Ms. Gevinson, additionally featured in No Man’s Land, was once to start with reluctant to sign up for the Wing. “I work from home, and that’s how I can almost justify my rent,” she mentioned. Then she went to talk over with the primary membership, which opened within the Flatiron district in October 2016: awash in millennial pink, with softly lit desks for operating, a good looks room for primping, a snack bar with coffees and natural granola, various artwork, a lactation room and a huge library of color-organized books written by way of and about women folk.
“The look of it is out of my dreams,” Ms. Gevinson mentioned. “It’s crazy that that place exists in real life. I joined right away.”
Over the process 18 months, the membership raised greater than $10 million from traders, maximum lately from a staff led by way of Tony Florence, a common spouse on the venture capital company NEA. He additionally backs Goop, the posh buying groceries website online Moda Operandi and Casper, the bed corporate. As a guy, he has been allowed to talk over with the Wing solely when individuals don’t seem to be provide.
”My talent to grasp the marketplace alternative and the will for this sort of trade extends past guy or lady,” Mr. Florence mentioned of his involvement. “It’s a very attractive financial model.”
What continues to be noticed is what sort of trade the larger Wing may well be: a locus of a mediacentric feminist motion, like Ms. within the 1970s, or a mass-scaled temple of “exclusivity,” like Soho House, if Soho House wrapped itself in a advertising and marketing banner of she-power.
In the Pink
Ms. Gelman, a former political press consultant who labored at the 2013 marketing campaign of the New York City comptroller Scott Stringer, helped encourage the nature Marnie at the tv display “Girls,” created by way of Lena Dunham. Native Manhattanites who met in formative years thru Ms. Gelman’s mom, who was once Ms. Dunham’s therapist, they was shut buddies at Oberlin College and have been avidly lined by way of the clicking as their stars rose in combination in younger maturity.
Ms. Gelman gave the impression on “Girls” a number of instances as Audrey, Marnie’s nemesis. Her romance with the fad photographer Terry Richardson was once smartly documented. Vanity Fair put her on its best-dressed list. Vogue covered her wedding to Ilan Zechory, a founding father of Genius, the song web page (Ms. Dunham was once a bridesmaid).
She were given the theory for her present challenge after you have a activity on the political consulting company SKDKnickerbocker, which has workplaces in SoHo and Washington. Commuting incessantly from her house in Brooklyn, Ms. Gelman longed for a position the place she may exchange her garments, take a bathe or kick back between conferences. She idea it may well be known as Refresh.
But “Refresh is such a bad name,” she mentioned remaining week, sitting at a spherical marble desk in a red convention room with Ms. Kassan; their partnership started on the recommendation of Ms. Kassan’s husband. “It sounds like a vaginal douche product.”
“I think it might be,” mentioned Ms. Kassan, who up to now labored in boutique health, because the director of industrial building for ClassPass and for the studio corporate SLT. Experienced in operations and network control, she is the “back of the house” spouse to Ms. Gelman’s frontwoman.
Earlier traders integrated Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler, who based SoulCycle, and Susan Lyne, the managing spouse of BBG Ventures, previously of Gilt Groupe and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
“We like Audrey and we liked Audrey’s conviction that women wanted to be with other women, in a safe place that was also beautiful,” Ms. Lyne mentioned in a telephone interview. “Audrey said, ‘I’ve changed in a Starbucks bathroom one too many times.’”
By the spring of 2016, they discovered a three,500-square-foot house at the 12th ground of a constructing on East 20th Street to hire, and employed an all-female workforce — Alda Ly, an architect, and Chiara de Rege and Hilary Koyfman, internal designers — to understand their imaginative and prescient. Ms. Koyfman described the look of the Wing to Domino mag as “kind of like ‘Mad Men’ — without the men.” The Wing additionally started to paintings on branding with a women-only design workforce from Pentagram. Ms. Gelman took fee of social-media advertising and marketing. (“We’re a coven, not a sorority” is how she describes the Wing on Instagram.)
For its founding club of 200 women folk, Ms. Gelman and Ms. Kassan tapped their networks: media execs, marketers and artists, now and again bartering club, which then price $2,100 a 12 months, for services and products. There was once a direct ready checklist.
When the membership opened, the Wingers, like many ladies across the nation, have been expecting a historical election of the primary feminine president of the United States. When that didn’t happen, the founders mentioned, the distance took on new urgency.
“We had the expectation that we would have the first women president and it would be the golden age of feminism and women get to have rooms like these as a result of that momentum,” Ms. Gelman mentioned. “Very quickly overnight it went to feeling a little protective.”
Ms. Kassan and Ms. Gelman mentioned they started listening to from their individuals that along side up to now deliberate choices like classes in flower association, breakfasts themed to indicators of the zodiac and panels on information subjects, they have been enthusiastic about programming and occasions that desirous about women folk’s rights and politics. And so the founders scheduled occasions like “Workshop on Anxiety & Depression in a Post-Trump World,” “A Night of Interfaith Sisterhood for Jews and Muslims” and “A Conversation With Senator Kirsten Gillibrand,” all of that have been smartly attended.
They arranged buses to take individuals to and from the Women’s March in Washington, the place the red hats happily coordinated with the de Rege-Koyfman coloration scheme.
A couple of months after the Wing opened, “Girls” integrated a plotline that includes a women-only membership in New York. In Ms. Dunham’s telling, the membership was once known as Wemun (“Women Entrepreneurs Meet Up Now”) and one of the most women folk working a assembly there mentioned, “Whether it’s how to rock a romper at a work event or who you should be voting for, a Wemun woman is the person to ask.”
This episode was once despatched to critics and writers earlier than it aired. After The Cut printed an editorial, “Did Lena Dunham Shade the Wing on ‘Girls?’” Ms. Dunham instructed the reporter that any resemblance to the Wing or Ms. Gelman was once unintended and he or she trimmed the scene.
To two marketers seeking to make a trade out of supporting women folk’s careers, although, the funny story looked as if it would have landed with a thud. Ms. Gelman stopped following Ms. Dunham on Instagram for months, till this week. (“Friends fight, friends make up, life is long,” Ms. Gelman mentioned.)
“It’s like a ‘Sex and the City’ of today,” Ms. Kassan mentioned of “Younger,” “and it’s like we were a pretend thing on ‘Sex and the City,’ which is awesome.”
The Plumber, and Other Conundrums
Back if truth be told, the around-the-block line in SoHo comprised women folk who had simply been named individuals, allowed into the brand new house earlier than present individuals.
The initiates grouped round tarot-card readers, political/feminist slogan button-making stations, a potion-making desk and a sales space for voter registration. There was once meals, wine and big Rice Krispie treats within the form of the Wing’s W brand. The scene had the entire awkward pleasure of a new-student mixer at a women folk’s school.
Mandi Nyambi, 24, sat on a sofa by way of herself. Ms. Nyambi, who works for a virtual platform, is a type of who can pay $three,000 according to 12 months for get right of entry to to the entire golf equipment. “If I tried to get a co-working space elsewhere, it would cost about the same and I would miss out on the value proposition of the wealth of having this network of other women,” she mentioned. She is hoping that once the events end, the Wing really might be a position for paintings and critical connection. “I’m a little overwhelmed,” she mentioned.
Margit Detweiler, a 50-year-old new member, was once status again, beholding the group. She joined the Wing, she mentioned, as a result of she lives in Brooklyn and desires “a pit stop” in Manhattan. “How often are you in a space like this with all women?” mentioned Ms. Detweiler, the founding father of the TueNight, a web based mag and reside occasions corporate for ladies over 40. “The energy is palpable.” (The Wing’s founders say they’re seeking to build up non-millennial club.)
Ms. Gelman and Ms. Kassan have been milling concerning the celebration and greeting new individuals. Ms. Gelman was once sporting a Red Bull and iPhone. Ms. Kassan was once sporting in utero her first kid, due in January. It were a lengthy week of 18-hour-on-their-feet paintings days main as much as the hole. They didn’t also have time to head house to get in a position for the celebration; they’d primped, naturally, within the Wing’s good looks room stuffed with Chanel merchandise.
Brands are actually paying the membership for advertising and marketing get right of entry to to individuals. Earlier this autumn, every member gained a giant bottle of Chanel fragrance within the mail. Hulu subsidized a “Handmaid’s Tale” match on the Flatiron membership, for which Margaret Atwood, the e book’s writer, made a particular video.
Thanks partly to such enticements, some individuals infrequently depart. Scarlett Curtis, 22, is the Gen-Z columnist for The Sunday Times of London and a pupil at New York University. She discovered concerning the Wing after following Ms. Gelman on Instagram. Her oldsters paid for the primary six months, and he or she says she will pay the dues herself now.
Ms. Curtis is so incessantly on the Wing that after she complains to her father that she doesn’t have a boyfriend, he says, “Stop hanging out at the Wing all the time.” He’s simply jealous that he can’t talk over with the distance, Ms. Curtis mentioned, remembering with amusement the day a male plumber visited and an worker charged with community-building “told every member there was a man coming into the space.”
Ms. Gelman and Ms. Kassan say they are trying to rent and fee women folk for each and every provider the corporate wishes, however that now and again it’s maximum vital to appear past gender.
“Our electrician isn’t a woman,” Ms. Kassan mentioned within the convention room.
Ms. Gelman mentioned, “It’s also one of those things where it has to work as a business.”
As at a gymnasium, Ms. Kassan will pay specific consideration to utilization patterns of individuals to trace what individuals of what professions and ages come to the distance at what time. She and Ms. Gelman then imagine who may fill within the gaps (they want to have extra individuals who’re medical doctors, for instance), in addition to demographics together with faith, race, sexual orientation and gender identity, amongst others. Internally, they check with the method as “minority-led membership.”
“We do ask members to send us one social media profile just so we can understand more about them,” Ms. Gelman mentioned.
Raven Stralow, 33, works with addicts and their households, and he or she additionally owns along with her husband a farm in upstate New York. She was once having many conferences in Manhattan and started to comparison-shop co-working areas. She checked out Ludlow House however idea the folks appeared too conspicuously hip. She appeared into WePaintings however didn’t just like the culture of ingesting she heard about. She noticed the Wing on Instagram and carried out, considering she wouldn’t get in. “I don’t have a ton of Instagram followers, I don’t have a curated anything,” Ms. Stralow mentioned.
But she was once authorized briefly, and has felt very relaxed there. “I’m a woman of color and I wear my hair natural,” she mentioned. The good looks room on the Wing comprises merchandise and combs that go well with her hair. “There always seems to be an effort of inclusion,” she mentioned.
There are demanding situations to this effort. Along with the club charges, there are fees of $30 according to hour for semiprivate paintings rooms and for the snack bar’s meals, espresso and wine (no out of doors meals is authorized within). This limits the industrial range of club.
Ms. Kassan and Ms. Gelman are delicate to complaint of elitism and mentioned they plan to announce a scholarship program subsequent 12 months. “It was never my goal to go into business to begin with and certainly not to go into business to create a product for the uber-wealthy, and I don’t think it is,” Ms. Gelman mentioned.
The Wing could also be within the fascinating place of selling a women-only corporate at a second when the innovative forces in American tradition are pushing for a much less binary, extra fluid interpretation of gender, as evinced by way of Ms. Nef’s presence at the quilt of No Man’s Land.
If a particular person carried out for club who appeared like a guy however mentioned he known as a lady, Ms. Gelman mentioned they might most probably take a look at the individual’s social media feeds and search for different indications of the individual “living as a woman,” she mentioned. They have appeared to girls’s schools for steering on assemble their insurance policies. Barnard College, for instance, stipulates that it “will consider for admission those applicants who consistently live and identify as women.”
But it’s a staple of such schools’ English curriculums, Virginia Woolf, whose guiding specter nonetheless hovers over the undertaking. “We still believe women deserve spaces of their own,” Ms. Gelman mentioned.