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Soon after I left Lake Flato Architects in 2008 to pursue design build, the recession hit. My husband, Clay, who was my fiancé at the time, had been working as an IT consultant and was looking for career change that would allow him to try something new. So he decided to jump in and help me with the projects I was working on.

We were working out of our small home before deciding to take our office from the kitchen table to the bottom floor of the duplex we had purchased before the recession. The idea when we bought the duplex was to fix it up to rent or sell, but when the economy tanked, we weren’t able to afford to work on it. So our new office wasn’t in the best shape and not the ideal place to have clients and contractors over. We knew it was time to find a real office space.

After bouncing around several offices, we came upon a building we liked. It wasn’t for sale, but we eventually convinced the owner to sell to us in 2018. We knew it was too big for just us, so we came up with the idea of a coworking space. Neither of us had done anything like this before, so it was definitely scary, but we took the leap and have been incredibly happy with what we’ve built at 500 Sixth.

We decided to divide the second floor into private suites and have desks downstairs in a more open floor plan with common areas, like a lounge, kitchen, and conference room. We wanted a space like what we would have wanted when we were just starting out.

Unlike many other coworking spaces that operate on a membership model with shared desks, our model is more focused on dedicated desks and dedicated suites. That means we have fewer tenants, which allows us to develop more relationships with people in the space.

Kristin and Clay Hefty at the 500 Sixth coworking space in June.
Kristin and Clay Hefty at the 500 Sixth coworking space in June. Credit: Nick Wagner / San Antonio Report

The people we share the space with are like-minded entrepreneurs in different fields. Our 30 tenants include architects, an interior designer, immigration attorney, real estate attorney, political consultant, land developer, land appraiser, wine distributor, and a post-production video editing company. We love that we’re able to interact with people in different industries on a daily basis, which isn’t something you get in a typical private office setting. While our work might look different, we’re all passionate about what we do and it’s great to feed off of each other’s energy.

There’s also flexibility for businesses to grow into a larger space within 500 Sixth. We’ve had businesses start with one or two desks downstairs, then move into a private suite upstairs after they’ve expanded and hired more staff. That’s definitely something we would have wanted as we were growing our own architecture firm and we had to keep moving our office.

Despite not having done anything like this before, Clay has done a phenomenal job managing 500 Sixth and making sure our tenants are happy. He does most of the cleaning around the office, including bathrooms, and makes sure everyone has what they need. He’ll tell you it’s not always glamorous, but certainly rewarding.

As we continue to grow, we’d like to expand on the footprint that we already own. We have room to grow vertically, as well as into a lot adjacent to the building. Maybe down the line if we come across another building that fits our vision, we’d love to be able to extend our services to more people.

Kristin Hefty

Kristin Hefty owns the 500 Sixth coworking space with her husband, Clay.