If you’re a #MillennialMom in New York City, chances are that you are familiar with the Wing. Founded two years ago by CEO Audrey Gelman (former deputy communications director for Scott Stringer’s comptroller campaign) and COO Lauren Kassan (whose background is in business development in the fitness industry), the Wing is a chic and buzz-worthy network of membership-based work and community spaces designed especially for women, with locations in the Flatiron District, SoHo, and DUMBO, as well as in San Francisco and Washington DC.
Set against soothing hues of millennial pink, goldenrod, and mint, the Wing’s spaces offer a myriad of services aimed at empowering its membership of modern working women—for example: Fully stocked beauty rooms, high-powered conference rooms, breast pumping rooms, a café with an all-female kitchen staff, a library of books by, for, and about inspiring women—and as of now, with the launch of the Little Wing in their SoHo flagship space on Mercer Street, on January 30, that list of services includes childcare and parenting support.
“The big Wing is a network of women-focused co-working and community spaces… It’s really a space for women to work and meet and support one another. We have all different types of programming and events, as well as a workspace,” Kassan, who is a new mom herself (her son Quincy is 1) explains. “So many of our members have children or are thinking about having children, so it was really important to us to provide something to make their lives easier and create communities.”
On the surface, the Little Wing is a childcare facility and service for members of the Wing with kids ages 6 months to 9 years—it will offer babysitting in two-hour time slots with the company’s Wingsitters ($25); children’s enrichment classes in art, theater, yoga, and more ($28); and open play ($25) sessions—but it goes beyond what the typical childcare drop-off or playspace provides. Most notably, the Little Wing will also offer parent support groups and workshops with an emphasis on creating connections and community among working moms. It’s this commitment to serving the whole family that Kassan is especially proud of.
“I have a baby—he’s 1—so when we were thinking of what the now-Little Wing would be, we weren’t really sure how it would take shape and for us, [it was about] really learning from our members and what they want from a space like this,” she says. “For me personally, going through the early times of motherhood, I really wanted to understand how we could create that space of convenience so our members can drop their kids off here, get work done, take their meeting, and have some quiet time—but also [create a space] of community for our members. I think that we [as women] are taking care of other people all the time so we [at the Wing] want our members to know that we’re taking care of them in those moments too.”
The parent support groups and workshops will be updated monthly, and will be offered in partnership with Gelman’s mother Lisa Spiegel, the co-founder of SoHo Parenting (founded in 1987 and widely considered to be the first parenting center in Manhattan). For the moment, there will be a regular open mother’s group (to take place in the morning) as well as topic-based workshops (which will take place in the evenings to accommodate parents who work on a more traditional schedule).
“[Lisa Spiegel] is going to be overseeing a lot of our workshops and support circles based on varying topics—everything from potty-training to co-parenting to queer parenting—and making sure they’re incredibly thoughtful and intentional for a diverse group of parents,” Kassan says.
The goals of intentional community building are echoed by Spiegel as well. “It’s sort of a ‘circle of life’ kind of thing because [my daughter] Audrey was an infant when I was starting my business, and it grew over the past 30 years to provide high quality counseling and support services and community to parents and families in New York City,” she explains. “So it was so exciting to be a part of the launch of the Little Wing and help the Wing not just support mothers who are working by providing childcare—which is essential and amazing, to be able to work and know your child is close by and feel comfortable with the quality of the care—but also to provide ways to support families that they grow, in similar ways to how we’ve been supporting families at SoHo Parenting for over 30 years.”
One of the ways that Kassan and Spiegel hope to foster support with their programming for parents is to help the mothers of the Wing feel confident in casting off the pressures of perfection that can come across in social media and the societal stereotype of what a working parent should look like.
“The focus of the ongoing mother’s group [at the Little Wing] is really to be a safe space to talk about the realities of motherhood rather than the curated Instagram version of motherhood that really is, in essence, a tyranny,” Spiegel says. “There has always been pressure on women to be perfect and to do everything and to present that ‘I’ve got it together’ face, but it’s never been there as much as it is now. So the idea [is to have] a space that combats the physical isolation that sometimes women have in parenting, but also that sense of sort of cyber-loneliness. The idea that there’s all this information and expectations that are just bombarding women? This is the antidote to that.”
The Little Wing space itself is physically very bright and inviting, and certainly an antidote in and of itself to the bustle of the city streets outside. The color scheme echoes that of the big Wing and all the furnishings are from Crate&kids. There’s a big playroom stocked with plush beanbags and toys aimed at sparking imaginative play, as well as a library of kids’ books curated by Brooklyn bookshop Stories. Plus, there’s on-brand mommy-and-me merch for sale, and a café called Perch on the Fly (the big Wing’s café is called Perch) in the works that will serve a grab and go for moms picking up or dropping off their kiddos.
“Perch on the Fly will be our grab and go. There will be kids’ bowls and kids’ meals,” Kassan says. “They were all crowdsourced from our members and we learned what their kids liked to eat and made recipes based on that, and they’re named after [members’ kids]. There’s a Quincy bowl for my son—which is spinach, quinoa, and chicken.”
As far as future goals for the growth of the Little Wing? Kassan is certainly thinking big: “We want Little Wings all over the country and the world,” she says. “As we grow our big Wing, the hope and the goal is that we can open Little Wings everywhere so we can continue to provide this sense of community for our members everywhere.”
The Little Wing is located within the Wing SoHo at 52 Mercer Street. To learn more, visit the-wing.com!