New Concept Brings ‘Solo-Preneurs’ To Downtown Vallejo

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen Times-Herald, Vallejo, Calif. WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Meet Marisela Barbosa, one of the many wonderful women in business in the Vallejo community. She is the brains behind the "Green Hive" office space which gives "solo-preneurs" the opportunity to work easier, connect, and grow while leveraging each other's ideas and sharing services.

Vallejo, California

Marisela Barbosa of Vallejo said the idea behind Green Hive is to make available office space to share, on a permanent or temporary basis, for local small businesses interested in sustainability.

Busy bees in a "green" hive, so to speak.

Green Hive moved into part of the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce's building at 425 Virginia Street, Suite B recently, and celebrated with a grand opening.

Barbosa, a 30-plus-year Vallejo resident, says Green Hive "promotes collaboration among businesses and organizations resulting in an opportunity to work easier, connect, learn and grow while leveraging each other's ideas and sharing collective activities and services."

Green Hive connects the "solo-preneur" -- the one-person operation -- to the local business community, she said.

That's one of the main things about the operation that Liz Ramos, owner of Engeniate -- one of Green Hive's five current permanent anchor tenets -- says she especially likes. Engeniate is a 3-year-old team-building and leadership development firm.

"I had a home office and do most of my work in client offices, but it's great to have this space," the Vallejo resident said.

"Having the workshop space available is a really great thing. Being part of the community. Being self employed can be difficult. The chamber is right next door. It's really nice to be able to interact with other business owners."

Green Hive was designed with sustainability as its main focus, Barbosa said.

"Some of the elements designed into tenant improvements included an engineered reduction in electric consumption" that pencils out to 1.28 fewer metric tons of CO2 produced annually ... "the equivalent of removing one-fourth of a car off the road per year, or enough electricity to power one-half an average house for a year," she said. "In addition, interior design elements include beautiful reclaimed wood from a building in the Port of Oakland."

Low-VOC paints and materials were used and reclaimed products were used as the main component in items like doors and windows, Barbosa said.

"It was designed to be a co-share office and gathering place for sustainability-focused businesses, organizations and youth, she said.

"Our goal is to provide a way to connect learn and grow," she said.

As Chair Elect of the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce, and a First Five Solano Commissioner, Barbosa, who said she recently completed her Masters Degree, was selected as the 2014 Athena Award Winner (the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce's Woman of the Year) and is active in many organizations. Her husband, and Vallejo City Planning Commissioner Roberto Cortez, owns 12-year-old Monarch Engineering, one of the other anchor tenants. His firm did half of San Francisco's Super Bowl City design, Barbosa said.

"Marcella pitched me the model of flexible work space and I agreed with it, and agreed to be a core tenant," Cortez said. "It provides a better work environment than I had before, elsewhere in Vallejo." Cortez said the Green Hive concept should help new businesses here.

"It's a new concept for Vallejo, to help for instance, home based businesses, or online businesses, a space where they can rent a brick-and-morter location when they need it for meeting clients, for instance."

The Green Hive idea resulted from an innovation class, she said.

"I asked a couple of people if they want to be part of it, and right now I have five, including myself," she said. Besides Monarch Engineers and Engeniate, there's Dublin-based, large-scale developer Dutra Cerro Graden and UC Berkeley Solano Destination College, along with Barbosa's Social Enterprise Leading Action --SELA --"which is also part of my first name. We provide sustainability for small businesses in a socially responsible way," she said.

Tenants contribute to the rent and conference rooms, desks and workshop space is available for rent. "You can go online, to Greenhivepspaces.com, click on what you want, and pay online," Barbosa said.

Vallejo Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Rich Curtola said he couldn't be happier about Barbosa's new enterprise.

"Green Hive is an outstanding compliment to the new downtown," he said. "Marisela Barbosa's concept is timely and visionary and, when complete, will bring as many as 60 new and invigorated entrepreneurs to our downtown. She's calling them "solo-preneurs" ... and I like that. Her clients will be small, hip, solo-owner business people who don't want or need to be tied to a storefront. They'll want to be part of the downtown 'vibe,' for sure, and I think they'll be a real asset to what's going on down here. I see it as a perfect complement to the thriving, cool artist community that's rejuvenating this great downtown and the ambiance that's here. Our organization is thrilled to have Green Hive as our neighbor and our tenant."

Green Hive is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information visit greenhivespaces.com,

[email protected] or call (707) 731-0667.

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