Local business owner breaks barriers, cultural norms with 'Work and Play Lounge'

Fitting into a box has never worked for Margie Haywood. With no funding from banks, she’s the first Black woman to open a co-working space in Washington. She’s also committed to undoing cultural norms when it comes to the blueprint of business planning.

"Just create the things you wish existed," said Haywood. "That’s literally been my favorite quote since I was young. ‘If it doesn’t exist, how can I create it?’"

Back in 2015, Haywood was working as the director of youth and young adult services for YWCA when her two young sons, only 1 and 2 at the time, had a major accident falling from a 30-foot window.

"Overnight I found myself at Harborview in the middle of ICU balancing two children on life support and not knowing if they were going to live," said Haywood. "If they would speak again, if they would walk. And it was in that moment I knew I had nothing else to give anyone else but to myself and to my children. So I wrote my resignation in the hospital and started writing my business plan while I was at Harborview hospital."

Once the toddlers began recovering, Haywood started looking for a place where she could work or hold meetings while also having someone look after her kids in the same space. She quickly found no such place existed, so she decided to create Work and Play Lounge.

But getting to that point took overcoming trio of setbacks. She’s never received any capital from banks, because they didn’t align with her vision. When Haywood self-funded her original location in Bellevue, the landlord filed for bankruptcy three months into the start of the lease—and she lost everything. Then the pandemic started. But qualifying for stimulus funding ended up being the break she needed.

"I put [the stimulus checks] to the side and didn’t cash them," said Haywood. "My mortgage is going three, four, five months. I’m like, ‘Nah I’m not paying that. I can work with them later… I’ll catch up on that. I’m taking this money and putting it to the side.’ I think there were three or four [checks]. That’s how I restarted my business."

That money helped Haywood open a new location in West Seattle.

"So here I am now going on eight years later, the vision is the same as what it was in the hospital, now. But the one that was in-between started to look like someone else’s."

Haywood leases her space in West Seattle, but says her next goal is to own commercial real estate to give more women an opportunity to pursue their own entrepreneurial goals and help close the wealth gap.

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Work and Play Lounge is looking to raise $250,000 from 10,000 ambassadors in the community. By donating $25, you are preventing this small business from closing its doors and recovering from the COVID-19 shutdown. Click here to help them create more space for work-from-home professionals, connect other small businesses to resources and empower youth.