bee Boutique, where she sold mostly handmade baby items. Through social media, she began connecting with other local makers, and an idea started to form.
“I wrote in my journal that I wanted to have a market where women aren’t competing, but cheering each other on when we get a sale,” she recalls. “I took a chance and started reaching out to these women online, asking them if they wanted to join me.”
The first Babes Support Babes market was held in 2018 at a small neighborhood pavilion with only 12 vendors. The second market, held at the Brick at Blue Star, housed 40 vendors and drew more than 300 attendees. That’s when Brinkman knew she was onto something.
“The women who participated and attended the markets kept asking me for more,” she says. “We started having meetups around town in addition to the markets, and our community kept growing. Then 2020 happened.”
Like all groups, Babes Support Babes had to get creative in order to continue to support one another. Undeterred, the women held their meet-ups via Zoom. They replaced their in-person market with an online gift guide. Despite the setbacks, they continued to grow, and when restrictions were lifted, one thing was clear: the Babes had outgrown parks and coffee shops. They needed a home base.
Brinkman realized that Covid had not only impacted the way women socialized, but it had also impacted the way they worked. Many of the Babes were now officing from home and needed a quiet space, away from spouses and children, where they could focus or conduct meetings uninterrupted. The co-space offers all of that and more. Nestled in a 1.5-story home on San Pedro on the access road of US 281, it provides women from stay-at-home moms to corporate CEOs and “momtrepreneurs” with a place to work, gather and enjoy each other’s company.
With a tiered membership program that currently boasts more than 100 women, it is clear that Brinkman has tapped into a niche with Babes Support Babes. Whether they are having lunch at the Pearl, attending educational workshops, or putting together one of their signature markets, these women are learning how to be each other’s “hype girls” and nurture meaningful friendships.
“It can be hard to make friends as adult women, and we cultivate that,” she says, adding that there are guidelines and codes of conduct to ensure that every woman is treated with respect. “You will always find someone to bond and connect with here.”
Brinkman says she hopes the organization will serve as an “incubator” for women to grow and thrive so that no woman has to feel alone as she once did.
“It started as a way for me to gather some supportive women in my own life, but it has grown into a full-blown community of women cheering for each other,” she describes. “Seeing the connections and collaborations these women forge with each other is my greatest reward.”