To kick off Black History Month, I want to introduce you to a special place that is focused on the wellness of Black and Brown women. Arielle Grant is the founder and CEO of Render Free, a workspace and wellness place for self-identified Black and Brown women.
With a background in communication, Arielle is a voice of reason and authenticity within the Twin Cities. As a transplant from Michigan and Indiana, Arielle came to Minnesota to share her knowledge and expertise in bringing equity and advocacy to organizations that she worked for. Arielle quickly discovered that there was unlearning and undoing that these companies needed, but weren’t ready to do. She personally felt an expectation to be the “token Black employee” for these companies and she started feeling chronic stress when these companies wouldn’t implement new practices in their institutions.
Looking for respite, Arielle would seek Black-owned cafes and restaurants to center herself and quickly noticed how most of the armor she carried at her day job was quickly released when she stepped into these welcoming spaces. It’s common for Black and Brown women to carry feelings of heaviness with them from their workplace. Whether is the need to code-switch or fear of being judged, the stress can mount.
So, Arielle began to think about what would it look like if there was a place for her to be, without the need to wear armor to protect her heart and soul. In that thought, Render Free was born. Instead of retreating and moving back home, Arielle made a conscious decision to help transform Minneapolis.
Why the need for a space for only women of color? Because Black women are disproportionately burdened by chronic stress and health conditions caused by our working environments.
In 2020, Arielle opened the doors to the first iteration of what would be Render Free in the basement of a church. For a year, Render Free was open on Thursdays and Fridays and welcomed 200+ members to their space and mission which is to “disrupt anti-Black racism in the form of racial trauma by promoting whole-body wellness for self-identified Black and Brown women.”
Render Free has four core offerings that support its mission – Lounge and Workplace, Member Care, Solidarity Sessions, and Featured Wellness Practitioners. A list of these core offerings with descriptions can be found at https://www.renderfree.com/membership
The Workplace is the physical space provided by Render Free located in Minneapolis. It invites women to rest and take up space in an environment that supports and understands them. Everything is intentional with this space and it sets the tone for their mission.
The workplace features:
- 1 full kitchen available for members’ use
- 1 atrium lounge with skylight ceiling
- 1 clubhouse with flexible furniture and floor seating
- 2 conference rooms available for booking and communal seating
- 2 co-working rooms with individual desks
- 2 quiet cubbies for naps, intimate meetings or moments of meditation
The next core value at Render Free is Member Care. This value provides one on one care for members and staff to vent, feel understood, and support each other.
Solidarity Sessions is the third core value of Render Free. This is held in one of their conference rooms or via zoom, where members can connect with each other discussing topics and life in a space that is tailored to them.
Not only does Render Free support members but they also support Featured Wellness Practitioners by offering their services complimentary for members, think therapy, acupuncture, hair care, and more.
In 2022, Arielle began phase two of Render Free, which was to find a bigger space that would allow for more members as well as the ability to be open five days a week. On Friday, February 3rd, Render Free will launch its second location with a grand opening at 685 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis. All are welcome to this open house-style event which includes light refreshments, live music, and self-guided tours. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here.
Anyone can some check out the space for themselves on Friday, regardless of race and gender. Render Free wants the community to help support this new place of wellness. This open house is deliberate to inspire change. “Community changes happen through the community,” Arielle says. She hopes allies can contribute in many ways:
“Sponsor a membership, volunteer to help get the new space to the vision they see fit, and advocate for group membership for their place of work, supporting women of color in their work environment.” To find out how to be an ally go to https://www.renderfree.com/support
Please sign up for their newsletter and spread the word about this one-of-a-kind wellness opportunity available to women who identify as Brown or Black. Membership pricing and day passes are available on their website. Come see why so many members are calling Render Free, “a one true safe place” in their lives. Render Free is for you and built with you in mind.