I got a tour of a swanky clubhouse in NYC's Tribeca, where members pay up to $8,000 a year to network with high-level execs. The space was beautiful — but it clearly wasn't the main perk people pay for

Hillary Hoffower/Business InsiderChief’s cofounders, Carolyn Childers and Lindsay Kaplan.

Women in the workplace have a new haven where they can connect, learn, and grow.

Chief, which launched in January, is a private network for aspiring or current women executives that focuses on mentorship.

Its Tribeca clubhouse is one of many spaces geared at networking and coworking spaces cropping up across NYC at various price points, among them Spring Place, another members-only club also located in trendy Tribeca, where monthly membership can run up to $US1,250, and Rockefeller Center’s Club 75, which is geared specifically at CEOs and directors.

Read more: Forget the Upper East Side – Manhattan’s richest neighbourhood is all about subtle wealth, and it shows a major evolution in how the elite are living

I recently took a tour of Chief and expected the swanky Tribeca clubhouse it operates out of to have the feel of an exclusive members-only club. What I found instead was an inviting and down-to-earth space that seemed designed to cater to the networking needs of its members.

Take a look inside Chief.

Chief is located in Tribeca, home to Manhattan’s richest zip code.

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Carolyn Childers and Lindsay Kaplan, previous VP-level executives, are the founders of Chief.

Childers said they prioritised space before location – the neighbourhood feel and character of the area was a “nice addition.”

The clubhouse is located on the second floor of a residential building on Hudson Street, which had life but wasn’t overly bustling.

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I found the neighbourhood vibes to mirror what was waiting for me inside.

The clubhouse felt welcoming as soon as I stepped in.

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It was designed to feel calm and inviting – like a retreat into someone’s home rather than an office, Childers said. It was also designed to feel powerful.

The main room is painted green for an inviting feel that symbolises a place of leaders.

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“Leadership isn’t gendered,” Childers said. “The opposite of pink is not blue; green is inclusive.”

Designed in collaboration with Amy Butchko and Adrienne Laube from The Springs Collective, the look is bold and dominant, but calm.

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It merges tropical plants with a mix of antique furnishings and contemporary statement pieces.

Brown leather armchairs brought in clubhouse vibes — they were some of the softest chairs I had ever sat in.

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I was tempted to stay there with one of the many books scattered throughout the clubhouse.

My favourite part of the space was the grand piano — it made for the perfect statement piece.

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Membership, which includes access to the clubhouse, ranges from $US5,400 to $US7,800 for VP levels and C-suite executives, respectively, although about 60% of the members are sponsored by their companies, according to Kaplan.

For those paying out of pocket, there’s a grant program available.

I thought Childers summed it up perfectly when she described the aesthetic as “your weekend power suit.”

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The founders hoped to fill a void by creating a helpful community focused on and tailored to C-suite women, according to Childers – Chief is both a safe space for them to talk about issues like work-life balance and build lines of succession for the next generation.

“We’re not elite,” Kaplan said. “We’re selecting spirits that are here for a good reason.”

Currently, Chief has 500 members in their 20s to 60s from more than 400 companies spanning a variety of industries.

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Some members hold prestigious jobs at top companies like Walmart, HBO, Spotify, PepsiCo, and Hearst.

While Chief is geared toward women, it also welcomes men. There’s an application process to get in, with what the cofounders told me is currently a 3,000-person waitlist.

The green room is “where the magic happens,” Kaplan said.

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It’s divided into several lounge areas, designed with a focus on conversation – “how people can use the space to connect and put a drink down, rather than work and put a laptop down.”

This layout helps the function of Chief’s key service — core groups, in which members are organised into groups of eight to 10 women from a variety of industries but at the same career and experience level.

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In these groups, members learn from each other. Kaplan said it’s “think tank meets work therapy” – mentoring is the number one thing members get out of Chief.

Chief also hosts workshops and panels with people like Whoopi Goldberg and Lindsey Vonn.

The space has an elegant wood bar, which serves wine in the evenings.

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Among its social offerings, Chief also hosts poker nights and community nights for members.

With a wide-length mirror and a modern gilded wine rack, I thought the area easily became a focal point of the room — a perfect place to have a conversation.

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The bar also features a coffee cart and stainless steel appliances.

Members can also gather in one of the two board rooms.

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In one, there’s a carefully curated bookshelf covering a variety of topics, from arts and culture to feminism and architecture.

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“The books represent who we think our women are,” Kaplan said.

The other board room features a great gallery wall.

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Most of the artwork in the space was curated by Uprise Art, a female-founded, women-led team. They showcased female artists with powerful, bold, and engaging works.

All of Chief’s artwork is by women.

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Some of my favourites were these bold and fun pieces by Amber Vittoria in the entry bathroom.

There’s also a bathroom in the back, which leads to a nursing room currently being remodeled. Like most bathrooms, it has a tub and a shower — but in this case, they’re not for use.

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As it turns out, the clubhouse was previously a bachelor pad. The tub couldn’t be removed, so it stayed. I thought it was quirky and fun and added character.

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Ultimately, Chief isn’t really about the clubhouse.

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“We’re creating this really powerful network that didn’t exist, bringing different industries and backgrounds together – the space is where we come together,” Childers said. “The space is a house for that community. The space is secondary.”

While Chief isn’t something I would currently pay for at this moment in my life, I wouldn’t rule it out in the future if I were seeking meaningful connections, a community, or new ways to grow in my career. While the price can be steep if you’re paying out of pocket, I think it’s worth it if you can afford it – Chief’s main perk isn’t its space, but the group of passionate individuals it can connect you to.

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