In 2016, Donald Trump won the presidential election. To this day, this fact is still hard for people to swallow, but what came out of the unrest was space for innovation. In the summer following the inauguration, Sandy Hong and Melissa Wong turned what was originally a 30-day pop-up in response to Trump’s election to a showcase of the many creative collectives led by women and trans or gender-nonconforming individuals.
As a result, New Women Space (NWS) was born: a community resource to find fellow marginalized people and build each other up. This space has already become a much-needed response center for marginalized individuals looking for a place to take action as well as feel seen, heard, and affirmed by their communities.
This isn’t your luxury, members-only club, but rather a coworking space that’s an accessible, supportive, and safe environment to inspire and create economic opportunities. Since its founding, the space has hosted nearly 600 unique gatherings, all created and led by women, femme, queer, transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals.
What attracts people to New Women Space? The vibe.
Under the guardianship of Eva Woolridge and Sage Youngblood, NWS is where conversations are exchanged, creativity flows, and ideas are cultivated in order to prepare people for the business world. NWS is creating an atmosphere of activity and inclusion, established as an authentic, safe space.
“In our journey to grow and serve our community, New Women Space has been fundamental in uplifting Black Boi Complex and helping our platform reach its goals. The environment is always welcoming and safe, the staff is always friendly and incredibly helpful,” said Jeux, founder of Black Boi Complex, a platform dedicated to the liberation and vulnerability of Men of Color and Black Q.T.L.G.B.A.I+ (queer, trans, lesbian, gay, bi, asexual, intertextual) individuals.
At NWS, the community maintains respect for one another through their community guidelines. By staying in the space, members agree to certain conditions, like not assuming another’s experience based on how they look or seem and maintaining gender neutrality in language. Members are encouraged to be mindful of how they take up space and leave room for others to voice their opinions, as well as participating in “calling in vs. calling out,” which provides an open dialogue for people to willingly learn about why something may be offensive to another. The goal is for NWS to be a center of joy, celebration, life, and healing.
Everyday, people passing by are attracted to NWS’s windowsill plants, the art displayed on the glass windows, and the pink fixtured lightings, often coming into the space for a quick conversation. After mingling by the cafe, they leave with a new perspective.
In the midst of adversity, NWS doesn’t back down
New Women Space prides itself to “call people in” rather than “call people out.” In 2016, the building’s door was tagged 14 times with the word C*NTS. Despite the vandalism, it only proved the strength and innovation of the community. NWS’s neighbors were equally distressed by the repeat offense and helped weigh in on how to address this recurring issue. In the end, C*NT t-shirts were created with the exact handwriting and tag that was left on the door. This continues to be the space’s most popular item sold and is definitely a conversation starter. The cherry on top is a percentage of proceeds donated to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.
How does NHS stay open for business while remaining affordable for members?
Part of NWS’s mission is to provide affordable space for service initiative programming. The space achieves this by offering cost-efficient membership. NWS was kickstarted by a successful crowdfunding campaign that raised over $17,000 in less than two weeks. With this fund as a buffer, NWS founders were able to implement a low-cost membership initiative. The space has maintained membership loyalty and evolved their operations through community organizing, fundraising, and strategic partnerships with mission-aligned groups focusing on the principles of emergent strategy. NWS makes genuine connections with every person that uses their space, and that’s what keeps them open: the community.
How can you help?
NWS is a community-run space, and to continue to keep their doors open, they need your support. Interested in becoming a supporter? Donate on NWS’s website, attend an event, look out for their IFundWoman Campaign launching May 15, and follow them on Instagram @newwomenspace. In the area? Visit the space at 188 Woodpoint Road, Brooklyn, NY.