It wasn't until I attended a women's college that I fully understood the power and importance of women-centered groups. Before COVID had us all locked down, I made it a priority to not only spend time with my own friend group, but to also attend events with women I would have never met otherwise, through my local alumnae group, book clubs, networking events, women's clubs, and fitness classes. As soon as quarantine began, I acutely felt the loss of the experience of learning from and sharing with women from different walks of life. After some quick research, I discovered that a vibrant world of supportive women exists online, through communities built for the explicit purpose of sharing, learning, and connecting. Whether you're experiencing loneliness, feeling disconnected from friends because of COVID, or even political beliefs right now, these online communities are a wonderful resource—and many are available for free! Of course, you can always form your own online community (the cupcakes and cashmere Facebook group is a great way to connect!), but I've listed a few of my favorite ways to connect with women online below:
I've been a fan of Quilt for years, and have hosted many of you in my home (and even in our office!) for vulnerable, open discussions on insecurities, finances, relationships, and plans for the future. Their new app takes the in-person conversations I loved so much online, where anyone can lead a themed discussion (it's all voice-only, so no need to worry about Zoom fatigue). It's like having a supportive group of girlfriends literally at your fingertips—or like listening to an interactive podcast! Though their app is currently in beta testing (it's not yet released to the public), their founder Ashley Sumner has graciously offered to let a small number of cupcakes and cashmere readers join early. Mark your calendars for a week from today (8/13) at 5 PM PST for a fireside chat I'll be having with Ashley on career and budgeting!
To gain access to the app, fill out your information in the "Get your invitation" portion of the Quilt website here and select "cupcakes and cashmere" from the drop-down list. They're offering 100 invitations to cupcakes and cashmere readers, so the first 100 people to sign up will receive an email from Quilt with the invite link and instructions on how to download the app the join the conversation.
The weekly newsletter Girls Night In recently launched The Lounge, a virtual place to connect and "gather" with other people. I spent the last few weeks attending Zoom fitness classes, a cocktail class (I can now make a killer Jalapeño Margarita), and attending a virtual book club meeting. Similar to in-person women-centered clubs, you also are given access to the members of the community and encouraged to connect with them over The Lounge's members-only Slack channel (which has around 700 women, at the time I'm writing this!).
Monthly and annual memberships available
In high school, I understood that Reddit was not a place for me, but a place for my friends who were self-described tech nerds and coders and who often happened to be men, so I was surprised the first time I stumbled upon the subReddit for women, The Girl Survival Guide. In it, women post vulnerably and openly about everything from insecurities about where they are in life, questions about Keratin treatment, and relationships—and the responses exude warmth and support. An internet forum that supports women? Yes, please!
Free to post
The Girlboss Community is founded on a collection of groups, where women frequently post questions and ask for advice by theme. In the women in media group a woman may request a portfolio review while the yoga enthusiasts group includes posts about music for at-home classes and support circles for yogis unable to teach in person. All that, and a site for crowd-funding other women (or your own business!). It's a powerful community, where you can easily navigate to find your people.
Free to join and post
A few other online communities... Study Hall (a network for media workers) and Ladies Get Paid Virtual Meetups (many of which are free, with the goal of empowering women to take hold of their finances)