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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 18, 2017

Yoimono: Co-working space where ‘good stuff’ can happen

By By Deborah Neyens, The Gazette | Sep 26, 2017

CEDAR RAPIDS — Yoimono is Japanese for “good stuff.” It’s also the name of Will Lenzen Jr.’s new co-working space, where he hopes a lot of “good stuff” will be born.

Lenzen opened Yoimono on Sept. 15 in Cedar Rapids’s New Bohemia District for freelancers, entrepreneurs and employees working remotely to work in a collaborative environment.

“I want this space to feel different and to feel creative,” Lenzen said. “We need to see more things in Cedar Rapids pushing the boundaries of creativity and offering people new and different experiences.”

He said other co-working spaces in the area are more focused — Dostal House is geared toward women and the Vault is primarily for start-ups.

Lenzen, who works as an experience and brand designer and illustrator, came up with the idea for Yoimono earlier this year when talking with a friend about how isolating it can be to work in a creative field.

“There are lots of very talented creatives in Cedar Rapids, but we tend to be off on our own little islands,” he observed. “I can go to a conference and become better friends with the people I meet there after just a weekend together than I am with people in my own town.”

Lenzen began looking for an appropriate space in which to build the creative community he envisioned and, on Aug. 1, took possession of the former Black Earth Gallery location in the Cherry Building.

“It was a fairly simple thing to put together,” he said. “I knew I had the chops to create a space people would like.”

With the help of friends after he fell off a ladder and bruised his ribs, Lenzen painted the walls and ceilings and added murals. He built desks and a communal table and bought and installed lockers and a kitchen nook.

“It’s a marriage of living room space and heads-down space,” he said.

Yoimono offers memberships — “like a gym membership,” he said — on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. Day rates also are available.

Members receive a key to the space, a mailing address and amenities such as wifi, a coffee station and video games. Parking is free, and members are welcome to bring their dogs.

Lenzen said he plans to cap membership at 20, although he may adjust that number depending on daily usage.

“To me, this is more of a community thing than about making money,” he said. “I don’t have the capacity for it to be enormously profitable.”

Lenzen intends to host meetups and other special events at Yoimono, including movie nights and show-and-tell events during which members can share their work with others.

“I want people to know people are doing really cool stuff in Cedar Rapids,” he said. “My idea and hope is this space helps others in their pursuit of greatness.”

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