Lauren Saks Merriman is proud of The Nelle HQ’s two years in the Crossroads Arts District, she said, recalling its impact as a genuine environment for empowered thought, inclusion and connection.
“We set out to offer a safe space for inspiration and community,” said Merriman, founder of The Nelle. “And that’s exactly what we’ve accomplished.”
But after six years of fulfilling that mission, a changing economic landscape led Merriman to announce the business’ closure, she said. Jan. 31 is expected to be The Nelle’s final day. All non-trade or gift-based annual memberships will be refunded for their remaining terms in the coming weeks, Merriman said.
The Nelle was built to host and serve through elevated amenities and programming — specifically for individuals who are typically underserved, like women and members of Kansas City’s LGBTQ+ community, she explained. Such amenities included a gym, boxing, arts spaces, quiet workspaces, a screening room, and a conference/events venue.
Since its earliest inception in 2017, inclusivity and the arts has been central to The Nelle’s mission. Its 65 person membership catered heavily to artists, non-profits and essential workers. It filled a need for a “third space” between work and home that enhances lives through elegant amenities and unique programming, Merriman said.
The Nelle donated workspace to local artists for the creation of large-scale visual works, she added. Its artist residence program hosted local artist Mark Allen who was able to build a portfolio during his residency that helped in securing a spot at Pratt, one of America’s top art programs. It hosted Kansas City Art Institute, Art as Mentorship, Midwest Innocence Project, the Missouri Caucus and the Kansas City Symphony.
The concept for the space came to Merriman after she moved to Kansas City from Chicago, where she had joined city clubs and wanted to bring a similar experience to Kansas City.
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