When I saw the announcement that former Mayor Rahm Emanuel invited The Wing, a women-focused social club and co-working space, to open their first Midwest space in Chicago, I was thrilled. Over the past few years, I’ve lovingly scrolled through The Wing’s Instagram feed, fan-girling over their design, support, and powerful messages of inclusiveness and empowerment. As someone who primarily works solo from home and coffee shops, co-working has always intrigued me.
From the moment The Wing Chicago opened in Fulton Market in April, I’ve been eager to get my foot through the members-only door and finally got the chance last month. So, did it live up to my expectations? Read on to learn why The Wing is more than just a co-working space, and why it may not be for everyone.
Let’s get logistics out of the way first. A membership at The Wing Chicago will set you back $185 a month (that’s $2,220 a year and it is an annual commitment). Members have unlimited access seven days a week. The beautiful sunlit space includes conference rooms, large community co-working areas, phone booths (aka a quiet space to take a call), showers and beauty rooms, a café, and free powerful WiFi. They also have a fully stocked Pumping Room for nursing moms. Members receive perks such as discounted parking, can bring in guests for meetings, have access to events and programming, and can also save with discounts at other businesses, including clothing stores, restaurants, and professional services.
If there is one thing you may know about The Wing, it’s that their spot-on branding is consistent, and their in-house design team is absolutely brilliant. The moment you step off the elevator, you’re greeted with a colorful cement-tile floor and an overwhelming sense that yes, this is the place you were looking for. It’s just comfortable and inspiring — the opposite of a stuffy and dated office (no cubicles here!). The design team thought of every little detail — from the conference room names (we love “Lucy Ricardo”!) to the functional custom furniture designed to fit the average woman. The flow of the space is practical, inviting, and extremely well thought out. It even smells amazing (here’s their secret).
In my opinion, this is the biggest advantage to The Wing: the connections and sense of sisterhood shared between members. It’s not just about co-working. Members, upon check-in, are encouraged to mingle and network. Using their website or app, members can search who is there, what they do, what talents they are looking for, and more. For freelancers and entrepreneurs, this is a huge benefit. During my visit on a Friday morning, I saw several women chatting and working on projects. Teams were having meetings utilizing their high-tech conference rooms. The quiet room was respectful. And despite the millennial-pink touches everywhere, members ranged in age. Everyone was welcoming and friendly; it truly is an all-inclusive space where sisterhood is king.
One drawback: The Wing does not allow outside food or drinks in their space. They do have a beautiful café, called The Perch, that features dishes from local chefs such as Sarah Grueneberg of Monteverde, Elske‘s Anna Posey, and more. There’s even a beverage list with contributions from Lost Lake‘s Shelby Allison. Snacks and meals will set you back anywhere from $5-17, so this could add up each week. They do offer free coffee though, and it’s good.
You will not find another space that offers programming like The Wing. From professional workshops and health and wellness classes to first looks at movies and TV (did you hear about their partnership with HBO’s “Big Little Lies”?!), the events alone are a huge benefit to a membership. During my visit, it was clear that their team put a lot of care into curating their events, pairing up with local businesses and also making sure there is something for everyone. If you didn’t have a social or after-work life before, you do now.
So … Is it Worth It?
If you live in the Chicago-area and are a freelancer, a “casual business woman,” or building a start-up: yes. The connections alone and the many ways The Wing allows members to market themselves are worth the cost. If you work a 9-5 but want to network after-hours and can swing the membership cost, the access to events is unparalleled. The founders really are geniuses and have found a niche with The Wing. Despite the cost, you may also save some money in other areas of your budget thanks to the perks: the free use of Chanel, Glossier, and top-of-the-line styling products in their beauty rooms could help reduce your self-care budget each month. Plus, you can trade your caffeine runs for their free coffee. So, if you could see yourself dedicating at least 2-3 days a week hanging at The Wing and want to network with like-minded women in Chicago, I say join the club already!
Macaire Douglas lives in Chicago with her husband and two sons. She proudly supports Share Our Spare, a local nonprofit that collects goods for children in need.