Arielle Grant’s personal experience inspired her to create Render Free, a social and wellness club for self-identifying Black and Brown women. She remembers, “Every morning before work, I sipped my coffee and put on my suit of armor before walking out the front door. I discovered that most organizations were extremely unwilling to disinvest in racist policies and practices. I was often asked to bear the sole responsibility of undoing racism at these organizations. Showing up as a Black woman in these white spaces day in and day out, constantly calling to question my sense of worth, is traumatizing. If left unaddressed, racial trauma can lead to physical ailments. For me, this showed up in the form of frequent headaches, a weaker immune system, neck and shoulder pains, and sleep disruption.”
Knowing that few wellness resources exist to address the hardship of racial trauma, Arielle created a space for self-identifying Black and Brown women to rest, heal, work, and just be. A place to breathe.
Render means to make, so Render Free actually translates into “to make liberation”. The social club is housed in the Center of Belonging collaborative and affords members access to a community lounge, cafe, co-working area, and virtual offerings highlighting healing strategies.
Although Render Free is focused on wellness, Arielle explains, “We get compared to coworking spaces a lot. I prefer the word lounge because I encourage members to take naps. There’s no judgment here to perform. All people have inherent worth beyond what we can produce.”
The thought of opening a lounge during a pandemic might have stopped many developers, but Arielle has seen an immense amount of interest and support. “I have members who pay every month but aren’t able to come to the space. They tell me they believe Render Free is needed now more than ever.”
Ashley Oolman is a founding member who spends one day a week in the space. “I signed up within 15 minutes of learning about Render Free. It sounded heavenly.” Ashley uses the space to work, meditate, and connect with other women of color. “I didn’t realize how isolated I actually felt before. I asked myself how have I lasted so long without Render Free?”
Beyond individual memberships, Arielle says many organizations are seeing the value in buying their employees memberships to support their workplace inclusion and wellness initiatives.
Learn more about joining the MN Black Chamber of Commerce.