While there are industries built on the notion of going out, the nightclub circuit and parties, Girls’ Night In focuses on bringing the party, inside. The D.C.-based editorial platform and newsletter is described as a “Self-care community for women who’d rather stay in tonight,” and in an era where staying in is the new going out, it’s hitting all the right notes.
Launched in early 2017 by Alisha Ramos, the core of Girls’ Night In is its weekly newsletter, which is sent to over 150K subscribers every Friday morning. Its mission is clear: to help women relax, recharge, and cultivate a more meaningful sense of community in an increasingly lonely and stressful world. The weekly newsletters feature links to stories and inspiration on the topic of self-care and connection, with sponsored stories and product links as a source of revenue.
The focus on rich editorial content was a natural pivot for Ramos, who was always passionate about writing and journalism while studying Sociology and History at Harvard University (she was Editor-in-Chief of The Harvard Voice).
With roles in brand strategy and management consulting, followed by a position as director of product design on the revenue side of Vox media, Ramos was exposed to the intersection of revenue, technology and media early on in her career. But it was her job at NAVA, where she served as product design lead on healthcare.gov, which turned out to be a pivotal moment in her career: the 2016 election occurred a week after she joined the company, which made for an anxiety-fueled, confusing phase. This led to a period of reflection about her next move.
“I wanted to create something that celebrates friendship. I love hosting my friends for a night in and I wanted to capture the spirit of intimacy, the idea of gathering, slowing down, and connecting with other people ,” Ramos explains.
So she came up with the brand name Girls’ Night In and started it as a side hustle, by sending out her first newsletter on a Friday morning in January 2017.
With big plans for expansion that include doubling down on GNI’s offline community, Ramos recently raised a pre-seed round of $500,000 from SV Angel, Third Kind Capital and Combine VC.
Her biggest tips for how she went about securing this funding?
For starters: “Have a clear outline of how much that money will get you, and related to that piece of advice, get incredibly comfortable with your numbers. I worked very hard on an extremely, almost excruciatingly detailed financial model for the next five years, and that really helped me get a fuller picture of exactly what amount I needed.”
Investors wanted to hear exactly what the money she was raising would get her, what was on her roadmap and what she was planning to achieve.
Another important tip: become a LinkedIn power user.
Ramos continues: “ Get shameless about asking for help and asking for connections. I did a lot of LinkedIn digging. I created a target list of dream investors and investors who are interested in the space that we’re in. And if I didn’t have a direct connection to that investor, I would ask someone in my LinkedIn network how to get to that person. So it does take a lot of perseverance.”
So far, grit and perseverance have paid off: Girls’ Night In struck a chord with other women who are also looking for community while enjoying the “joy of missing out” (FOMO’s self-care focused antithesis).
“When Girls’ Night In launched, self-care was on the cusp of being defined and on this upward trajectory.” The concept of community is further cultivated with a monthly book club; followers who can’t join IRL at the meet-ups (which are currently held in nine U.S. cities) can join in the discussion with the hashtag #GNIreads. “We try to provide coverage of book club gatherings from a perspective of ‘even if you can’t make it IRL we want to make it feel as if you’re there, so you can tune into some of the discussions and conversations that are happening and get a feel for the environment too.” The selection process for the monthly picks must meet this criteria: the book is written by a woman or non-binary author, it’s available or accessible to the community, and that it’s a book that will allow for a lively discussion.
And while the newsletter is sent right before the weekend, GNI recently started a new series about work called “The GNI Water Cooler” (because let’s be honest, the lines between work, play and life are incredibly blurred today).
With plans this year and beyond for more upcoming events, Ramos “hopes to produce unique immersive experiences for our community that aligns with their passions while also sparking new friendships and bringing Girls’ Night In to life. We want to create this safe space where we are having these vulnerable conversations about self-care, relationships, mental health, and we want to help people feel less alone in that way.”
In the meantime, those connections are coming alive thanks to GNI’s content, which gives a voice to these types of topics.
“We think of content less as this megaphone and more, ‘let’s have an actual conversation and let’s have a dialogue and create something together.'”