Announcing: Seen!

At our 2022 State of the Chamber dinner, held on June 22, 2022, we shared the exciting news that we are launching a capital campaign to fund Seen: An LGBT+ Coworking Community!

A project of Harmony, Seen will be the first facility of its kind in the nation to provide an LGBT-centric workspace with a retail and entrepreneurial incubator. (A couple of other LGBT-focused coworking spaces exist in the US, but none that combine the business-building aspects Seen will feature.) It is designed to be an embracive space in which LGBT+ individuals and businesses can thrive.

With a focus on long-term sustainability, we have a multi-step plan we are following in order to make Seen a reality. Our initial round of seed funding aims to raise $350,000 to cover initial costs pertaining to leased space, technology & systems, consulting by community space experts, staff costs, and upfitting-related expenses. Initially, Seen will operate as a space within Raleigh Founded. Later fundraising rounds will help secure a stand-alone location that is exclusively Seen.

More information regarding Seen is below, but please email seen@harmonync.org with any questions. Looking to get involved? We’d love to have your support! Be sure to visit our online pledge form.

About Seen

Seen tackles head-on the negative impact experienced all too often by working LGBT+ professionals by providing a private, secure, and affirming coworking space that embraces each person’s identity and enables them to thrive without fear of discrimination, hostility, name-calling, bullying, or even physical or sexual assault.

It’s a place where LGBT+ individuals can network, collaborate, and expand their skills alongside others who support them.
For entrepreneurs, Seen not only provides a safe working and development environment, it helps reduce obstacles faced by small business owners who can’t afford or qualify for traditional commercial leases, and gives a physical address required for vendor and supplier paperwork.

Seen provides a safe, affirming space to do business and meet with clients, plus it gives LGBT+ retailers and nontraditional professionals spaces in which to establish, operate, and grow their business while also gaining experience and exposure vital to their long-term success.

Seen will offer the usual amenities found in coworking spaces such as Raleigh Founded and WeWork, but takes it several steps further to help professionals and business owners get ahead and—ultimately—Seen. This unique coworking space will:

  • Provide ongoing entrepreneurial workforce development, education, resources, and support to foster upward mobility, create more jobs, and attract and retain a talented workforce.
  • Build, strengthen, and leverage community partnerships with other organizations and businesses to support initiatives that benefit small entrepreneurs and professionals.
  • Offer small retail space testing grounds for short-term lease to LGBT+ entrepreneurs to test and refine their branding and business models prior to opening a retail store, minimize their initial upfront capital output, gain exposure, and establish a client base.
  • Provide local LGBT+ artists with a space to display and sell their artwork, using the wall space at Seen, along with studio space in which to create.
  • Utilize and purchase, whenever possible, supplies and equipment from LGBT+ owned businesses.
  • Provide training and workshops, including resume writing and interviewing courses for those looking to enter, change, or advance their careers.
  • Help LGBT+ entrepreneurs obtain their LGBTBE (business enterprise) certification. This important certification (provided by the National Gay Lesbian Chamber of Commerce) will make our clients more competitive in the marketplace by enabling them to secure municipal, state, federal, and corporate contracts through their supplier diversity programs.
  • Act as the headquarters for Harmony, PrideLife Expo, and other LGBT+ organizations who wish to centralize their community support. First option for leasing offices and office suites will be given to other area LGBT+ organizations.

While the space targets the LGBT+ population, non-LGBT allies are also welcome to take advantage of the many amenities we will offer in this embracive, supportive space!

Seen will have a tremendous, ongoing impact on the community by:

  • Offering a safe, affirming workspace and community for LGBT+ individuals where they can work free from emotional and physical intimidation. This is particularly beneficial to LGBT+ people of color and transgender individuals.
  • Building, strengthening, and leveraging community partnerships with other organizations and businesses to support initiatives benefitting entrepreneurs and professionals.
  • Leading to increased revenue for small business tenants and users as they engage with the space and community.
  • Acting as a hub for LGBT+ businesses to access professional development, courses, and resourced provided by our partners to grow their businesses.
  • Acting as a centralized resource for access to LGBT+ businesses and professionals, which doesn’t exist today.
  • Heightening awareness of local products and services by LGBT+ companies and makers.
  • Educating the public about the value and benefits of hiring and working with LGBT+ businesses and professionals.

The SEEN coworking community will provide shared and private office spaces, along with short-term lease retail spaces, with a range of lease options.

Among the planned amenities offered will be:

  • Event space for training, education, and social events that would accommodate up to 300 people
  • Two small retail space testing grounds to help emerging businesses show proof of concept
  • Artist studio space
  • High speed internet access
  • Meeting and conference spaces
  • Audio and video-optimized rooms for podcasts and virtual meetings
  • Private phone booths
  • A coffee bar with seating that can be used by the general public
  • An online job board for LGBT-friendly employers
  • A dedicated display space highlighting members’ services and products