When I applied to an all-women's college my senior year of high school, I did it as a favor to my beloved principal who told me, "If I had a daughter, this is where I'd want her to go." I, on the other hand, had my suspicions. I'd always been a tomboy growing up, competing in male-dominated sports like wrestling and opting for paintball outings over slumber parties. Outside of a few friends who are like sisters, I didn't "get" girls who, in my very small high school, I saw as manipulative and competitive. So why would I go to a women's college? It wasn't until I was accepted to the school that I began to seriously consider it—and I'm so glad I did.
During my four years at Wellesley College, the thing I'd feared most—living and learning in a women-focused environment—became the thing I valued most. Since graduating, the feeling that sticks with me still is the sense of empowerment that came from belonging to a larger all-women's community, from nightly hangouts with girlfriends fueled by boxed wine, to competing on a women-only sports team, and learning in an all-female classroom. Even with a strong group of female friends, there's a unique value that comes from being a part of a larger women's community. While my girlfriends are my biggest champions and the first people I text when something important (or hilarious/embarrassing/upsetting) happens, joining a women's group feels like you're part of something bigger. The connection, and vulnerability, that comes with it is incredibly healing and comforting—there's a reason why women's circles go back thousands of years, from sororities to moon circles.
Tuesday night, we hosted our own women's circle—a conversation in collaboration with Quilt, in the Cupcakes and Cashmere office. After a short Q&A session with Emily (also a women's college grad) and Quilt Director of Marketing Leigh Ware, readers divided into smaller break-out groups to discuss the topic, "Authenticity and Social Media." Although most readers were strangers at the start of the evening, a clear sisterhood emerged by the end as women bonded over questions like, "Do you struggle with comparing yourself to others around you?" and "How would you describe yourself in 'real life' versus on your Instagram feed?" This quick transition—from strangers, to acquaintances, and even to good friends—is one I've seen time and time again in both Quilt groups I've hosted in my own home, and women's groups I've attended around L.A. Here are some of my favorite nationwide and L.A.-based women's groups, so you can find one that fits what you're looking for, and photos from our own event with Quilt:
Quilt (Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York): A group that brings women together in private homes, for co-working days and one-hour chats, called "Quilt Chats" around a specific, monthly theme like "Money," "Journeys," or "Desire." Go if... you're looking for a meaningful and intimate connection with other women (the cap for most "chats" is 8 women).
WMN (Los Angeles): "A conscious space for women to gather in service to their own healing as an offering to the community." They hold workshops, women circles, and lectures around specific topics including women's health (take a look at their packed schedule here). Go if... you're interested in connecting with women while learning about a specific topic or healing technique.
The Wing (New York, DC, and Los Angeles coming soon—as well as other locations): A co-working community designed for women (with incredible interior design, to boot). The Wing's headquarters offer a clubhouse-like feel (no boys allowed) with evening lectures and events, and access to their beautiful spaces. Go if... You thrive from working in a creative environment with other driven, like-minded women (and have the means to do so—it isn't inexpensive!).
LOOM (Los Angeles): While LOOM provides "education for everyone," and offers general movement and yoga classes, the beautiful Los Angeles studio focuses on classes and groups around mothers and mothers-to-be. Go if... you're a recent mother (or interested in/ struggling to become one), or simply interested in learning about pregnancy and parenting in a supportive environment.
Love Yoga (Los Angeles): This Venice and East Side-based yoga studio isn't expressly for women, but they host several women-only events, like their monthly 'New Moon Cycle' circles, where they invite women to set their intentions "into the Universe," as part of a ceremony that taps into ancient rituals. Go if... you're astrologically curious.
Online communities: While I've found that women's groups are most valuable in-person, there's still a lot to be said for online communities—like the community we've created here! Since launching our Facebook Group, I've loved watching connections and conversations bloom in our group, as well as increasingly more 'IRL' events. Go if... You're looking for a mid-day pick-me-up or connection with like-minded women.
Create one yourself: A friend recently mentioned to me that she's interested in starting a monthly 'intention-setting' group, inspired by Lacy Phillips of Free & Native, where women come together one evening a month to talk about their short-term and long-term goals. It's an opportunity to stay on track, and bounce ideas off of other women. Here's a helpful guide for hosting your own women's circle.