CEO and Founder of “Girl’s Night In” Sends Us Her Newsletter Insight.
By Anna Meyer
Photography by Sloane Tucker
Newsletters are basically the “analog” feed. You can receive a mix of news, insights on your favorite brands and a heads up on which musicians are on tour in your city, all to break up the never ending flow of work messages.
The Riveter is no stranger to newsletters (in case you’re late to the party, you can sign up on our home page), and our approach to the medium is as a magazine wanting to share stories, good reads and fun events with readers. When Alisha Ramos took to writing her newsletter about mixed-race identities, Mixed Feelings, she approached newsletters as a way to share something she experienced in her own life with others who’ve been through the same. She also launched her latest company, Girl’s Night In, with a newsletter that brings together women who’d rather take it easy at home than go out to the bars for the umpteenth time.
After first launching Girl’s Night In with a newsletter and after cultivating a community of writers interested in topics about identifying as mixed-race, Ramos has achieved an impressive background in using newsletters as a means of creating a community. I asked her all about how she goes about creating newsletters and why she decided to go this route in the first place.
Anna Meyer: Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions about your current projects, Girl’s Night In and Mixed Feelings. It takes a lot of ambition and dedication to start up your own company and to lead communities; what kind of experiences led you to creating both of your projects?
Alisha Ramos: I started Girls’ Night In because I was seeing two big trends happening around me and all my friends. First, we’re all in our mid- to late-twenties, and I saw everyone starting to burn out at work and in their personal lives too. Second, I saw that we were all getting tired of the whole “let’s go to a bar and rage until two in the morning” scene and we craved more meaningful ways to connect and develop our friendships with one another. Instead of going out, we were staying in more and hosting simple dinners and gatherings. Girls’ Night In is sort of the answer to both of those trends. It’s okay to relax and take a breather for yourself. Being social doesn’t mean having to go to to all these crazy parties. It can mean staying in and hosting a relaxed gathering instead.
With Mixed Feelings, it was less intentional, to be honest. I was bored one day and felt a sudden desire to write and share my experience with the world in a very intimate setting. After launching that newsletter, I was very surprised that people wanted to hear about my experiences as a mixed-race person. It made me realize that sharing my own experiences can help gather other like-minded people into a community.
AM: When deciding on a platform for Mixed Feelings, why did you choose newsletters as a way to build a community and space to discuss mixed-race identities?
AR: I felt that a newsletter was a safe and intimate setting, more so than a blog or a video channel or some other thing. I also think that email is really interesting as a platform: it’s pretty ancient in internet-terms, yet we rely on it every day. For many people, email is the first thing they check when they wake up.
And so I think a newsletter helps you develop a really unique relationship and dialogue with your readers. In an email setting, it’s natural to want to hit reply and send your thoughts to the person who’s writing directly to you. I’ve found that engagement is much higher with readers when you send newsletters, especially if you’re remaining authentic, vulnerable, and real. People don’t want “brands” or “communities” to email you – they want real human beings to email you and share their stories.
AM: What kind of strategies do you use with Mixed Feelings to offer a newsletter that is authentic, interesting and accessible to your audience?
AR: To be honest, I never thought of a strategy for Mixed Feelings! I just wrote about what I know. Stories from my childhood, something that bothered me that day. I think those personal essays really resonated with many people. I’m taking these lessons from Mixed Feelings into Girls’ Night In.
AM: How has the Girls’ Night In newsletter influenced your ideas for the brand as a whole?
AR: I’m so glad you asked this question! Girls’ Night In is not a newsletter company. I think most people think that we are, which is totally fair because the newsletter is the only thing we produce right now. But the original vision for Girls’ Night In as a business is much, much bigger. Writing the newsletter has been an absolutely incredible experience in validating some of the product ideas I had for Girls’ Night In as a company and as a brand. Just three months after launching, we have thousands of subscribers. The response has been amazing!
So in that sense it’s incredibly validating. To answer your question, I think the newsletter is helping shape the brand completely. It’s been an excellent test bed for creating experiments that help define who our audience is and what our audience’s needs are. The feedback we’ve gotten from readers is incredibly helpful and continues to shape the plans we have for the future of the company.
AM: Do you think you’ll keep the Girls’ Night In Newsletter as the brand grows?
AR: Yes, absolutely!
AM: Why do you think this is the best form/one of the better forms of communication between you and your customers/readers?
AR: I think the newsletter has become a cornerstone of maintaining a direct and intimate relationship with our audience. I really love the dialogue that’s happening and the conversations we’re sparking. I love how honest and frank we can be in the newsletter. Email is an old medium and platform, but at the same time it doesn’t feel stodgy or stale at all — it is ripe for something new, fun, and different.
AM: What other newsletters and/or newsletter communities do you subscribe to? Have any of them influenced how you approach your own projects’ newsletters?
AR: I am subscribed to so many. Obviously, I have to give a shoutout to Carly and Danielle at TheSkimm. They have validated the idea that you can grow a massive and highly engaged audience through email as your main platform and driver of growth. I read that every morning. I also love Clover Letter, which is aimed towards teenage girls but is super handy for me to read to understand what all the hip kids are up to these days. I am also a huge fan of some indie newsletters run by friends: Kelsey McKinney has a wonderful one about pop culture and personal reflections, Nisha Chittal has a nice recap of women-related articles called The Week in Lady News.
AM: How do you see Mixed Feelings and Girls’ Night In evolving in the next year or so?
AR: I think given my time constraints, my focus will be on Girls’ Night In. I’ll most likely use Mixed Feelings if I need an extra creative outlet to share social or cultural commentary, but my hands are pretty full with Girls’ Night In! Currently, we’re doing a fresh rebrand for Girls’ Night In, developing an ambassadors program, and prototyping our first real products to put into the marketplace. We’ll also be hosting a couple of events in cities like Washington, D.C. and Austin, TX centered on wellness and female friendships. So watch out for those!
Anna Meyer is The Riveter’s Digital Editorial Assistant. She is a Minneapolis native currently pursuing journalism and English at the University of Kansas. You’re most likely to catch her either throwing back espresso shots, planning for her next trip abroad or writing down ideas for stories in her notebook. Follow her on Instagram (@annavmeyer) and stay updated with her work via her personal website.
Alisha Ramos is the CEO and Founder of Girls’ Night In, a company building products for boss women who’d rather stay in tonight. Previously, she was a Director of Product Design at Vox Media designing and developing products at the intersection of technology and media. Prior to that, she was a brand strategy consultant working with Fortune 500 companies at Prophet, a global firm. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and History from Harvard University. Twitter: @alishalisha