It’s not always easy to find balance in your life. With work, social and family commitments, it can seem like there’s just not enough hours in the day. For a lot of us, the first thing we cut from our calendars is self-care. Well, not on Alisha Ramos’ watch. In January 2017, she founded an online community that celebrates the ethos of a girls’ night in—helping subscribers unwind, rejuvenate, and cultivate meaningful connections. Ramos’ company delivers weekly newsletters, posts interviews with inspirational women, and hosts book clubs to help create a sense of community.
Ramos launched her newsletter less than a year ago. Since then, the Girls’ Night In community has grown exponentially, and now has more than 20,000 subscribers. Ramos sat down with us to talk entrepreneurship, self-care, and the importance of building community, online and in real life.
What is Girls’ Night In and how did it come to life?
I didn’t really have an “aha” moment building Girls’ Night In but I’ve always been entrepreneurial and I knew I wanted to start my own company. GNI was originally supposed to be an ecommerce company to help women enjoy a night in with friends. I had all these ideas and schemes to help that come to life but lacked the capital to make everything happen. In January, shortly after the US presidential election, I noticed that a lot of women were feeling incredibly anxious and stressed out and it was kind of a dark period for a lot of people. So that kind of gave me a big push to make Girls’ Night In.
We’re an online community and our mission is to help women relax, recharge, and cultivate meaningful community and connection with one another. Our first product in market is our weekly newsletter that goes out every Friday morning—it’s a really fun read. We curate all the best long pieces and recommendations for your night in. We give suggestions on what TV shows to watch, what podcast episodes are catching our attention, and fun beauty products that we’re into. I launched it at the end of January to about 300 readers and saw it grow pretty rapidly week after week.
What were you doing before you launched Girls’ Night In?
I worked in technology for almost five years. I was a designer and engineer for web products. I work at a company called Vox Media and I helped build platforms that served millions of users every month. I learned a lot about building a brand, building a sustainable editorial company, and building out and managing a team.
I feel really lucky because working in technology definitely gave me a leg up in for building GNI. Everything from building the website to setting up the infrastructure for our newsletter, and obviously the editorial experience really helped.
How is Girls’ Night In redefining self-care?
Self-care is something that is different for everyone. It’s based on how you like to recharge and take a break and we like to celebrate that. We interview influential women for our site and we always ask them how they define self-care; it’s different every time and we embrace that diversity. It’s whatever activity or thing you do to take a break from the craziness and overwhelming stress of life.
For me, self-care comes in the form of taking a break from work and screen time. I try to bake in time every day to turn off my laptop, my phone, and TV. I read a book, write in my journal, walk outside, or use that time to exercise, but it’s different for everyone. Some of our interviews say they’re not big on fitness or exercise, so for them self-care is more just like lounging on the couch watching TV. It varies and we celebrate that.
How has GNI grown and changed since you launched?
A lot of our strategy has shifted. When I started Girls’ Night In, I had all these grand visions of becoming a lifestyle brand and ecommerce company. Those things are still on the horizon, but I’ve embraced the organic growth of the newsletter and I’m focused on understanding what our community actually needs. A big difference has been the way I manage the company and strategize at a higher level. It’s less about having these set roadmaps and tactics, and more about listening to our users and letting that shape our future strategy.
How does GNI create connection in real life?
I think it’s rare nowadays to meet people outside of your immediate social circle and I’m really proud to say that Girls’ Night In was started with values of inclusivity and diversity. Building community offline is becoming more of a central focus. When we ask our readers what they’re missing in their lives, overwhelmingly they say offline events where they can connect with other people.
One thing that we do is our book club. We have a group of amazing volunteer hosts and we choose a venue in each city to gather—anywhere from five to 30 women—to have a discussion. The women who attend our book clubs come from all walks of life, all ages, and different careers. The fact that we’re able to connect them—that is what GNI is about.
We had our book club meetup in New York, and partnering with thisopenspace has been great. The venue was really beautiful, and it helped set the tone for conversation. It felt very inviting and comfortable, which is exactly what we want for our meet ups. It just helps to have a great spot for these community-building conversations and connections.
Any advice for other women who are thinking of starting a business?
You should definitely have a financial plan. That’s probably the least sexy piece of advice but it’s the most important. Not a lot of people talk about it, but if you’re planning to build your own business, you need to make sure you can pay yourself and pay your living expenses.
I would make sure you’re truly passionate about your business. Just because you have a great idea doesn’t mean you should dedicate your life to it. People say this all the time, and I know it’s annoying, but make sure you can get up in the morning and actually be excited to go to work.
And lastly, something I’m constantly learning is that you can’t do everything on your own. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re probably very independent and headstrong, and you probably want to do everything yourself, but that’s totally unsustainable. If you want to grow and scale your business, you have to rely on your team. Empower them and invest in them to help them grow.
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