We talked to Audrey Gelman about The Wing's new SoHo location and why we need women-only spaces
When Audrey Gelman launched her women-only club and co-working space in New York City last year, she had a clear vision. Modeled after women’s social clubs of the 1800s, The Wing would be a place where women could come together, get work done, and build a community. Fast forward to today, where she’s more than succeeded. (Fun fact: Gelman was the real-life inspiration for Allison Williams’ character Marnie on Lena Dunham’s HBO series Girls.)
It turns out the 30-year-old former publicist had the right idea, because it wasn’t long before all 650 memberships were scooped up. Lined with bookshelves and millennial pink accents, the club, based in NYC’s Flatiron neighborhood, soon had a waiting list of 8,000 women and counting. They needed to expand.
By April, The Wing had three new locations in the works — downtown NYC, Washington D.C., and Brooklyn — all slated to open by winter of 2018. This past Thursday, the first of the new outposts, in NYC’s SoHo neighborhood, welcomed its first ladies inside.
The new location features a chic, feminine aesthetic with plenty of millennial pink and plants speckled among its rainbow color-coordinated bookshelves. The space was designed with women’s needs in mind; in addition to private offices and phone booths, it features showers, lockers, a nap room (yes, you read that correctly), and a beauty room. It’s basically becoming a home away from home for its members, who pay $2,250 a year to belong to the cushy club.
But there are other perks, too, that make so many women want to shell out thousands for membership. A robust schedule of professional, social, and hands-on events, for one, featuring noteworthy speakers like White House correspondents. There’s also an all-female lending library with over 2,000 titles and a women-only art gallery.
Belonging to The Wing provides more than a space to get work done; it’s admittance to a progressive, feminist, and empowering culture.
Sounds like a girl’s dream come true, right?
Below, Gelman answers our questions about the buzzy women’s social club.
HelloGiggles: First, let’s talk about the space. It’s three times the size of your flagship location. Can you clue us in to how much your membership base is going to expand?
Audrey Gelman: The scale of the SoHo location is one of my favorite things about the new space. It’s three times the size of our Flatiron location, but feels much bigger. I think a part of that has to do with the space being so full of light between the incredible skylights and windows looking out onto Broadway and Mercer. We’re thrilled that this space will allow us to expand our community of women, which currently has thousands of members.
HG: What are some of the exciting events you have planned for the new space? What new ways will you work social activism into your programs?
AG: We take a very editorial approach to designing programming and events that we think our members will enjoy the most, based on their interests and direct feedback. We’re excited to extend that programming into a new space based on new and existing members requests. We’ve got a super exciting first month planned at The Wing SoHo, including pie making, volunteering with Citymeals on Wheels, a discussion on covering Trump with White House correspondents Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni, and a talk with Diane von Furstenberg.
HG: I see the conference rooms are named after fictional characters like Ramona Quimby and Blanche Devereaux. Who is your favorite fictional feminist?
AG: It’s probably a tie between Jo March in Little Women and Lisa Simpson for me.
HG: The all-female lending library catalog is also really impressive. Can you recommend 3 of your favorite works there?
AG: Joan Didion’s Political Fictions is an amazing collection of essays about culture and politics. Fran Lebowitz’s Metropolitan Life — another book of essays that defines to me the definition and attitude of a “New York woman.” bell hooks’sFeminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics is a beautiful and optimistic volume of essays on feminist theory and intersectionality.
HG: Inclusivity has been a major theme this year. Are there any ways you’re working to embrace diversity across racial and socio-economic lines?
AG: Inclusivity is at the core of our mission, as we strive to create space and community for women of all ages, backgrounds, and professions who are driven to pursue their passions. We want to ensure the women of The Wing have varied experiences so they can collaborate to help each other to grow and learn. We are developing new tiers and categories of membership that we’ll share more about in the new year that allow even more women to access the space and community.
HG: In light of the #MeToo movement, what is The Wing doing to join the fight against sexual harassment and assault?
AG: The Wing will continue to provide a safe space and community for women to discuss their own experiences, fears, and hopes for the future. We’ve hosted a number of discussions/events on the topic of sexual harassment and assault as a way to open the dialogue between members. We can’t make a difference without sharing our stories and coming up with collaborative solutions together.
HG: Why is it important for women to have a space that’s all their own?
AG: We live in a world where the rules are still predominantly written by men and now, more than ever, it’s important for women to come together. We created The Wing because we believe that women deserve a place of their own that provides them with the physical space they need to do work, along with the community, resources, and amenities they are looking for.
HG: This has obviously been a milestone year for feminism. How do you think 2017 will be remembered and written about, say, 10, 20 years into the future?
AG: It’s been a deeply challenging year but one that I think will be remembered for inciting a deep political awakening among women and young people and new standards for what behaviors we will accept as a society.