Where does a messy family go? The one that doesn’t have the creative and organizational skills to plan meaningful activities every week? The one that wants to spend time together but isn’t sure exactly how to do it?
Typically, a successful family unit has needed a community — a so-called “village” — to raise children. However, with modern developments this “village” has slowly disappeared from society as interactions have moved online.
An analog space for intentional, cultural, and creative community is a big deal — but it’s one that’s not easily found. Sarah Robinson felt this as she navigated spaces designed for children or adults… but never both.
“When I had my son Henry I quickly found that if we wanted to go out together we had to choose something for kids or something for grownups,” Robinson reflects. “There was nothing for both of us.”
Along with friend Noria Morales the two decided it was time to do something about this gap in the community and made a plan to fill it with their very own club: The Wonder in Soho.
“The reality is you can’t go to the park everyday, you don’t always have the energy to plan a trip to the science museum, and sometimes you just want to hang with your friends while your kids play,” says Morales. “The Wonder is a place where the entire family can have meaningful and memorable time together.”
It’s a place for those families that seek to nurture their children without stifling them. A place for parents who aren’t interested in living separate lives from their children. And a place for children to explore and for parents to re-discover their childlike wonder.
Between the tranquil nursery outfitted with Dyson purifiers and a play area created by a set designer, there’s space for children ages 0-12 at The Wonder. The creative interior design is just one tip-off that the space is meant to stimulate the creativity of all. Programs such as Obsessions (a children’s class delving into the curious mysteries of different topics) engage children on an intellectual level. Other classes such as Dope Grownups bring parents into the mix to expose children to different, unique skill sets with an emphasis on emotional and cognitive growth.
“My favorite aspect is seeing how dynamic the space is, and how it really changes every day based on how our members are utilizing all the different areas,” muses Robinson. “It’s incredible to see how involved our families get in the classes and events — everything from lightsaber battles to a kid-led BeyBlades workshop to booze and boardgames family nights.”
Programs like the Saturday Afternoon Disco (where parents and children hit the dance floor together) reflect Morales and Robinson’s outlook on parenthood. It’s truly a space for parents and children to create beautiful memories together as they soak in the fleeting moments of childhood. Because this chapter in life is supposed to be fun, even if it isn’t always easy.
“I think parents are surprised that the space is designed for them,” Robinson laughs. “The Wonder is an engaging space their kids will love, but it is also a place for parents to hang out and see their friends too. In that way it’s so different from what families are used to.”
While most of The Wonder is a cellphone-free zone, there is a parent-only lounge that parents can retreat to for last-minute calls, Wi-Fi, and emails — a place to catch up on projects while kids are in class.
When parents pay the annual membership fee, they get all the classes and programming included. Additionally, one caregiver is also allowed to join the family at the club.
The need for a space like The Wonder continues to grow, and The Wonder plans to grow along with that desire. “We’d love to add additional locations in New York City, and then expand across the country,” says Morales. “We are already getting such an amazing response from parents who want us to come to their city, so I’m excited to see where The Wonder takes us.”
And with $2 million raised in seed funding from angel investors including Rebecca Minkoff, Brand Foundry, Red Sea, and the Female Founders Fund, The Wonder is not slowing down anytime soon. Basically, it’s playtime on autopilot.
Based out of Los Angeles, Iona Brannon is a writer and photojournalist who deeply enjoys hearing the stories of others and drawing out the beauty of the mundane. Her hobbies include sitting in LA traffic and occasionally yelling at other drivers. You can see her work and connect with her at ionabrannon.com.