The world offers plenty of potentials that allow for separation, which is why it’s so cool to see so many people actively heading in the other direction and championing for the increase in community. In some cases, these efforts towards supportive inclusion also focus specifically on female connection, which is an extra wonderful thing to see. One organization that is providing women with opportunities to come together for both professional and social means is Quilt.
Through Quilt, women are opening their homes to other women for scheduled work sessions and themed chats on important concepts and pertinent social issues. The membership-based program offers the crucial element of group that all of us need to balance the freedom we enjoy or expand where we perceive a lack of it. This seems particularly important considering that more and more people are working flex schedules or running businesses outside of the traditional office environment.
I had the opportunity to speak with Ashley Sumner about the concept of the organization that she started with Gianna Wurzl. She explained how Quilt works, what it offers, and why it’s important.
Where did the concept for Quilt come from, was it an evolving idea or a sudden insight that this sort of thing was missing?
This is a company that has been in development for many years. Gianna Wurzl started her journey launching her previous company, One Roof, which was reimagining workspace for women out of residential properties that she leased. When we met, I was a community developer for brands such as NeueHouse and Wanderlust. Through our mutual passion to develop a tech company that could scale access to a community of supportive women, Quilt was born.
Were you and Gianna friends first or did you come together with the concept of a business?
Over two years ago, I moved to Los Angeles (I’m from NYC) and Gianna moved home to LA from Melbourne. In a weeks time, we had 7 women connect us – over email, text, FB message, all saying we had to meet. We spent 3 hours together on Friday afternoon, no set plan for the meeting in mind, but walked away knowing we wanted to be around one another. For a year we slow burned, working on separate projects and 18 months ago we took the leap and became business partners. We highly recommend this approach to any two people who want to become co-founders!
Tell me about what “home” means to you and why this is an important element of Quilt gatherings. This is a pretty different idea than a co-working space in an office building.
Home is an integral component of our “formula.” It’s safe, nurturing, intimate. Space matters just as much as the people who are in it. We tested our original concept in a home and then in a 10,000 sq ft space and it drastically changed the way everyone interacted and communicated with one another. No more than 15 women gathering, in a kitchen, having tea, allows for open dialogue, results in connection and collaboration on business ideas.
What type of women take part in this?
Our earliest adopters were absolutely female freelancers and entrepreneurs. That said, we noticed a very diverse group of women booking all of our gatherings – age (21-55), race & socioeconomic background, so we’ve now designed offerings that take place from 7AM-8PM on the platform.
Have you seen friendships and partnerships grow out of these gatherings?
The number is too many to mention. We’ve designed a platform, an experience for this specific reason. Connection and knowledge sharing. Whether it’s women continuing to work together on projects, hire one another, travel together, start a new idea, interview on their podcast – the partnerships are endless!
Is there an element of accountability, do women tend to return regularly and remain active in the group?
Yes, that’s why we now have a membership. We noticed that women wanted to pay to be a part of the community, and engage on many levels. They often go to co-working or chats with other women they’ve already met through the platform.
Each co-working session is also specifically designed around accountability. You start the 4-hour session identifying what you want to work on, writing it down, posting it on the wall and saying it out loud. When you finish that task, you go up and put your next one.
Tell me about the Quilt Chats and the topics visited in those.
We pick a monthly topic we dive deep on all month. It allows for us to truly explore a topic. We identify stories in the media, statistics we may find alarming and decide to understand how the community feels. For instance, January was Risk – and the statistic that women needs to feel 90% qualified to apply for a job and men need to feel 60% was shared. We were curious if this statistic resonated with the community and if so, how we feel about it. We create a safe space for women to open up about their feelings, their fears, and support one another in our individual and collective growth.
They’re chosen by asking the community what they want, and researching what’s out there. We care about creating access to information that might be difficult to otherwise find. For instance, last week we hosted an Intro to Cryptocurrency. This week we have a chat on the cannabis space. Two spaces women could become the majority in. We also offer classes on designing your own meditation practice, understanding personal finances and how to raise capital.
What has the growth process been like?
Let’s just say it’s been overflowing and we’re very grateful. We desire to build a company that provides community to women wherever they may be…while it’s just the beginning of a very long journey, we’re well on our way!
You’re currently in LA, SF, and NYC. Will you continue to expand into other cities?
Yes we will! But thoughtfully and slowly. What’s amazing about Quilt is that it’s a decentralized business model. The fact that we can be in places other companies can’t because they are bound to real estate is what differentiates us. We desire growing into towns and cities that other companies may never make it to – Nashville, Kansas City, Portland… to name a few.
Quilt can be found on Instagram @wearequilt