When Danielle Alvarez returns to the ward In Soho last summer, she saw the writing on the elegant and perfectly lit mint green wall.
“I walked into the space and was in shock at how much he died… He was always so busy. You can’t get a seat,” said the 33-year-old, who enthusiastically paid nearly $3,000 in start-up fees to join the suite in 2018. .
“Seeing it go from expanding, to not having anyone in space that afternoon during office hours was shocking,” said Alvarez, founder and CEO of the media agency. The Bonita Projectadded.
When The Wing first opened its doors on Flatiron in 2016 as a leading women-only co-working space, it became a phenomenon. Founders Audrey Gilman and Lauren Cassan have raised more than $100 million from investors such as WeWork and Airbnb. At its peak, it had 11 locations across New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago, a 9000 people waiting list – Plus the power of superstar fans like Jennifer Lopez and Meryl Streep. Gilman, former press secretary for the Information Service Scott Stringer – Also known for being childhood best friends with “Girls” creator Lena Dunham and as ex-girlfriend of fashion photography Terry Richardson – she became a celebrity in her own right. In 2019, at the age of 31, she decorated the cover of Inc. , to become The first woman to appear pregnant on the cover of a business magazine.
But things took an abrupt turn the following year. In June 2020, Gilman resigned after employees protested her leadership and alleged mistreatment of black and brown employees. It was the beginning of the end. Earlier this week, Wing members received an email announcing that the club’s remaining six sites would be closed due to “increasing global economic challenges” and the “background of the Covid pandemic.” For many of the former members, the news came as no surprise – with some feeling it was a misfortune.
“It was a very toxic environment for my team,” Kanissa Texe, a member of the ward in 2018 and founder of TS Collective for marketing and public relations, told The Post. “It was all a PR machine. You can hire all the black, Hispanic, and white women you want, but if you’re not creating a culture appropriately, it’s going to fall apart. I think it’s become a huge sensation on women’s empowerment.”
The Strict rules In the club, which costs members $185 to $200 per month, it hasn’t always boosted #GirlBoss’ success, especially for those who use it as a daily co-working space.
“I would get frustrated that you weren’t allowed to bring food outside — if you worked eight hours a day there, you wouldn’t even be able to bring your lunch, which is ridiculous to me,” Alvarez recalls.
“I remember getting into it as a manager, like, ‘Why are you making me buy food every day?'” “Obviously, men weren’t allowed for a long time and that was a bit embarrassing because one of my first clients was a man and I couldn’t even host meetings there,” she continued, adding that the community felt “elitist.”
Texe said she was nervous about employees who often asked her to lower her voice during calls and in meetings in her office. She was eventually asked to waive her membership after a worker said she had offended an employee for using the term “house girl” in a nice, friendly context.
Still others believe the winger never recovered from the 2020 scandal that led to Gilman’s downfall.
“After everything that happened in 2020, I had no desire to renew,” said Alvarez, who now resides in Bushwick.
Stacy Stewart, 33, a software engineer from Gramercy, fondly relives her Wing experience, noting that she’s never seen any irregularities at Flatiron. However, the reports have made her restless.
I think the allegations were shocking. Especially for a place that was really advocating for inclusivity and advancement in the workplace and things like that.
But she adds that Gilman may have been unfairly targeted. “In general, women-led companies are under a microscope — especially in a place that advocates inclusivity,” she explained.
Another recent reversal has been the lackluster list of events that didn’t meet Wing’s pre-pandemic criteria.
“For me, it has always been a networked organization, not a co-working organization,” said Stewart, who joined in 2018 seeking to meet other women amid her male-dominated industry. I initially enjoyed the organization’s enriching lineup of extracurricular activities, from “summer camp” in the Adirondacks to intense conversations on Instagram featuring famous authors such as Lori Gottlieb, who discussed one of her favorite books “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone.”
But, when she noticed that the 2021 Wing roster looked less exciting than it did before, Stewart did not renew her membership.
With the announcement of the pavilion’s closing, many are pointing out that it’s not the supposed educational talks or supportive community they will miss. Thoughtfully curated furniture—from armchairs designed by Hans Wegener to a green velvet conversation pit—is such that people are so distressed, some are even reaching out to the company about purchasing the pieces. Perhaps it was fitting that Gilman launched a homeware store outside of Brooklyn earlier this year.
“With all the sparkle and luster and luxurious furniture – that was the real highlight,” Alvarez said. “I used to use the space to take pictures, but it no longer does that for me.”