KENNETT SQUARE—“Love what you do” is the simple yet profound idea behind Work2gether. This concept is actually the opposite of the popular slogan “Do what you love,” say Nick and Melinda Winkler. “It’s about choosing to be happy in what you do,” Melinda says, “even though there are always aspects of what we do that aren’t fun.” The husband and wife team have brought a unique combination of enthusiasm, experience, and entrepreneurialism to renovating the iconic building at 120 East State Street and reimagining it as a coworking space. The result is so fresh and inviting it would be hard not to love what you do there.
An Original Idea—Rediscovered
The concept for Work2gether came together by accident. The Winklers run a media and marketing firm, DOES. “With three kids and a dog it was difficult to work from home, and I was tired of working at Wegmans,” Nick says. A friend who’s a printer had space in a warehouse, so Nick set up a desk there. “One day I turned around to ask him if he knew of a designer, and he connected me with someone—and the benefits of working in a space with others just hit me,” he says.
The Winklers hadn’t heard of coworking, but they dove into exploring the idea. They toured the Philadelphia region and also traveled to places like France and India to glean ideas. Then they took the best of all they’d learned back to their Downingtown context. “Coworking spaces have been around in big cities for ten or twelve years,” Nick says, “but we wondered if coworking would work in the suburbs.” They opened their first boutique coworking space, Work2gether Downingtown, two years ago—and the story of his friend the printer came full circle. “He was our first member. He scaled from a warehouse to 200 square feet and his business has been growing ever since.”
Coworking appeals to all kinds of people, including the self-employed and those who work from home. “The home office can be lonely,” Nick says. “One of the greatest advantages of coworking spaces is intangible—it’s the connections people make, the creative collaboration that happens naturally, and the community that builds organically. It’s exciting to watch it happen. That’s part of the reason we have a central bar area on the first floor. The social aspect is a key part of the coworking experience.” In their Downingtown location, Nick and Melinda have been delighted to see members not only network and collaborate but also enjoy camaraderie and build friendships. “People are there for each other, to commiserate on hard days and also to toast successes together. It’s the best of having co-workers without the bad parts,” Nick says with a smile.
A New Chapter for an Iconic Building
Because they love Kennett Square and believe in the Main Street model, a walkable community with restaurants and shopping, the Winklers knew from the beginning that they wanted to bring the Work2gether concept here. Two years ago, they identified 120 East State Street as the ideal location. The details didn’t work out, however, so they continued to look at other properties in town. None of them felt right. In the meantime, dozens of restaurants considered 120 East State—and Kennett Square residents and visitors alike continued to speculate and hope the distinctive building would become home to something special. Nick and Melinda came back to look at the space again last summer and were delighted to be able to arrange a lease for the first three floors. After a quick trip to NOLA for inspiration (of course!), they’ve been hard at work ever since, bringing the building back to life.
If the walls of 120 East State Street could talk, they’d have fascinating tales to tell. Built in the 1860s, it was sold in 1871 to Ezra Durand, a “music man” who built and sold dulcimers. As it turns out, Durand was also a confidence man—and he absconded to Mexico with bank notes to the tune of $10,000. George Fitzsimmons sold stoves and tin-ware in the building until 1883, when Robert T. Walker opened the Walker Cigar Emporium. In more recent times, it was the home of the Kennett Café. To honor this history, the Winklers have retained and reused as many original features as possible. The front door of the Kennett Café, for example, has been preserved behind the bar area, and they searched far and wide to find boards to match missing sections in the 150-year-old floorboards on the second floor.
Nick and Melinda take their responsibility to maintain this iconic building as seriously as their commitment to create a beautiful modern workspace with the kind of synergy and flexibility that will make it a great place to work and connect. Every detail in the revitalized space is thoughtfully designed, from exposed brick and custom live-edge conference room tables to elegant light fixtures, sit-stand desks, and smart office technology. “I hate corporate,” says Nick, who has a background in government as well as in public relations and marketing. “So what we’ve designed is the antithesis of corporate.”
Certain elements of the design are quintessentially Work2gether, like the red refrigerator, coffee pot, and “Love what you do” slogan, but each location is unique. Every coworking space has its own ambiance, Nick says, and the Kennett Square Work2gether will reflect the personality of the members inhabiting it. Someone from Thorndale has already rented a private office here. “Thorndale is closer to Downingtown, but this new member says Kennett Square is more their vibe,” Nick says. Work2gether will bring an eclectic group of people to Kennett Square, and the Winklers are excited to see the positive impact it will have on the community. “It’s great for all businesses,” Melinda says. “In Downingtown, Work2gether is a hub of businesses where people connect.” They expect this effect to be magnified in the active and creative community of Kennett Square.
A Beautiful, Flexible Space—Just for You
A variety of flexible membership options at Work2gether cater to the varying needs of today’s mobile workforce, from half-day passes to dedicated desks and private offices. In addition to coffee, beer, wine, and snacks, amenities available to all include custom desks that are sit-stand height and conference room time, as well as a private “phone booth” cubby for private calls and access to the upstairs porch, which has offered one of the best views of State Street, and a NOLA vibe, for well over a century. Members also have the flexibility to work in either the Kennett Square or Downingtown locations. Private offices on the second floor come furnished with automated sit-stand desks with dry-erase tops and built-in Alexa. Members with dedicated desks and private offices also enjoy 24/7 access and mail and package handling.
Non-members can book time in the flexible conference room, which also features a studio wall for photographers. “In Downingtown we’ve been surprised by how many existing businesses need offsite meeting space,” Nick says, “but it makes sense.” The entire first floor can be rented for events as well. “Lots of times people lack the space or resources for what they want to do, and we can accommodate that,” Melinda says. Other innovative options at Work2gether include pop-up retail, art shows, and gallery space. “People will come to us with ideas to use this space that we never would have dreamed of,” Nick says.
Melinda and Nick say it’s been fun to see all the “rubbernecking” as curious people have walked by during the months they’ve been working on the space. “And now that we’re open we want people to walk in and see it for themselves—we love to show off this great building,” Nick says. “Everyone is welcome.” They also love to hear people’s stories and memories of the building and to see old photos.
The Winklers are grateful for the warm welcome they’ve received from the Kennett Square community and are looking forward to meeting people and coworking here.