In shooting our September cover, we wanted to shoot in a space that celebrates the entrepreneur parent. Ashley Wu founded Maison, a members club designed for women where work and wellness meet. In this space, members can connect, work, chill, or all of the above.
We chatted with Ashley on Maison and being open after the pandemic.
Maison is unique in that there is no other workspace like it; what prompted you to open Maison?
Thank you for the kind words! Maison was born out of a need I had for a space and community. I realized in my version of balance and wholeness I needed to be able to touch and feel close to all the parts of my life: work, family, me. And I had to make adjustments and sacrifices in order to pursue that level of balance. I had conversations all the time with women pondering and seeking a way to make their lives easier yet more fulfilling. But there wasn’t a place to come together when we needed a cup of coffee, a printer, a bathroom, etc. Designing Maison in my head during the early phases, I let myself envision how a space and community might allow others to feel more grounded and whole. Maison might not serve all members the same, and that’s sort of the point. I don’t necessarily know what everyone needs, but I will support their pursuit to find it.
Can you share how the space nourishes and supports its members?
After I had my second child in 2017, so many phases of life were intersecting – career, relationships, family, and it’s easily overwhelming. I missed thinking time, quiet time, reading — and I wanted Maison to be the place for the so-called, non-productive activities in addition to more traditional work. In my opinion, our culture has linked productivity and value in an unhealthy way. We have been messaged that if you’re not producing something – a new business, more revenue streams, more hours behind a computer – you have less value. Our society has a hard time qualifying value outside of jobs that “make sense” and dollar amounts. And as a conscientious mother, an active community member, a thoughtful friend, I know these roles matter even though I don’t get paid for them. I have filled Maison with soft furniture, healthful food, and nourishing programming that doesn’t leave you feeling depleted or like you’re not doing enough. You show up as you. And that is enough. Our incredible staff knows everyone by name, engages with and encourages their projects, and celebrates their personal endeavors along the way. I believe the beautiful texture of our lives come from the time spent discovering ourselves and getting in touch with who we really are. And what I have learned is that this level of introspection is really hard to do at home.
What changes has Maison made in light of COVID?
Since March 2020, I knew Maison would never be the same. We were mandated to be closed for five months. These months were stressful, and so much uncertainty made it hard to want to continue at times. Deep down in my gut, I knew Maison was going to be even more necessary after the pandemic (which we haven’t reached yet). In addition to the physical changes we made to our space to comply with city and state COVID protocols, we reopened with more flexible membership plans. Introducing daily and month-to-month memberships have allowed more people access to Maison during a time when working from home leads to feelings of isolation, less creativity, and even burnout. Not to mention for our members with families and children at home, Maison was their ultimate getaway to reclaim some quiet and respite. While the changes have been necessary, I’m very excited to re-introduce in-person programming in September.
Maison is located at 1264 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10028, 917-463-3888
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