When I first saw a post in my Twitter feed mentioning The Wing, New York's new members-only social and professional club for women, I immediately started strategizing as to how I could get in.
The space is part of a cultural phenomenon dating back to the 1900's, where pioneering women would meet and exchange ideas in social and work clubs. You have to be accepted to become a member, so there's an alluring sense of exclusivity.
I pitched the idea of spending a day there and writing about my experience. My editors gave me the green light.
My takeaway? I enjoyed the experience. It's clear that the founders, Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan, are smart, determined businesswomen who want to help other women by creating a fun and safe space for them. I just wish the results weren't so pink and pricey.
When the elevators opened on the top floor, I was immediately struck by how beautiful the space was. The books on the bookshelf are arranged by the color of the cover. The milk-and-sugar cart is made of see-through plastic, so it easily blends into the peach-and-cream decor.
Just past the main work area, there's a beauty and primping room with blow-dryers, hair straighteners and even face masks. In the bathroom, there's Olay hand cream and face mist on either side of the faucets.
The toilet paper holder is plated gold.
At first I loved this. Who wouldn't want a free spritz of expensive body spray or a free perfume sample? But after about an hour, it made me a little uncomfortable.
I thought, "What if I wanted to come into work in sneakers? What if I didn't feel like wearing makeup or blow-drying my hair today?" The woman sitting across from me literally runs a fashion blog and is trying to guess what type of leather shoe her friend is wearing.
I get it: If I don't want to dress like the stylish women around me, then that's my prerogative. Nobody's forcing me to, right? I could stroll right on in, commuter shoes and all, and the women would probably accept me.
But surrounded by successful women dressed to a T, I might want to keep up. For some women, dressing beautifully and feeling confident comes easily. Some days that's me. Many days, it's not.
I'm pretty simple: I like getting s--- done. I also like not always having to look good while doing it.
If the atmosphere of the whole place were a little less pink, and by that I mean a little less traditionally feminine, maybe I'd feel more comfortable. Some days I like to wear heels and earrings. Other days I like to wear over-sized collared shirts and ugly sneakers.
The founders of The Wing welcome women of all backgrounds, including transgender women. That's awesome and important.
But the decor still feels kind of 1950s. And as a working woman who dislikes the "pink tax, " I want little to do with that era.
The Wing's clientele are important and determined women, which is something I love. I met a bunch of interesting women while there. A PR professional building her own company invited me to a gallery event. I chatted with a food stylist about the freelancing market.
The Wing's event lineup includes everything from political discussions to hair-braiding events. I would check those out and probably get to meet more fascinating people. So when it comes to facilitating networking, The Wing hits it out of the park.
That was a major pull for me.
I realized that I'm a person who needs a relatively quiet space to get work done. Difficult articles, in-depth interviews, these are things I need to concentrate on. Hearing great music like Haim or not-so-great music like Ariana Grande was equally distracting, if for different reasons. The main work area is an open floor plan, so there's no real quiet options, except the phone booth which I was told could double as a crying space. (That made me cringe a little.)
I could've worn headphones, but sometimes you just don't want to drown out music with music.
I'm the kind of person who likes the convenience of making my own tea every morning and packing a snack. That also saves me money.
At The Wing, members aren't allowed to bring in food, and there's no refrigerator or microwave. All food is prepared and sold through a cafe that partners with the club. I get the business reason for that; it's also why you can't bring your bagged lunch into a restaurant. But if this is supposed to be a home away from home, I want to be able to pack a snack or reheat a meal.
Over the course of my day, I spent about $20 on food, which included a coffee, a salad, and a side of tuna. The cost is just under $2,000 a year or $185 per month, which is cheaper than a lot of other co-working spaces. But my monthly expenses for my gym membership ($50) and groceries ($120) combined are still cheaper.
If there were a drop-in rate where you spend say a small amount to work at the space for a few days, I would totally join. I'm not sure about the price tag as is, however. I don't think I could justify spending the $185 a month on a membership. My student loans would get jealous.
Overall, The Wing is fun and exciting, especially if you're the type of woman who enjoys the Instagram-worthy vibe. If you like it every so often and have the money for a membership, I'd say join. I just don't fall into either of those two categories. The founders of The Wing are smart, determined businesswomen who want to help other women, and for that, I do support their endeavor, even if it may not be for me.