The business, Braid Mill, hopes to reach out to the surrounding East Germantown community.
The factory building at 441 High Street began its journey in the early 20th century as one of the many textile mills in Philly, with workers producing hosiery inside. In 1926, new owners renamed the factory Excelsior Braid Mill. Over 100 years later, Braid Mill is home to workers again, but this time they’re doing other work like photography and architecture.
After a three-year renovation, Hatched Real Estate, a South Philly real estate development company, opened Braid Mill as a new co-working and office space in Germantown in early January, keeping its 1920s name. On May 1, the company began offering memberships.
Flaunting exposed brick and natural light flooding in from windows across walls and open spaces, the Braid Mill has a glossy interior with modern furniture yet features some rugged original pieces from the factory, like a table, columns, and ceilings.
Owners of the property, managing partners of Hatched, and brothers Seth and Matt Shipon hope Braid Mill will weave together a community like how those textiles came together in the factory, Matt said. Some Germantown residents see Braid Mill’s potential to help entrepreneurs and connect residents from different neighborhood areas.
Between two levels, the 35,000 square foot space offers private commercial offices, a photo studio, an event space, a communal co-working space, a communal kitchen and lounge, private bathrooms with showers, a bike and mail room, as well as other rooms available for booking. Braid Mill’s tenants include Architecture Demarest, Need in Deed, plus Flicker and Elm.
With the space open, Bashlee Sanon, Community Manager at Hatched, looks forward to “seeing people enjoy the space and the joy that it brings them,” she said.
Braid Mill offers memberships ranging between $19 a month and $299 a month. They offer a free week pass for people interested in Braid Mill that offers access Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Renting out Braid Mill’s photo studio is $100 per hour with a booking minimum of two hours, while the event space price will depend on how many people attend and the use of the space.
Hatched hopes to connect more with the East Germantown community through events they’d like to host, such as an event featuring food trucks outside and networking gatherings inside the main building, Matt said.
These events might range in prices depending on the event, Seth said.
Braid Mill strives to reach workers who are looking for a community in their workspace, Sanon said.
Matthew George, the Business Development Manager and Clean Corridor Program Manager at Germantown United CDC, lives in Germantown and called Braid Mill a “hidden gem.”
George sees potential for Braid Mill to benefit entrepreneurs and organizations in the surrounding area.
George said Hatched wants to host open houses and collaborate with different community groups and associations and Germantown United CDC will talk with Hatched to see if they can help out, George added.
“You don’t get that from a lot of developers, so they usually come in the neighborhood and kind of conduct their stuff which seems in private, sometimes, and then there’s no real community involvement,” George said.
Braid Mill started reaching out to local businesses in the area and some have come by, Seth said.
When a business has a service fee in a neighborhood like East Germantown that includes folks who have working class incomes and is a historically Black neighborhood, it should consider who its audience is and how it will appeal to the neighborhood, George said.
He suggested one way to do this might be by offering a day or weekly pass, which would also help the business gain exposure.
“I think that’s something to definitely consider when you’re creating those types of things, especially and in the minority community,” George said. “If it is a day pass, if it is just a weekly pass or something like that, to allow somebody of a lower income to take advantage of that space.”
Emily Demarest, partner of Architecture Demarest, moved the architecture firm into Braid Mill the second week of January and said it feels wonderful to be there.
Demarest, who is a West Central Germantown resident, enjoys using the building’s different lounge spaces to break out to collaborate with her staff, she said.
She feels that folks commuting from hyper-local areas to work at Braid Mill in East Germantown will be a nice way to grow the community.
One of the first weeks commuting to Braid Mill, Demarest met the neighbor who has a nearly identical address other than that Demarest is on West Walnut Lane and the neighbor lives on East Walnut Lane, whose mail she frequently receives.
After Demarest spotted her address twin taking out the trash, she stopped to chat with the neighbor who she learned is also a parent to children of similar age to Demarest’s kids. They exchanged phone numbers and plan to meet-up in the summer with their children.
“If more folks are coming from hyper local areas, they’re going to be walking around the neighborhood and having similar sort of serendipitous meetings,” Demarest said.