You'll Lose Your Chic Over This Incredible Women's Club

You can get a facial or a manicure between meetings, FYI.

Co-working spaces have become so trendy there's an unofficial look to them: open seating, a neon sign illuminating some #riseandgrind-esque mantra, industrial lighting, and graphic pops of color along the walls. It's almost cliche, which is what makes blogger Ashley Wu's twist on the space so refreshing: It's a total 180.

Just a few weeks ago, she launched Maison, a members club for women on New York City's Upper East Side, that feels like you're hanging out at your chicest friend's house. If that friend were Gwyneth Paltrow and she never got tired of you hanging around, that is.

"I really wanted to create a warm yet modern feeling," Ashley explained. Large windows are covered in sheer curtains, letting natural light filter in softly. Warm wood tones and cushy sofas covered in emerald velvet help set that curl-up-and-chill-for-a-while vibe.

Maison
Nicole Franzen

Ashley sat in every single chair and tested each piece of furniture that made it into the 3,400-square-foot club, making sure that nothing felt wobbly, or rickety, or just plain uncomfortable. After all, if you're sitting and spending a few hours there, shouldn't you want to enjoy where you're working?

"I wanted to create a place where people felt comfortable, not cramped."

It's not just a place to work, though—Maison partners with local companies, so you can take a quick break to get a manicure or pedicure from Sundays, sneak in a facial between meetings from Georgia Louise, or (as of this April) take a 'Stitch & Bitch' class from the pros at Brooklyn Craft Company. "I planned it with moms and people who have no downtime in mind, so you can get in and get it done quickly," she said.

Ashley worked with designers Jessica Wilpon Kamel and Christina Akiskalou from Ronen Lev, and Two Blu Ducks' Laurie Messman to dream up spaces to fit a variety of needs. There's a work table along the windows—"the truest work space," Ashley says—a library area in the back with a vintage fireplace, where the club hosts events; sofas and other hangouts for taking meetings; a full kitchen, stocked with drinks and snacks; and private rooms for whatever you might need, be it "taking a call or pumping," for any working moms out there.

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Nicole Franzen

Ashley actually designed the place with working moms in mind. After having her second child, she found it hard to work from home, and she quickly grew tired of fighting for a seat in the city's perpetually crowded coffee shops. She needed an escape where she could get sh*t done—and she suspected other women did, too.

"In New York, you always feel like you're taking up too much space, especially when you have kids and all their stuff," Ashley said. "I wanted to create a place where people felt comfortable, not cramped."

That meant carefully considering how many members to allow—a figure Ashley says they're still figuring out, as the first wave of members start using Maison regularly—and making sure not to cram in as much furniture as possible.

"How disappointing would it be if you came in and couldn't find a spot to work? That'd be awful," she reasoned.

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Nicole Franzen

Once Ashley gets a sense of how people use the space and how many seats are available at any given time, she'll designate a maximum number of members to keep things from getting crowded. For now though, she's testing and getting a feel for things as they accept new members.

Joining Maison costs $400 a month, or you can get a discounted rate for an annual membership, paying $4,200 for the whole year (roughly $350/month).

Based on initial interest, Ashley's already thinking about future Maisons.

"Initially, I thought Maison would mainly appeal to people right in the neighborhood, but we're getting applications in from all over New York," she said. Don't be surprised if you see more Maisons popping up in the years to come.

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