Gentlemen’s Factory began once Jeff Lindor realized that everywhere he went, he had to “fit in.”
And, so, the co-working space for men of color was born. Founded in 2014, it’s more than just a professional network and a makeshift office: It’s also a community.
“There aren’t necessarily places that ‘fit me’,”Lindor explained to Yahoo Finance. “As a result, I founded the Gentlemen’s Factory because that’s not only a situation I encounter. I realized that so many other black and brown men face that same reality.”
Members pay $150 per month, and are male and predominantly black. However, it is also open to other ethnic groups: Lindor said there are Hispanic and Middle Eastern members of the roughly 150 members of the community — part of an effort to create a space for working class professionals that Lindor described as “isolated.”
He added: “They’re husbands, fathers, and entrepreneurs. The higher they get in their accomplishments, the less of them they see. There weren’t physical spaces that were designed specifically for them in mind.”
The inside of Gentlemen’s Factory looks like a professional ‘man cave’ that features a miniature golf turf, tailoring services, a barber, and televisions. The space is open 24 hours a day for men who need to work at odd hours — and through a partnership with the coworker company BKLN Commons, they can also access conference rooms and other spaces.
Building confidence, ‘bouncing ideas’
The Haitian-born Brooklyn native said that when he thought of Gentlemen’s Factory, he had no idea it would evolve into its current form. Many of the members are entrepreneurs, or men looking for an investment opportunity. They all benefit not just from the camaraderie, but also the ability to share ideas and build confidence.
According to the founder, it can be helpful to see other men succeeding or facing similar hurdles. As a result, members can begin to chip away at the feeling of isolation, and get comfortable with articulating their needs.
The members-only club is also “intergenerational,” Lindor said, with ages spanning from 23 to 74, and the average age between 30 and 40.
Part of the benefit of joining Gentlemen’s Factory, Lindor says, is building the confidence and skills of the entrepreneurs and businessmen who join. Members invest in each other’s companies, and partner with others to create businesses, while others will pay fellow members for their services.
There are also monthly pitch competitions, allowing members to build and hone their skills in a safe and encouraging environment. Winners take home a cash prize, but also much more: Some members have gone on to appear on the hit show, “Shark Tank.”
Gentlemen’s Factory member Marvin Johnson, co-founder of the company Dashible told Yahoo Finance that joining the space has helped him improve his processes as a business owner.