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Helping women create meaningful connections

The Dostal House was built in 1910 and was renovated after the flood of 2008. It now operates as a coworking space founded by Meegan Hofmeister. Photographed in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
The Dostal House was built in 1910 and was renovated after the flood of 2008. It now operates as a coworking space founded by Meegan Hofmeister. Photographed in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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When people walk by the tiny Dostal House in NewBo, they may not immediately be able to tell what kind of business is inside.

“People don’t know what they’re missing,” says founder Meegan Hofmeister. “Once they walk through the doors, they feel like they belong. Of course, I’m a little biased, but that’s what members have told me.”

Inspired by coworking spaces for women that have opened up in cities across the country, Meegan Hofmeister opened the business in 2017 to create a welcoming space where entrepreneurial women can connect with others while pursuing their passions. Located on Third Street SE near NewBo City Market, the petite house is well organized. If any of the 20-plus members need to get work done — the second floor is quiet and businesslike. The first floor is designed to be more conversational so members can chat and bounce ideas off each other. “It’s a casual, comfortable environment designed with women’s specific needs in mind.”

Many of The Dostal House members, including graphic designers, photographers and website developers, are working on solo business ventures that, before The Dostal House, meant lots of time working alone at home.

“When I was working at home, I found myself feeling isolated and lonely,” Hofmeister said. “I need the energy of other people.” The Dostal House provides just that for Hofmeister and Dostal House members who use the space to collaborate and socialize. “My goal was to bring together like-minded women to support and encourage each other in their business endeavors and personal lives. I also make sure we always have rosé.”

When Hofmeister moved to Cedar Rapids from a small town, she found it difficult, at first, to break into what seemed like a tight-knit community of people with well-established connections. “Once you get plugged into the community and people here, it’s a big small town,” she said.

She feels that the NewBo neighborhood is the perfect place for Dostal House members to connect and collaborate with other small business people. “I have a passion for NewBo and the entrepreneurial spirit of the neighborhood. There’s an open-mindedness and willingness to try things that are outside the box.”

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Hofmeister says the connections made at the house are unique. “I’ve created a culture where we’re authentic and vulnerable.”

As the number of members continues to grow, Hofmeister may be considering a move to a new space. “I’m limited on the number of women I can serve. It’s a cute, tiny house, and I’ve worked to maximize the space, but eventually, I’d like to offer more amenities. There are a lot of women in the community who are doing amazing things,” she said. “

For more information on The Dostal House, go to thedostalhouse.com or go to its Facebook page to learn about upcoming events.

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