The Wing has landed in Brooklyn.
“We move fast,” says co-founder Audrey Gelman, and it’s true. After announcing the women-only co-working and community space was coming to Dumbo last summer, miracle of miracles, that opening actually happened within a reasonable amount of time. Speedy construction? In New York City? Unheard of!
But you’d expect nothing less from the club-turned-movement, which now has a 13,000-person waiting list of people clamoring to get in. The original Flatiron outpost opened in October 2016 and its SoHo expansion opened just a year later. Gelman says they were approached with the idea for their first Brooklyn site by landlord Two Trees Management, responsible for much of the revitalization of the Dumbo waterfront. Gelman says it was hard at first to imagine transforming the vacant Bubby’s restaurant location at the Clocktower Building on 1 Main St., in a space that was once upon a time a cardboard-box factory.
And yet here we are, standing in the 9,000-sq.-ft. space, surrounded by blush pink chairs, cacti artfully arranged here and there, and a deep-green lounge space inset into the floor, which Gelman says they’ve just nicknamed “The Pit.” Exposed beams hint at its industrial past, but the rest of the environment is defiantly modern.
Since last summer, by the way, The Wing raised $32 million in a Series B round of funding, which helps explain the quick turnaround. The Dumbo location officially opens to members today.
Once your turn comes up on the wait list, membership for one location costs $215 a month ($2,350 annually), or access to all “current and future locations” runs $250 a month ($2,700 annually). Besides admission to spaces and events, members receive discounts to a wide-ranging group of partners including New York Times, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the skin-care line Glossier. The Wing Dumbo will open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“A big percentage of our members already live in Brooklyn,” says Gelman, who resides in Carroll Gardens and has called Brooklyn home for eight years, though two years ago she wouldn’t have expected an expansion to her home borough. “There are so many reasons to come to Brooklyn, we’re just happy to be one of them.”
When asked if this grand opening feels almost like giving birth, Gelman laughs and says, “My business partner [Lauren Kassan] just gave birth, but this feels like the closest I’ve come.” Fine-tuning the details must have been endless, I remark–so many color swatches! So many chairs to choose from! Gelman says that’s the fun part. Most of the real work involves the HVAC system and taxes and insurance.
Everything about the new Wing is bigger in scale. The double-height ceilings and plush, well, everything, act as antidote to the wood-and-steel look found in most co-working spaces. (The Wing employed the same team from their original locations, architect Alda Ly and interior designer Chiara de Rege.) Members can pick up snacks and meals at The Perch, an expansion of their Flatiron dining options, for which they hired their first culinary director, from Cobble Hill’s La Vara.
A lending library was created in partnership with The Strand bookstore, which had never before built a library solely devoted to female authors. The shelves are color-coordinated. (I resisted moving a green book into the pristine all-white section, but oh, how I longed to.) There are little surprises here and there: Like the rest of The Wing, which acts as both a safe haven and creative collaboration space, the shelves do double duty, acting as doors to private phone booths.
Wallpaper created by Joana Avillez and Flat Vernacular feature illustrations of women like Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Lady Deborah Moody, the first female landowner in the U.S. Another nod to Brooklyn is the art on the walls—the female-owned gallery Picture Room, located on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn Heights, will rotate work by notable female artists both in the main area and lobby. Gelman mentioned that collaborations are in the works with the boutique Bird and Emma Straub’s Books Are Magic store, as well as for upcoming events with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and a weekly breakfast series for Brooklyn creatives.
But wait, back to the space. Need to document your presence? There’s a vintage photo booth. Need a private moment? There’s a meditation room that can double as a private yoga area. (Cushions provided by MNDFL, another brand partner.) Need a different kind of private moment? There’s a pump room for new mothers. Need to record your thoughts? There’s a podcast room with four microphones—members can learn how to create their own podcast and upload and send files to themselves.
There are showers, lockers, and a beauty room with products by Chanel and Living Proof in another extension of brand partnership. Like the rest of the converted buildings on Main and Water Streets, from the balcony upstairs there’s a killer view of the sparkling river and bridges and downtown Manhattan.
The Wing isn’t the only women’s club to be making waves, but it certainly has the most attention. There’s also the spa-inspired Hera Hub in California, Rise in St. Louis, Shecosystem in Toronto, and EvolveHer in Chicago. What sets The Wing apart is exceptional branding and an eye towards the future. They’ve also launched No Man’s Land, a twice-yearly magazine, and when asked if they have their own podcast, Gelman said, “Not yet.” Plus, a handsome—sorry, beautiful—merch shop sits right next to the entrance of the space, selling T-shirts, keychains that read “Girls doing whatever the fuck they want in 2018,” matchbooks and bundles of sage, and other ways to proclaims Wing Woman status.
When you think about it, the possibilities for branding and expanding are endless. First, they built a beautiful space catering to an underserved group. Then they found devoted members. Next? A Washington, D.C., location opens in March, and perhaps L.A. and San Francisco are on the horizon. For The Wing, there’s nowhere to fly but north, west—and, of course, up.