Alisha Ramos started to notice a few years back that she and her friends just weren’t vibing with the whole bar-hopping, wild night out thing. Instead, they found themselves gravitating towards staying in, watching a show on Netflix and heading to bed a bit earlier.
“After I reached a certain age about a year or two ago, things like going out to the bar didn’t resonate with me anymore. I would much rather go home and Netflix and chill and be in bed by 10,” Ramos told DC Inno. “Around me, I saw people who felt the same way.”
She wanted to find a way to connect everyone who felt the same in one big community, but she wasn’t sure how or when or where. Then the election happened.
“It was just really draining for a lot of people—for both Republicans and Democrats,” Ramos said. “I actually had a friend who had these salons at her apartment to gather people and say ‘OK, this thing happened. It’s terrible for a lot of us, and let’s just get together and have meaningful connections.'”
Then that random idea to form a community for like-minded ladies who just want to sit back and enjoy each other’s company came back to her. Called Girls’ Night In, Ramos launched her newsletter for “boss women who’d rather stay in tonight” at the end of January and the subscriber numbers are already in the thousands.
“It’s been so crazy, and I don’t even know how it happened,” Ramos said. “We’re not releasing official numbers to the public yet, but it’s all in the thousands, and that’s all organic.”
Girls’ Night In is delivered to your inbox each Friday, featuring a Q&A with the “GNI Woman of the Week,” a list of 10 things the team is doing at home that week and links to stories perfect for brunch discussions. Technically, Ramos is the only employee at Girls’ Night In, but she works with a few D.C. women on the Q&As or photographs.
So, it might go without saying, that her workflow is key to getting the newsletter out at the same time each week. At all times, Ramos has an Evernote tab opened with the basic shell of a GNI newsletter. If she clicks on something that makes her smile or laugh or think, she adds it to the list of links to include. “I try to never add hard news or anything that is a downer. Anything that you wouldn’t discuss with your friends at brunch,” Ramos said. By Wednesday night, Ramos easily has 50-60 links to share.
Q&As are a little different.
“For a good Q&A, I’m trying to spend more time now getting to know the person before I talk to them,” Ramos said. “For example, we have an interview coming up with Mollie Chen, who is the co-founder of Birchbox. I’ve been following her for a while, and I also want to get a good understanding of who she is outside of Birchbox so that when we do our interview we can dig a little deeper.”
The newsletter was really an accident, to be honest.
Ramos’ philosophy on interviewees has worked well for her. She’s already profiled Teen Vogue contributor Lily Herman and Vox Media engineer Pamela Assogba. “It’s just so cool to interview really inspiring women and hear their stories,” Ramos said.
A lot of that has to do with the lessons she’s learned through her own career in technology and media. Ramos is currently a designer at Nava, the software company formed by the techies sent in to fix Healthcare.gov in 2013. Before then, she was the Product Design Director at Vox Media. Maybe you can say that her tech lady ways are influencing how she runs her business, Ramos said.
“Because my background is in engineering and product, I could save a lot of money that way,” she said. “I know how to design things, so that also comes in handy and in building a brand. For women in my generation, they really gravitate towards brands and our products.”
And a newsletter isn’t the only product Girls’ Night In has planned. “Where do I even start?” Ramos said when asked about the company’s future plans. The growing community now has it’s own book club (the first book is “Swing Time” by Zadie Smith), Ramos has vague plans for a few in-person meetups around D.C., they’re expanding their Instagram presence (using the hashtag #GNIVibes) and one day, they want to break into retail.
“The newsletter was really an accident, to be honest,” Ramos said about GNI. “I’m treating the newsletter as our first product and our second product will be this retail concept.”
“All of these products are laddering up to our really big vision which is to reimagine the nighttime routines of millennial women.”
Right now, though, Ramos is focused on taking it all in. Honestly, she didn’t expect the newsletter to grow as much as it has so far. A few weeks ago, GNI was featured in The Wall Street Journal. One weekend, Ramos spent five hours straight replying to reader emails.
“You know the thing that you’re supposed to do when you start a company, and you email them and beg them to signup,” Ramos said. “I haven’t even done that. This is literally just people forwarding it to a friend.”
Images courtesy of Girls’ Night In. Photographer: Sloane Dakota Tucker; Styling: Kara Schab