With the Time’s Up movement and gender inequality grabbing headlines across the world, there’s never been a better time for female entrepreneurs to step into the limelight. Women-only coworking spaces are springing up to nurture this new generation of innovators in creative environments that help them thrive.
Female coworking spaces are more plentiful in the US but a ripple effect is happening in other countries like the UK, where women-only clubs are bursting onto the scene in London as an antidote to gentlemen’s clubs.
Creating micro-economies for the entrepreneurs who inhabit them, these spaces are championing a new work-life balance for women. Here are five of the best.
The Wing, New York and DC
Founded by Lauren Kassan and Audrey Gelman in 2016, The Wing is a contemporary take on the women’s club movement that took hold of New York in the 19th and 20th century. ‘Women’s clubs played a pivotal role in at certain times of social and political change, specifically around suffrage,’ says Gelman. ‘Here we are 100 years later, amidst times of social and political change – we hope to be a resource and a haven for women living today.’
The duo enlisted an all-female design team of architect Alda Ly and interior designers Chiara de Rege and Hilary Koyfman to create their first Flatiron space, which Koyman described as ‘kind of like Mad Men – without the men’.
Conceived as a ‘coven, not a sorority,’ its outposts are drenched in ‘Wing pink’ crafted for a social-media savvy clientele that includes rapper Remy Ma, Rookie magazine founder Tavi Gevinson and the transgender actress and Gucci model Hari Nef. (The Wing has many trans members including whistleblower Chelsea Manning and, according to reports, it current has a waiting list includes 8,000).
The Wing has now grown to three New York spaces – its latest opening in Dumbo last month – with a new DC outpost slated for spring. Coworking giant WeWork recently announced it will be leading a $32m investment in the company, with more women’s coworking spaces on the horizon.
As well as flexible workspaces, The Wing offers an extensive programme of events (including a recent talk called ‘Fuck Harvey Weinstein’), yoga and wellness classes, a library of all-female authors, cafe, and amenities like lactation rooms and showers.
Best for: Creatives in the media
Cost: Membership starts from $215* per month
Where: Flatiron, Soho, Dumbo and DC
The AllBright, London
‘A woman must have money and a room of her own,’ wrote Virginia Woolf in her seminal feminist manifesto A Room of One’s Own. This statement is at the core of new London women’s member’s club and coworking space The AllBright, which launches today in Bloomsbury. Its name is inspired by former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, who said: ‘There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support other women.’
An offshoot of the women-led funding initiative of the same name, The AllBright is less a formal coworking space and more a place to host meetings, socialise, collaborate and network.
‘Quite often when you have a mixed environment, men tend to dominate discussions and women tend to hold back,’ says cofounder Anna Jones. ‘In a female environment, women are more likely to speak up, share experiences, talk about their successes, and be a bit more open and honest about some of the challenges that they face – because frankly, it’s quite hard to be the only woman in the room.’
The AllBright is set within a five-storey Georgian townhouse with interiors designed by studio No.12. It offers workspace, meeting rooms as well as treatment rooms for relaxation, meditation and therapeutic treatments. (Founding member and Sky News anchor Sarah-Jane Mee quipped to the FT, ‘You can be a feminist and still enjoy a blow dry and yoga.’) Also on the menu is a curated list of events, debates and networking opportunities for female entrepreneurs, creatives and consultants.
Best for: Established professionals who’ve already hit their stride
Cost: Membership starts at £750 (knock off £100 if you’re under 27) and there’s a joining fee of £300
Where: 11 Rathbone Place, London
The Riveter, Seattle
The Riveter is a female-forward coworking space founded by NASA Space Camp and NYU law graduate Amy Nelson. Its name evokes the image of feminist icon Rosie the Riveter, who inspired women across the US to take up their tools during WWII to keep the front supplied – and the economy booming.
The Seattle coworking provider opened its first 11,000 sq ft Capitol Hill space in May, and its first LA outpost is slated to open in spring 2018. All put wellness first, with daily yoga and barre classes and a 5pm meditation session to formally end the day. ‘We try to build a space that’s reflective of the way women work,’ says Nelson.
Unlike some women’s coworking spaces, men are welcome at female-focussed The Riveter. Says Nelson: ‘Our goal was to change the dynamic for women entrepreneurs and business owners and I feel very strongly that to do that you have to involve all genders in the conversation or nothing will ever change.’
Best for: working moms and wellness-conscious women
Cost: $375 for a floating desk, with a dedicated desk priced at $400 per month. Private workspaces start from $750 per month.
Where: Capitol Hill, Bellevue, LA (coming soon)
Make Lemonade, Toronto
Toronto boasts several female-only coworking spaces, but Make Lemonade is the newest and most design savvy. ‘We’re on a mission to create a community of driven women who create, dream and get.sh*t.done,’ they say. They do this from a yellow and pink infused workspace in the city’s downtown core.
Make Lemonade is the brainchild of freelancer Rachel Kelly, who struck upon the idea for the hub after growing frustrated with working from coffee shops. ‘I created Make Lemonade because, as a freelancer, the struggle of not having a home base was real,’ says Kelly. ‘I was tired of hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop with dodgy Wi-Fi and limited seating. My mission was to create an office space that lived inside my imagination.’
Studio MMNT Design crafted the interiors for the 3,000 sq ft-space, which does welcome male identified visitors – so long as they relate to the space’s feminist values.
Best for: young entrepreneurs who want flexible membership packages
Cost: Drop-in sessions from $25 for ‘just a squeeze’, while a whole lemon will set you back $500 per month
Where: 326 Adelaide Street West, Toronto
We Heart Mondays, London
‘Men-only clubs have been going for centuries,’ says We Heart Mondays cofounder Layla Rivelino. Her women’s coworking space in Hackney is a riposte to the boys clubs of yore set inside a minimalist DIY space in East London.
‘Hackney Wick is a creative and ethnically diverse area,’ says Rivelino. ‘I’m a black female entrepreneur so it was important that the space was in an area easily accessible to other women like me.’
Catering primarily for women in the creative industries, We Heart Mondays is on the smaller end of the scale and is priced for inclusiveness, with membership options starting from just £25 per month. Members include PRs, influencers and journalists, and the space moonlights as an event hire space.
Best for: Diversity, WOC, close-knit relationships
Cost: from £25 for a flexi-pass; £70 for a luxe-pass (their £10 day pass lets you bring a girlfriend along for free)
Where: Hackney Wick, London