Why Are 8,000 Women on This Club’s Waitlist?The Wing, a tremendously popular new space for women only, is coming to Brooklyn
The Wing is flying into Brooklyn.
After a successful inaugural year in Manhattan’s Flatiron District, the women-only social club and co-working space is expanding to Soho, Washington D.C., and—in welcome news to the club’s Brooklyn-dwelling residents—a waterfront space at the Clocktower Building, cementing Dumbo’s status as a creative hub that happens to have the best views of the city.
Billed as a “throne away from home” for busy women, The Wing was founded by Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan as a quick pit stop for women shuttling between work and home, a place to do some work and maybe grab a healthy bite, yet has grown into a robust community with 700 members and an 8,000-person waitlist eager to pay the $215 monthly or $2,250 annual membership fees. That sense of community explains the need for a new location, set to open in January 2018.
What really sets The Wing apart from other co-working spaces is the sense of community—members can (and do) actually talk to each other, a foreign idea to anyone who’s slapped on headphones while grinding out an assignment at a WeWork desk, only removing their noise-canceling devices eight hours later. And unlike other social clubs including Soho House, which is also opening a new Dumbo outpost, The Wing isn’t cloistered—it’s exclusive without feeling exclusive, thanks to a cheeky social media presence that tears down its millennial pink walls and allows anyone a peek inside at the wide-open workspaces, curated library (female authors only, obviously), beauty room, and cafe that make The Wing an appealing backdrop for members’ creative projects. With 120,000 followers on Instagram and Twitter combined, it’s not hard to see how marketing played an important role in the club’s upward trajectory. Every “like” cements another future Wing woman.
As convenient as The Wing’s Flatiron location might be, moving to the freelancing haven of Brooklyn seems like a shrewd move. The 9,000 sq. ft. space in what was formerly Bubby’s restaurant (it closed in 2012; RIP delicious pie) has plans to represent the borough with wallpaper designed by Brooklyn-based Wing members Joana Avillez and Flat Vernacular. The announcement for the new space claims other Brooklyn-based Wing members include Tavi Gevinson, Zoe Kazan, Lena Dunham, and Emma Straub. The new locations come after an $8 million Series A round of funding, bringing their total to $10 million.
You might think a women’s-only club is a new conceit, born of glass-ceiling smashers and self-described nasty women. Nah. They’ve been around. According to The Wing’s historical “roots” documented online, the women’s club movement was formed in New York in the late 19th century by “pioneering women who provided each other with encouragement and community at a time when they needed it most.” Perhaps it’s too obvious to say this idea probably resonates with the group’s members who joined right around the last election. The original idea of women’s social clubs was to cultivate space outside of the home and roles of being a mother, to create a haven for women to be themselves and bat around socially progressive ideas. Not much has changed.
Unlike typical co-working spaces that can become ghost towns after happy hour, The Wing is usually bustling well into the night, with weeknight panels and gatherings that they often stream on their Instagram Stories. Recent and upcoming events include a discussion with the “Edit-hers in chief” of Teen Vogue and InStyle about the future of print, a Femmes in Films screening series, and a Friday morning yoga session.
The Wing also teamed up with Hulu for a partnership surrounding The Handmaid’s Tale, including a book club discussion and pre-premiere screening and chat with cast members. Advertisers who want to reach millennial women don’t have to look very far and collaborations could prove lucrative for the space, whose revenue is limited by its square footage—admit too many members and the calm getaway might become overrun. Luckily, those who are stuck in waitlist purgatory can noodle around the online shop selling “Internet Herstory” shirts, pins, stickers, merit badges, shoelaces, and more ephemera. But don’t get the wrong idea about all the pink and talk of sisterhood. As they say themselves, “We’re a coven, not a sorority.” Members range in age from 22 to in their 70s, according to Quartz, although leans heavily on the younger end of that spectrum.
The Wing will have good—or at least wealthy—company at the Clocktower Building, which last year became home to the most expensive condo sold in Brooklyn history. The penthouse went for $15 million and at 7,000-square-feet is nearly as big as The Wing’s ground-floor space, which might include private offices (not currently featured in the Flatiron space) and a restaurant. It’s hard not to compare The Wing’s growth potential to WeWork, the co-working originator that recently finished raising $760 million in a Series G funding round, valuing the company around $20 billion. They, too, stated with two locations during their inaugural year in 2010 and now have 156 offices around the world.
Co-founder Gelman, who lives in Carroll Gardens, sounds excited by the new possibilities for her burgeoning business. As she told the Wall Street Journal, “There’s something unique, a kinetic energy when large groups of women gather together,” she said. “For us, the vision is sort of like, if you are tired of hitting up against the glass ceiling, just build a whole new house.”
Well, first you cross back over the bridge—then you build the house.