Social Enterprise, the Athenian Way

October 17th, 2012


By Merope Ginn

Fours year ago, I asked Konstantina Zoehrer, “Do you know about these collaborative hang out sessions where a bunch of creative nerds get together in a space and literally, just ‘work’ together? Well, they are called Jellies in the States! You need to start one in Athens please. Thanks and nice to meet you, Konstantina”.

“Ti? Jelly?” she responded — looking at me with immense confusion, but interested to hear more.

Coworking in its pure form defines a style of working which involves a shared space, but not a shared employer. If you are the loner type, or your job calls for you to work from home or on the road, this is an alternative solution to be around other like-minded individuals and have the flexibility to poke them on the shoulder for advice, testing things out, feedback or simply a chat or even grabbing coffee together to mimic the formal office work environment. If you are not the loner type, then you’re most definitely the kind that seek that kind of synergy. It’s guaranteed that coworking spaces not only provide the social aspect you need in your daily working life but it also save you from boredom and numerous distractions in your home (like, wanting to clean your bathroom with a toothbrush).

Loft2Work is located in a trendy loft in the Kerameikos area of Athens. Stop by and say hello, take the day to work from there, introduce yourself to others or even prompt a brainstorming session! Their space offers you the flexibility to have business meetings, host seminars, watch a screening and so much more. I can assure you, you will be motivated to interact and collaborate the moment you set foot through their door. Here’s what Konstantina, Business Development & Communications guru at Loft2Work, had to say about it.

Merope Ginn for the Goddess of the Hunt: Who are the brainchildren behind Loft2Work?

Konstantina Zoehrer: Three different paths unite under the umbrella of Loft2work. Sophia met the concept of coworking spaces during one of her trips to Berlin. She got inspired by the alternative collaborative and envisioned a space that would enhance sharing experiences and creativity. Andreas, a cook by education, was always sensitive to the human factor in relations and an tendency for artistic nature. I sit somewhere between social technologies and social projects, inspired by entrepreneurial culture. We wanted to create a space where interaction and collaboration are a way of living.

GOTH: How long has Loft2work been around?

KZ: Loft2work was born in Spring 2011. So, we are quite young.

GOTH: How did you get involved with Loft2Work, and what is your role?

KZ: I was looking for opportunities to share new spaces with the community. At the beginning, it started with discussions, then we implemented some of our common brainstorms and last summer and I came on board officially. Now I am part of the founding team, responsible for building the networks of commercial and community relations. We developed our concept and mission as a social enterprise, which means that we are not only a coworking space, but we work also on social projects with community or commercial partners.

GOTH: One of your mottos is: “It’s not the Loft, it’s the people”. What kind of people will we find at the Loft on a typical work day?

KZ: The beauty of our community is its variety. Students, designers, creative groups, aspiring entrepreneurs from various backgrounds, professionals from the creative and cultural industriesas the social and technology space, not- for-profit organizations, large corporations with a love for alternative environments.

GOTH: ‘Entrepreneur’ is a French word, and arguably not a common Greek ideal. Is that changing?

KZ: The word “Entrepreneur” describes a part of Greek culture and it seems that during the last few years, and more intensely visible in the last two, we remember it again and we aspire to embeded it not only in the traditional business world, but as a mindset in our society. It will take some time but there is something changing. Slowly, but it is changing.

GOTH: What are some interesting projects, businesses, ideas that have come out of Loft2Work?

KZ: We prefer to talk about projects that you can meet at Loft2work or are part of our community, whether they are meant to develop into a business or not. Currently we are completing our social research on the area of Kerameikos where we are based and will develop social projects for the area within its community context. Two other spaces, Thessaloniki and Crete, are under the development and going to launch in the next months.

Some of the projects that you can meet here: Hackademy, an educational program for journalists from journalists; Startup Live Athens; Women on Top; Mono Magazine; Green Project; Meet Your Future; Athens Biennale. Ideas often come out of our workshops, such as “Design Thinking” and “Think Social. Act Business.”

GOTH: We spotted a DJ booth in a corner of the loft. Are impromptu dance parties common?

KZ: Our “job” is to create a comfortable collaborative environment. Music is part of our everyday lives and makes us relax. We organize some gatherings and parties but not ad hoc. But Andreas takes care of the music arpet and makes sure we always have the best atmosphere. As he is also a DJng and hostsng a radio show in his free time, it is something we leave to him.

GOTH: What’s written on the Loft2work community blackboard right now?

KZ: It is fun to attempt the impossible; May you live in interesting times; It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.

GOTH: Tell us about some upcoming workshops at Loft2work.

KZ: The series of “Think Social. Act Business” will run on a regular basis, implementing the concept of social entrepreneurship and social innovation. We host design thinking workshops on the constant basis, and we are working on a workshop series with various creative groups.

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