Upon walking into Primary, you're welcomed by a luminous desk decorated with live lush greenery. It feels like you're entering a sanctuary instead of a dreary, sterile corporate office. Even though Primary is smack dab in the center of NYC's bustling Financial District, you'll instantly feel calmed by the smells of coffee, teas, fresh juices, and vegan pastries coming from the cafe. Primary is the brainchild of 40-year-old entrepreneur Lisa Skye Hain and her co-founders Brian Hain (her hubby) and Danny Orenstein; that sense of calmness at Primary is exactly what they were aiming to create for businesses and entrepreneurs.
"We chose the name Primary because we believe that if you make your primary focus yourself, your body, and your wellbeing, everything in your life, including your business, can thrive," Lisa said with a warm smile. "Our motto is: you work best when you feel great."
But Primary isn't just coconut lattes and hibiscus teas (although, what more do you really need, right?). The space also offers a 600-square-foot fitness studio to host exercise, yoga and guided meditation classes throughout the day (over 30 classes per week), and opens up to a locker room with six steam showers so you can refresh after sweating it out.
Primary's 25,000 square feet space houses 65 fully enclosed offices, 84 seats in the co-working space, about 100 various companies, and 250 people altogether. The space is set up to foster community and networking. The businesses at Primary run the professional gamut—from public relations agencies and videographers to entrepreneurs and podcast makers. There's even a company that's developing a self-driving car.
"Primary facilitates networking to happen outside of your own company," Lisa explained. "The person who is developing the self-driving car will probably need to meet someone who knows web design, public relations, photography, or marketing."
In 1998, way before Primary became a twinkle in Lisa's eye, she bought a one-way ticket from South Florida to move to NYC. Over the next ten years, Lisa managed two restaurants in Danny Meyer’s hospitality empire, worked on a top residential and commercial real estate sales team with The Corcoran Group, and built the prospering Manhattan Business Network International chapter. Then in 2010, Lisa became the founding Head of Community for WeWork, a company that provides co-working spaces throughout the world. Lisa says she's always been gravitated towards creating communities and bringing people together.
"I said to myself I want to launch my own co-working space but how will I be different? And I kept shelving the idea for a few years," she said. That is, until she starting reaping the benefits of doing yoga, mediating, and eating cleaner and greener. During that time, she was also online dating via the app Tinder and while she was visiting her mom in Portland, she swiped right on Mr. Right aka her husband Brian—a former triathlon coach and endurance athlete.
"It just hit me...there's not a co-working space in New York that has these wellness-focused amenities and tools for businesses," Lisa said.
Primary isn't Lisa's only baby. She's mother to a 20-month-old, Henry, and recently gave birth to Hawk this July (he's in her belly in the lovely portraits✨). If you do the math, she's been pregnant for 20 months over the past 2 years. Lisa coped with two miscarriages before her pregnancy with Henry, and since becoming a mom, she uses obstacles as a way to grow.
"So there have been a lot of challenging moments for sure...just exhaustion and needing to take care of myself. It's been a continued practice of letting go of control, empowering the people around me, and finding great people who I can empower and delegate tasks to. Often I'm surprised because their ideas are better than the ones I can come up with on my own," she said.
While running Primary and parenting 2 boys, she's also been dealing with a condition that can come after pregnancy and childbirth—leaking. She used to love breaking a sweat by pounding the pavement for a few miles. But now, she feels uneasy while running.
"After having my son, running has become uncomfortable for me because I'm leaking. I had to find a way to feel better about that. So that's why, when I found Icon Undies, I thought, this is amazing because I don't have to feel like I have a diaper in my underpants while trying to be a professional, vibrant woman who wants to feel sexy and powerful in my skin. Now I can wear these undies and feel great."
Clearly, not much can derail Lisa from her vision. In fact, Primary plans on opening another location in NYC soon. Lisa says if she hadn't started her own business, she'd regret it.
"There was really no choice or decision to be made. It was, yes of course I'm going to have a family and a business! I want to do both!"
~*What does your dream job/office look like? How do you foster community in your daily life?*~