Take a Tour of The Wing’s New Brooklyn Location With Co-Founder Audrey Gelman
The Wing, a network of co-working and community spaces for women, was invented in 2016 with the mission of creating “space for women to advance their pursuits and build community together.” Since that time, the explosion of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have only crystalized the need for more supportive spaces for women to work, organize, and connect—and founders Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan have been moving quickly to build out new locations, rustling up a whopping $32 million in Series B funding, led by WeWork, at the end of 2017 (for a total investment of more than $42 million). Now, Monday marks the opening of the third outpost for The Wing, this time in the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn.
Apartment Therapy took a sneak peek of the space, with Gelman leading the tour of the new location, located on 1 Main Street in the Clock Tower building and featuring views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline. Designed by the same all-female team behind The Wing Flatiron & SoHo—architect Alda Ly and interior designer, Chiara de Regewith—the interior is like the office of your Instagram dreams.
Quiet nooks, including secret phone rooms in the library walls, offer areas for members to focus on personal pursuits, while plush sofas in the main room are arranged to foster communication. A conversation pit in a bold emerald green, which Gelman says was inspired by Pinterest, takes you back to the 70s in the best way possible. Lights that hang like stars in the sky highlight the building’s tall ceilings and industrial feel. The floor of pink poured concrete creates contrast and dimension against the furniture covered in rich fabrics in palettes of burgundy, gold, greens and blues. The design is luxe, but cozy at the same time and makes you never want to leave.
The location offers members many of The Wing’s signature amenities, including a cafe and bar, beauty room, showers, lockers, meeting rooms, phone booths and a female-centric library. New benefits include a podcast room, wellness room, and vintage photo-booth.
(Membership, it should be noted, doesn’t come cheap—$215 monthly for one location or $250 for all access. Gelman told Apartment Therapy in a previous interview that inclusivity is a priority and that The Wing was investigating a tiered membership system based on career stage—check out the whole interview and SoHo tour here.)
The Wing has partnered again with The Strand Bookstore to curate an all-female lending library with more than 2,000 titles, which range from feminist theory to contemporary women’s fiction, and include a collection of new works from The Feminist Press, one of The Wing’s literary and programming partners.
Throughout the space, The Wing Dumbo features a gallery of works by prominent female artists curated by Wing member and collaborator Lolita Cros, this time in collaboration with Brooklyn-based gallery Picture Room.
While Dumbo’s version of The Wing boasts plenty of amenities and a beautiful design, it’s not just the aesthetics of the space that make it so appealing to members. Now more than ever, women are looking for outlets that foster female empowerment and promote positivity. As their website says, “magic is created when women gather together.” Through design, the space encourages members to have the types of conversations they might otherwise be afraid to have in a public place. And through those conversations, women may be able to make necessary changes in their lives and others. “Having a flock, in a sense, to be part of definitely makes [those changes] way less scary,” says Gelman.
We chatted with Gelman about how the space has brought women together, what the new location will provide for members, and where The Wing is headed next.
How does the Dumbo space directly relate to the community here?
We are working with a ton of Brooklyn based restaurants and food providers, so a new set of perks and collaborations with local business such as Books are Magic, Bird Brooklyn and other female owned business around here.
What design elements that foster a supportive female community have you incorporated into this space, that differ from the other locations?
Having a space you can use for exercise is something we’ve been getting a lot of requests for. We wanted to create a space that can be used that way and watch how people utilize it and see if it something we should do more of in our future spaces.
What kinds of conversations do you hope to foster in the conversation pit you’ve added to this space?
We definitely try to create, through architecture and design, spaces that feel like they encourage community. Spaces that feel warm, nurturing and affirming. The kinds of conversations we’re hoping to highlight in our programming are everything from what’s going on in the mid-terms to how to negotiate and how to navigate a work place and how to ensure that your workplace is safe and equitable—to harder conversations around infertility and things that women who are members are struggling with and connecting them with other members who are going though something similar. It really ranges from things that are going on in current events to things that are more personal.
Do you have examples of women who have achieved something great or connected together within The Wing?
Tons. It’s amazing. Our lawyer that we work with met another former sort of white shoe law firm associate who had quit that world. They both formed a law firm together and now they are being hired by every woman at The Wing who has a small business. Now they’re having to expand and hire more lawyers and now they have a real firm. We’ve heard from so many members that they have searched for other people who do something that they are looking to hire for in our member portal and contacted them and actually ended up hiring them. Tons of other women, who are founding start ups who have left their jobs and decided to take a big professional risk, have used The Wing community as a resource to do that. Having a flock, in a sense, to be part of definitely makes it way less scary. It has been great to watch this professional ecosystem that’s been forming and it doesn’t require you to navigate the world of men.
Where do you see The Wing in the next 5 years?
We’ve had a really busy year. We’ve gone from one to almost four locations. We launched a magazine. We’ve had over 300 events at The Wing that have been incredibly meaningful. Our ambitions are to keep growing the business and reaching as many women as possible. We want to be both all over the U.S. and even outside of it in different cities around the world.
Yes, that’s definitely next for us.
Is there anything you can share with us about the D.C. location?
Not yet, but it is going to be awesome. We’re really, really excited to be opening there.
Will there be events here that are specific to the Brooklyn outpost given its location by the water?
We’re doing a run club in our first month. Especially when it gets warmer there will be things to do both inside and outside of the space in the neighborhood.
What is your favorite thing about this space?
I love the secret doorways. I love the wallpaper and having amazing books by women looking down on us.
What else can you share about what’s going on at The Wing?
Something that members are definitely using, and that we are going to be expanding this year, is the digital member portal. It is a digital space where members all have profiles. You can look up other writers or other lawyers. We’re building a mobile app where members can message each other in app. There will be a lot of other great things members can tap into without physically being in The Wing.
This is a transcript of an interview by Charlotte Parker of Apartment Therapy with Audrey Gelman. Some of the questions have been edited for brevity and clarity.