Hub Stories: Freelance Designer Finds Community in California

[Name]: Maura Parente

[Areas of Expertise]: Universal Design, Partnerships, Peer Mentoring

[Memory Lane]:The Holiday party

“It was a joining of Hub SoMa and Hub Berkeley. Holiday parties are one of those typical office things that people look forward to, it gives you a sense of being a part of the community. We all kind of came together to let our guard down.”

Maura remembers rocking out on the dance floor and having a blast. “You see people in a different light, when they’re not in work mode. It’s really nice.”


Maura Parente moved to the Bay Area from Boston in November, 2010. With a background in healthcare and design for aging, Maura had taken a job with a Seattle-based start-up called FabCab and was working remotely out of her kitchen– communicating daily with her two other team-members over Skype.


“It was very isolated,” she explains, “I was getting anxious without anybody to talk to and I didn’t feel like I could be as centrally linked in to what they were doing in Seattle.”

That’s when Maura and her husband found the Hub online, and decided to check it out. From day one in the space, Maura started making connections. “It was the rebirth of my work mentality,” she remembers, “it was so nice to have a place where I could walk in and say hi to people and have them say hi back to me. It was a real community.”


Beyond the scope of recognizable faces and casual office friendships, the Hub has since become Maura’s source for clients and mentorship. Over the past year, she’s made solid business connections at the Hub, and found freelance jobs with Hub members that she’s really excited to work on (SENDA Athletics, ALVA LED-Based Architectural Lighting, Kee-Ka Organics, etc.)  Maura explains that she can rely on the Hub network to give beneficial feedback for her ideas and concepts, and that she’s constantly amazed by how knowledgeable and interconnected Hub members are.


“When I first came to the Hub, FabCab was just this tiny organization with three of us on staff. Being here meant tapping into a huge extended network of people– a reliable network, with experience we could learn from.”

Maura realized that she had planted herself in the middle of a hive of expertise– with infinite room to grow.


Last summer, Maura remembers participating in the Hub’s Fast Pitch lunch series, where she practiced her presentation skills, honed her pitch ideas, and got feedback from a small audience of VC’s and people with diverse experience in both for-profit and non-profit funding.


“It was really valuable in that we could get insight for refining our investor pitches, and it inspired us to understand where we needed to be in terms of preparation before meeting with VC’s. We felt a real sense of camaraderie from going through that start-up phase together,” Maura remembers.

From a three person staff that communicated primarily over Skype, FabCab’s strategic team had bloomed into a large network of business professionals.


Having lived in several major metropolitan areas (Boston, NY, SF), Maura has a unique perspective on Hub Bay Area’s culture. She finds that while West Coast culture is slower paced and more relaxed, people here “think faster,” and are more open to collaboration– whether or not they’re in your immediate network.

“It blows my mind,” she explains, “That people outside of your network are still willing to meet with you. In Boston and New York, my emails rarely got responses– you would just never hear back. Hub Bay Area is unique in that the younger population here has an incredible business sense, and are so open to meeting new people.”


So what’s next in the world of Hub design?  Look for Maura at Hub Berkeley to find out!

Thanks for reading!

Samantha, Your Hub Stories Correspondent

Want to share your Hub Story? Email samantha@hubbayarea.com.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Hub Stories: Freelance Designer Finds Community in California

  1. Pingback: Hub Berkeley Weekly Roll Up: “Bicycle! Bicycle!” | Hub Bay Area

  2. Pingback: Hub Stories: Hub Electrician Says “Lighting is Sexy” | Hub Bay Area

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