How She’s Making It Work: Christina Iguodala

There are nearly 2.7 million Black women-owned businesses in the United States, making this one of the fastest-growing categories of business owners. To celebrate some of the amazing women who are contributing to this growth, we spoke with entrepreneurs from an area in Oakland area where Ayesha’s Sweet July flagship store is located. Endearingly dubbed The Block, the buzzy strip is known for its Black female-owned businesses. Here, Pillar Cowork owner Christina Igoudala shares how she got where she is, her best advice, and how she’s coped with the challenges of the last year.

Pillar Cowork

After years of focusing on raising her children, this mom pursued her dream of opening a creative spot offering flexible workspace, childcare options and support to a growing community of entrepreneurs.

“Having a community of people to talk to is really important.”

What made you decide to start your business?

I never entered the traditional workforce. I transitioned from college to stay-at-home mom, and I was fully committed to that role. But as my son got older, I began to realize that I needed an outlet other than wife and mother. That’s what led me to think about creating a safe space, a haven if you will, for people to go work in. I wanted to come up with something that was unlike the bro-ey vibe so many other coworking spaces have. I was introduced to my business partner because she had a similar idea and we sort of merged our plans together.


You opened your business right before the pandemic changed everything. What was that like?

You have to be flexible and resilient. In a way, it’s been a blessing that we had just launched our business when all of this happened. We weren’t so set in our business plan yet and we were able to shift more easily. We reopened over the summer with a lot of precautions in place that we had been able to take the time to really think about. We have reduced seating capacity in our space, added private workspace options for increased isolation, do temperature checks upon arrival and much more.

Photo by Brandon Ruffin

One of the goals of your business is to provide space for small businesses and foster a sense of community. Why was that important to you?

I’m a very strong person and I think, sometimes, it can be hard to ask for help. But what I realized is that having a community of people to talk to is really important. We built Pillar to provide that—it’s an open coworking space that allows people to communicate.

What has surprised you most about being a businesswoman?

That even though I never entered the traditional workforce or majored in business or finance, I am doing it. I’ve realized that I need to give myself more credit. Often, I think women put up barriers in front of themselves. But we can do it. We really can.


As seen in the pages of Sweet July Magazine. 

You May Also Like...