Wealth

Resurrecting The Women’s Club Movement

From an airy penthouse in New York's Flatiron District, this women's only co-working space and social club has expanded into a multi-million dollar global business.

By Emily J. Brooks

Wealth

From an airy penthouse in New York's Flatiron District, this women's only co-working space and social club has expanded into a multi-million dollar global business.

By Emily J. Brooks

Sporn out of a dual frustration from changing in Starbucks bathrooms and men’s advances in co-working spaces, Audrey Gelman conceptualised The Wing, a women-only co-working space and social club. With hopes of resurrecting the women’s club movement which gained traction in New York during the turn of the 20th century, Gelman joined forces with Lauren Kassan, who quickly left fitness startup ClassPass for the venture.

The pair launched The Wing’s first location in New York’s Flatiron district in 2016. The 12th-floor airy penthouse filled with pastel-hued interiors, a feminist library, beauty room and cafe remains physical proof The Wing doesn’t stop with desks. There’s a pump room for early mothers and ‘freak out’ room for the overwhelmed. New York women swiftly jumped aboard the concept with more than 200 founding members including writer and director Lena Dunham, Glossier CEO Emily Weiss, and rapper Remy Ma, plus a 1300 person waitlist. Members now pay US$215 monthly; an annual total of US$2350.

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Prior to The Wing, Gelman had a successful political public relations career, with roles at PR powerhouse firm SKDKnickerbocker and NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office. Raising capital wasn’t on her resume, so she quickly purchased Fundraising for Dummies and googled ‘how to make a deck’ before the pair embarked on the search for seed funding. Gelman and Kassan, both 30, have noted raising capital as young women wasn’t initially an easy feat, as most men failed to grasp the concept.

“It’s always hard, especially when your product is geared toward women and you are a woman, to convince a community that’s made up of mostly men that you have a good idea,” Gelman told The Observer. Two men who did get it though included Equinox CEO Harvey Spevak and tech billionaire Steve Case, contributing to the $2.4 million Gelman and Kassan raised in the five months prior to launching. Female investors, who made up the majority of seed investment, included SoulCycle founders Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler, and Birchbox co-founder Hayley Barna.

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Founded is a series featuring female-founded startups going places. Meet the women driven by creativity and innovation. Listen up, wisdom awaits.

You’ve hit the glass ceiling. And our paywall.

Help us smash it by becoming a Future Woman for as little as $4 a month.

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