A popular women’s social club is coming to Boston.
On Wednesday, The Wing announced on Instagram that it plans to open a new location here in 2019. The trendy co-working space will occupy approximately 10,500 square feet at 699 Boylston St. in the Back Bay. Stretching across two penthouse floors, the club will include amenities such as showers, conference rooms and a lactation room.
The announcement was greeted with a flush of excitement on social media. Followers were quick to scoop up the six promotional bookmarks hidden in bookstores around town for a chance to win a year’s free membership to the club.
The Wing CEO Audrey Gelman said that Boston was chosen as a location in response to requests from followers on social media. “The women of Boston made their voices heard,” she said. “We heard them loud and clear.”
The Wing was co-founded in 2016 by Gelman, a former Hillary Clinton staffer, and Lauren Kassan in New York’s Flatiron District. Inspired by the women’s social clubs that flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, its stated mission is “the advancement of women through community.” Membership is open to women and non-binary individuals, but not men. Members gain access to an exclusive space where they can work, relax, snack and — perhaps most importantly — network.
“It’s so important that we have accelerators and incubators of professional activity among women, where we can hire each other, help each other, start businesses together, support each other’s projects,” Gelman said. “That, we believe, is one of the key advantages of having spaces that are women-focused.”
Since its inception, The Wing — which counts more than 6,000 members — has opened locations in the DUMBO and SoHo neighborhoods of New York as well as Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. In addition to Boston, the company plans to expand to Hollywood, London, Toronto, Seattle and Chicago.
The Wing’s success dovetails with the rise of the gig economy and women’s collaborative workspaces. It also heralds a new breed of entrepreneurship, one that leverages progressive politics to create hip brands that resonate with millennials. Celebrity Wing members include the actor and writer Lena Dunham (a childhood friend of Gelman’s), the model Hari Nef and the editor and author Tavi Gevinson. The Wing has boasted sponsorships from the likes of Chanel and American Express.
But Gelman says The Wing’s politics are more than just smart branding. The company has publicly aligned itself with progressive causes, like the anti-sexual-harassment campaign Time’s Up, and supported lefty candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “I think that any company that’s credibly looking to have a voice in women’s empowerment has to be willing to engage around political topics,” Gelman said, “And willing to either take a stand or to encourage the people around them to get involved.”
Membership to The Wing costs between $2,350 and $2,700 annually. Gelman said that details were being finalized for the Boston location’s scholarship program, which would likely consist of 100 free two-year memberships. Such spots are usually awarded to applicants working in the non-profit sector, advocacy and education, Gelman said.
Asked how the club planned to ensure diversity among its Boston ranks, Gelman said that the company had a full-time team devoted to diversity and inclusion, mainly focused on recruitment and outreach.