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Don't Call It Coworking

Call it a group of women creating things—and staying warm—in close proximity. A first peek at the Assembly.


The heavenly main hangout at the Assembly, a women’s-only community.

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An intimate dining nook in the kitchen for lunch breaks or one-on-one meetings.

Photo: Grace Wilcox

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The equipale leather chairs in the clubhouse were sourced directly from Mexico.

Photo: Grace Wilcox

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An installation by neon artist Meryl Pataky lights up the entryway.

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Housed in a former church, the Assembly now welcomes a new community of women into its sanctuary.

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Handlettered signs by Jen Mussari adorn the space.

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The former church was made to feel less imposing and more like a wellstyled home with the help of various seating areas and custom creations by local woodworkers Katie Gong and Aleksandra Zee.

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The refresh room is directly off the workout studio and offers lockers, changing areas, luxe bath products, and a ceiling hung with plant life.

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A weaving by local artist Meghan Shimek hangs above a sofa.

Photo: Grace Wilcox

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Molly Goodson wants women to be warm. She wants them to be able to go from sitting on the floor to standing without using their hands, even when they’re 90. Especially when they’re 90. She wants them to finally hem their pants. And she wants them to place a high value on the work they do, be it writing, coding, teaching, running a business, or running a household. It’s a strange list of demands, but one she doggedly set out to meet when she opened the Assembly, a women-only coworking space in the Mission district.

At first blush, the offerings at the Assembly seem disparate—cozy communal workspaces, fitness classes, movie nights, jam making, eyebrow waxing—but pretty soon you realize that Goodson is eerily tuned in to exactly what women want: a place to work, work out, eat well, socialize, and check all those other little things off their to-do lists (hence the drop-in visits from the eyebrow waxer, the tailor, the tarot card reader, and the acupuncturist). She also keeps a close eye on the thermostat, because women can’t hit peak productivity when they’re freezing.

“I wanted to build a space that brings together elements that I haven’t seen brought together,” says Goodson, who previously was an editor at the fashion and lifestyle site Popsugar. “The way women are marketed to in general, I feel like you’re put into a column or box—like you’re a fashion person or a beauty person or you’re a news person. And that’s just not true of any of us. We can enjoy all those things, and we want to enjoy all those things in one place.”

Indeed, bringing wonderful things together in one place is the overarching theme of the Assembly, and the design follows suit. Nearly every leading local female artist and maker is name-checked during a tour of the building, a 7,200-square-foot former church on 14th Street just off Valencia. Visitors are greeted by a glowing-white, pious-meets-punk installation by Oakland neon artist Meryl Pataky. The coffee bar and check-in desk is wrapped in the signature graphic wood patterns of Oakland artist Aleksandra Zee. Woodworker Katie Gong designed and built the massive bookshelf that tastefully divides the rear of the nave—now called the clubhouse—creating two semiprivate seating areas hung with chunky weavings by textile artist Meghan Shimek. On display in the kitchen are paintings by Heather Day, and members can serve themselves lunch using ceramics and flatware from Kathryn Duryea’s new kitchenware line Year & Day. The coffee on tap is even from Lady Falcon Coffee Club, a Sunset-based, woman-owned roastery.

Goodson credits designers
Sara and Rich Combs for the assemblage of artisan talent at the Assembly. The result is at once inviting, aspirational, and irresistibly Instagrammable, a trifecta the couple perfected with the Joshua Tree House, a vacation rental they revamped that became Internet famous and led to IRL design careers. But while the design flourishes are a prime selling point, Goodson is sincere in her desire to create better opportunities for women, something she believes begins with acknowledging the importance of women’s work in all its forms.

“It doesn’t have to be work in the traditional sense. Work can be sitting down and managing whatever is happening in your household or planning the vacation that you want to take. That is work,” Goodson says. “Finding a space for productivity doesn’t mean you have to be building out a business plan to conquer the world.”

Which doesn’t mean the Assembly isn’t populated with women on the world-beating track. Goodson describes the mix as “yoga teachers and writers and personal trainers mixed with tech people and teachers and doctors and airline pilots.” Women working in diverse disciplines, she believes, will lead to more cross-pollination and an altogether stronger community. “People don’t want to be in a space where you are just being echoed back to yourself at all times,” she says. The Assembly has already hit its maximum launch capacity of 100 members, and there’s now a waiting list of nearly 200.

Its popularity is due in part to a reasonable membership fee. Members pay $250 per month for unlimited work time in the communal clubhouse and access to events, including those massages, tailor services, and eyebrow waxings. Other office perks include private call booths, a lactation room, reservable meeting spaces, a sunny back patio, and a full kitchen stocked with Juice Shop goodies. Members can take four free fitness classes per month; each additional one is just $5.

Although Zen vibes abound at the Assembly, fitness classes tend more toward strength training than yoga. The reason? Goodson’s belief that women need to learn to stand up—literally. “Especially as we grow older, we need to be able to stand up from being seated without using our hands, even when we are 90,” she says. This is why she tapped a Barry’s Bootcamp instructor to design the signature strength-building program, called Stronger—a word that Goodson thinks applies to every aspect of the Assembly. “We really want people to come in here,” she says, “and challenge themselves.”


The Assembly isn’t the only sisterhood in town—here are a few other female-focused collectives.

Radiant Workspaces
An intimate, thoughtfully designed coworking space in Potrero Hill that hosts lots of networking events.
1796 18th St. (at Carolina St.), Ste. C
The Hivery
One of the earlier additions to the landscape, the Hivery is plotting additional locations, coming soon.
38 Miller Ave. (at Miller Ln.), Ste. 20, Mill Valley
The Ruby
The Ruby is another newcomer to the Mission, with a style that’s more cozy and DIY than high design—the early members outfitted the space themselves.
Bryant St. at 23rd St.
The WhiteHouse San Francisco
Located inside the Admiral Nimitz Quarters on Yerba Buena Island, this social club attracts women in tech.
4 Whiting Way, Bldg. 81, Yerba Buena Island


Originally published in the March issue of San Francisco

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