A new women’s-only workspace and social club in New York City, created to offer like-minded members a place to network and connect, seeks to offer an alternative to standard coworking spaces and their sometimes “bro-centric” culture, and tap into the “magic that’s created when women gather together.”
The Wing —the brainchild of 29-year-old Audrey Gelman, a PR specialist who was the inspiration for the Marnie character on Girls, and her friend and partner Lauren Kassen, previously a director at ClassPass—came out of a desire to create a women’s-only space that offers the flexibility of coworking spaces and the community of social clubs without being too stuffy. The name itself is a play off the wing of a home, a reference to a space of one’s own.
Designed by Leong Leong, with interiors by Chiara de Rege and Hilary Koyfman of CDR&Co, The Wing offers a light, airy, Scandinavian-accented gathering space, with a library and workspace (stacked with a collection of books by female authors), a kitchen, and a beauty room complete with custom toile wallpaper by Flat Vernacular showing scenes of working women throughout the city.
The designers of the 3,500-square-foot space deliberately focused on light-filled, open layouts, meant to invoke a more domestic and residential atmosphere, all part of the goal of providing a home away from home.
“Other clubs can be intimidating,” Gelman says. “We want people to perceive a very ‘come-as-you-are’ attitude.”
The concept for The Wing came to Gelman as a means of both juggling an overtaxed, contemporary schedule, and paying tribute to the tradition of early 20th century women’s clubs. During days spent running between meetings in Manhattan, she found herself jumping between coffee shops, hotel lobbies, and coworking spaces such as Breather, constantly on the move, constantly hauling a laptop, and constantly feeling cramped, crowded, or short on time.
With lockers, a kitchen, and a calendar of events focused on professional development and socializing, The Wing aims to be a place to reconnect and relax, and serve as an in-between place during hectic days.
“I needed a flexible space designed with women in mind,” she says. “As I started to really hone in on what this thing is that I needed, I came upon this slice of women’s history I didn’t know about.”
These early women’s clubs, located in women’s boarding houses other spaces throughout the city, were used in the same way men would use gentleman’s clubs, offering spaces for networking, leisure activities, and political organizing (especially around suffrage) for the first waves of women attending universities and beginning careers. The Wing actually found a space at 5 East 20th Street near Gramercy Park, in an area that was once known as Ladies’ Mile, where many of New York’s more than 600 women-only clubs of the time were located.
The Wing currently has 250 members, who pay $1,950 annually ($1,500 for founding members), or $185 each month, but will accept new applications on the 25th of every month. While the focus is squarely on building community around the first location, the endeavor has attracted a slate of investors, including AOL, Harvey Spevak, CEO of Equinox, Elizabeth Cutler, and Julie Rice, founder of Soul Cycle, suggesting this concept has room to expand.