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Greenhouse puts female entrepreneurs in the spotlight
19 November 2020 | All locations
Today, the 19th of November, we celebrate the International Women Entrepreneur’s Day. And we have quite a few in our hubs! We spoke to entrepreneurs Kris Hens (co-worker in Greenhouse Mechelen), Laura Coninx (co-worker in Greenhouse BXL) and Evy De Vos (co-worker in Greenhouse Antwerp) about their businesses, growth and future plans. Based on their stories we’ll show that success is always an option, as long as the passion is there. Here we go!
Welcome, entrepreneurs. Please, tell us more about your organisation!
Kris Hens: My company, Team at Work, supports cleaning companies in setting up an efficient organisation. We propose a tailor-made plan to our clients, which leads to more efficiency and more transparency in the operation of an organisation.
Laura Coninx: Laum-paum combines architecture with contracting, a well thought-out design with a qualitative execution. We purchase special or unique properties, renovate them while preserving the unique elements and furnish them completely.
Evy De Vos: My company is called Bloq, but as I want to emphasize a personal approach, I communicate under my name Evy De Vos. That approach is visible in everything we do. We help private individuals and companies with tailor made property investments – we handle everything from A to Z. To enable this, we have close cooperation agreements with Antwerp Expats, among others.
How was your idea born?
Kris Hens: Very simple: from pure passion and idealism for the sector. I have been working in the professional cleaning sector for 33 years. I am familiar with the business and I understand what it takes to support people. That is why I left the ‘work for someone’ system in 2005 and decided to send my own vision out into the world. The aim of Team at Work was, and still is, to upgrade the cleaning sector and to give it a fully-fledged place, recognised within an organisation.
Laura Coninx: As an architect into renovation works, it’s not ideal to work with an external contractor. The communication isn’t always smooth, things are often done differently than briefed and you do not always have things under control. That’s why I decided to set up my own contractor company, where I, as an architect, can take full responsibility of the process – from design to execution. By hiring and managing my own craftsmen, nothing is done until I give the green light. By putting the contractor and architect in one company, we can turn my vision into one coherent package, time after time.
Evy De Vos: The idea was born during my studies: for my thesis, I researched the possibilities of buying investment property in order to create an additional income. Due to the great interest of friends and acquaintances, I decided six years ago to make it my full-time job.
I deliberately choose to work only on a self-employed basis, in order to guarantee a personal approach. I do choose to surround myself with the best professionals. The core team consists of Marie Vissers, who is responsible for the furnishing and aesthetics of the premises. Geert Hennissen is the founder of Antwerp Expats – that is the platform we use to guarantee good rental.
How did you end up in the co-working of Greenhouse?
Kris Hens: Well, Intervest has been a customer of ours for a long time. And when we were looking for a new office in 2012, they proposed the – then still new – Greenhouse concept. We were immediately charmed and opted for a chair in the co-working in Mechelen. That made us the first customer – and because we are still here today, we are also the oldest customer! (laughs)Discover Greenhouse Mechelen
Laura Coninx: I was looking online for a co-working space in the Brussels area and ended up at Greenhouse. When I went for a tour, I immediately felt that the vibe was right. Not only is the central location a big plus, but you also have a lot of ‘hidden’ corners for when you need peace and quiet. In addition, the approach is very professional, the meeting rooms are handy, it is always clean and the Hospitality Assistants also do a great job.Visit Greenhouse BXL
Evy De Vos: I came to Greenhouse by worth of mouth. One of my project developers, with whom I work closely, recommended the co-working space in Antwerp. I was looking for a permanent ‘operating base’, without necessarily having to sit there every day – after all, I am more on the road than in an office. Greenhouse Antwerp is very well located, very accessible and also very flexible. You only rent what you need. And that was exactly what we were looking for!Take a look at Greenhouse Antwerp
All three of you fully opted for a co-working package. Why?
Kris Hens: Simple, we try to keep the fixed costs of the company as low as possible. In all these years our rate has hardly changed – and we like to keep it that way. What is more, a private office really is not necessary for a small company like us – and co-working meets our needs perfectly.
Laura Coninx: Yes, that co-working package is perfect for my company. As such, only my project manager and I occasionally work at a desk, after all, my workers are on the site! So a ‘real’ office would not be in line with the hours we would actually spend there in terms of costs, which makes co-working the perfect solution. We have everything we need at our disposal – when we want to use it. So we do not pay for a meeting room or an office that is vacant half the time.
Evy De Vos: The Greenhouse co-working subscription meets my needs exactly. It is affordable, it is flexible and the customer friendliness is great. What is more, it is the perfect solution for receiving any clients: you simply rent a professional meeting room for the time you need – and no more than that.
What are your plans for the future?
Kris Hens: In these past years we have been developing our own software: a supporting tool to manage the cleaning, calculate the workload and do quality control. This also includes a planning module: we want to further develop this in 2021 and make it available to other companies.
Laura Coninx: I am currently considering going back to working on a slightly smaller scale – and taking on fewer customer projects. Do not get me wrong, these are super fun! But you need to compromise when other parties are involved. Every architect prefers to do what he/she has in mind – and I am no exception. (laughs). I would also really like to do some more art deco buildings.
Evy De Vos: During the corona crisis, we learned to be flexible: after all, our expat flats were suddenly and very unexpectedly empty during that period. Reason for panic? Maybe just for a moment. (laughs) But then we immediately started to explore what was needed instead. It turned out that many people were looking for a flat for a short period of time because, for example, they could not concentrate on their work at home. We decided to fully concentrate on that, which we did well!
So in the future we want to develop this further: what needs can be detected during certain periods and how can we respond to them? We have noticed that these challenges have given us a lot of energy – and many opportunities. So we are going to continue working on this trend!
Also looking for a place to grow your business?
Do not hesitate to contact us: we will answer your questions with great enthusiasm, so that your business will soon be able to grow in one of our hubs. See you soon?