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The Wing Loses Its Prayer, Shuttering All Remaining Locations

45 East 20th St., where the Wing has its original location.

A women-only coworking operator, hobbled by the pandemic and marred by internal strife, is calling it quits.

The Wing — co-founded by Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan and billed as a safe workspace for women — said Tuesday that it would close its six remaining coworking locations after failing to achieve financial sustainability after the loss of members during the pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reports.

“With the backdrop of the Covid pandemic and increasing global economic challenges, we have been unable to recover,” the company told members in an email acquired by the WSJ. "As a consequence, we are very sorry to say that all of The Wing locations will be closing permanently. Members will no longer have access with immediate effect."

The Wing members will have access to coworking locations owned by IWG PLC, the coworking giant that runs Regus and Spaces and bought a majority interest in The Wing last year.

The company, which first opened in New York City six years ago, gained early buzz for its feminist focus and charming décor and quickly opened 11 locations in cities like Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. It got early investment from WeWork and had a waiting list of users with plans to expand into Europe, the WSJ reported.

WeWork sold its stake in The Wing in 2020 as both companies hit turbulence caused both by the pandemic and controversies around their leaders. Complaints about the company's treatment of Black employees led to a New York Times Magazine investigation in March 2020 and co-founder Gelman's resignation a few months later. 

Employees also reportedly staged a digital walkout following Gelman's resignation over the firm's “dysfunctional company structure” and not living up to the concept of “intersectional feminism” it peddled to the world.

The pandemic didn't help, either. The Wing laid off most of its staff in 2020 and the company suspended dues for some 12,000 members, losing 95% of its revenue overnight and shuttering its 11 locations, the WSJ reported. It only reopened six locations when pandemic restrictions eased — one of many  coworking operators that struggled to survive. More than 20% of U.S. and Canadian coworking locations shuttered between 2020 and 2021, as some of the biggest names in the industry shrank, went bankrupt or shuttered entirely, including Breather, WeWork, MakeOffices, Knotel and Serendipity Labs, according to an Upsuite report.

That trend has moved in reverse this year as companies adopted more hybrid work solutions and operators opened more locations in the U.S. than they shuttered, according to Upsuite's Q2 report.

The Wing also rotated through leaders after Gelman, including Kassan, who resigned in February. Former marketing chief Jen Cho was named CEO but quit five months later, the WSJ reported.

IWG CEO Mark Dixon told the WSJ that many of its members wanted to be located more in suburban coworking spaces closer to their homes — a big push for the parent company, which is looking to open hundreds of new locations.