The Makery and Mercury Studio have long collaborated and shared a building on Geer Street, with the Makery selling local makers' wares on one side and Mercury providing a homey coworking space on the other.
Now they're making it official by merging the businesses into one, the Mothership. The founding mothers—the Makery's Krista Anne Nordgren and Mercury's Katie DeConto and Megan Jones—aim to mindfully increase membership, foster more public engagement with the coworking community, and combine their strengths in a volatile development climate.
The business owners had long considered merging, but finally decided to do so when faced with an impending move. When they signed a two-year lease with developer Alex Washburn, who helped them upfit the garage space near Motorco, they knew they would likely have to leave at the end, with plans to redevelop the building already in place.
Now that date is coming, with the lease ending in July and six months rolling notice after that. It will be the second time Mercury Studio has moved after leaving its original North Mangum Street location in 2014, when it came under new ownership.
"Now we're figuring out how we can get in a position to really put roots down and make a home for what we're offering," Jones says. "And the merger is a way for us to establish a stronger foundation and get that set before we move."
DeConto says it was initially hard to think about letting go of their individual brands, but the more they talked about it, the more they realized it made sense for the two to become one.
"Now more than ever it feels really important that we be successful because of the things we stand for," DeConto says. "If we went out of business tomorrow, I could deal with that on a personal level. I'd find another job. But I wouldn't be able to deal with the failure of those values."
Those values, best summarized as "radical acceptance," are stamped out in the Mothership's mission statement, which says in part, "We want to live in a world where anyone with an idea meant to improve the world can find a place where they are welcomed, heard, supported, and cheered, and where both their successes and their failures are met with congratulations. ... We refuse to accept a world where the worth of an idea, a business, or a person is calculated based on scalability and profit potential."
The Mothership's new branding is inspired by retro-futuristic feminism. It features a spotted sphinx woman sitting atop a UFO and a series of "alien mothers"—women from 1950s advertisements crossed with extraterrestrial creatures.
"We really like the aesthetics from the Mad Men era of advertising, and we wanted to reclaim that and use it in a different way because that was an era when women weren't particularly empowered," DeConto says.
- Photo by Alex Boerner
The Makery and Mercury Studio were both founded by women operating from a place of daring vulnerability. At a private brand-reveal party for the Mothership recently, Nordgren looked back on how her inexperience proved an unlikely asset when she founded the Makery in 2012.
"I was so naive then, but part of being naive is you are also really brave, because you don't know what you don't know yet," she says. "Even though it's really embarrassing, I look at it as this very precious time, and that naiveté is something I hope to cultivate and carry forward."
Nordgren was inspired to start a business in college after meeting founders of successful start-ups in California at a holiday party and realizing they weren't above and beyond her.
"I thought they were going to be crazy superheroes, but they were just regular-ass humans," she recalls. "It was inspiring because the only difference between them and me is that they were doing it—and also an engineering degree." When she returned from that trip, she sat down with her sisters and came up with the idea for the Makery.