In 2011, ten misfit moms (artists, writers, entrepreneurs, designers, makers, educators, professionals), our kids and a hired babysitter met in each other’s homes for nine months before we got up the nerve to open our non-profit space. These moms shared certain alternative qualities: a mind for ideas, a “make-or-die” hunger to create, a boredom with the usual moms groups, and the recognition that motherhood has a dark side. Love is abundant, but life with young kids can be an isolating and fractured existence. We wanted a way to balance that.
We had connections to hackerspaces in the San Francisco Bay Area. We respected the collaborative, open-source culture and values, and loved the renegade idea of hacking an object or idea to modify it your way, be it furniture, a computer program or a recipe. The concept fit what we wanted to achieve: We hacked a hackerspace to fit mothers.
After a few fundraisers, we raised enough money for a down payment on a light-filled, 1,000-square-foot storefront on the Oakland-Berkeley border. We opened our doors in April 2012 – and nothing else like it exists in the world today.
We’re often asked why a hackerspace for mothers? All work and no play makes mom a dull mother, lover and friend! Happy mothers – that is, fulfilled women who are learning and using their talents – are good for the family, the community and the world. HackerMoms is founded on the idea that mothers need a creative outlet and safe environment of encouragement, stimulation, support and permission to explore new ideas.
We didn’t need another playgroup. We wanted something that didn’t exist, a hackerspace for moms with affordable childcare on site. HackerMoms is like the mythical village that raises the child and the mother together. We are a unique tribe within our hacker community. Traditional hackerspaces have great equipment and ambitious projects, but no safe spaces for babies, young children or, consequently, their mothers.
Think of us as a mom rescue for lost creative lives and selves put on hold. Most importantly, it’s where moms come to have fun. If we don’t support this playful creative self every day, we risk burnout, depression, and 2-yr-old-level temper tantrums!