“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 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.
With three kids and a dog it was difficult to work from home, and I was tired of working at Wegmans.
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, in 2018—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 both the Downingtown and Kennett Square locations, 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 coworkers without the bad parts,” Nick says with a smile.
One of the greatest advantages of coworking spaces is intangible . . . the connections people make . . . The social aspect is a key part of the coworking experience.
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. Although they originally identified the long-vacant building at 120 East State Street as the ideal location, it took several years before they were able to arrange a lease for the first three floors. After a quick trip to NOLA for inspiration, they went to work 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 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 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 reflects the personalities of the members inhabiting it. Having opened in February 2020, only weeks ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, the Winklers have been pouring heart and soul into their business and also into the town of Kennett Square.
Nick, who was at the time the Borough’s newest business owners, organized a gift card program in the spring of 2020 to help local businesses stay afloat. This program, called Kennett Strong, brought over $30,000 in revenue to participating small businesses at a critical point in the shutdown. Nick, along with all of the participating business owners, were grateful to everyone who showed their love for their local community by purchasing these gift cards.
Work2gether continues to bring an eclectic group of people to Kennett Square, and the Winklers enjoy seeing the positive impact on the community. “It’s great for all businesses,” Melinda says. “In Downingtown, Work2gether is a hub of businesses where people connect.” As they continue to build in the wake of the pandemic, 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. “We’ve been surprised by how many existing businesses and organizations 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 programs and events at Work2gether include pop-up retail, art shows, and gallery space. “People come to us with ideas to use this space that we never would have dreamed of,” Nick says.
Melinda and Nick love nothing more than to show off this great building and enjoy giving tours to anyone and everyone. “Everyone is welcome,” Nick says. 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 invite people to explore the fun and flexible options that coworking offers.
We want people to walk in and see it for themselves—everyone is welcome.
—NICK & MELINDA WINKLER