The two developed this strategy after interviewing dozens of potential Quilters. “They had this nervousness that they’d just talk instead of working,” Ms. Sumner said.
After a few quiet minutes in which Ms. Puno contemplated playing the “Jeopardy” theme song, the women stuck their notes to the wall and read them out loud. Tasks ranged from the accomplishable to the never ending, sometimes on the same Post-it (“Write to-do list, start to X off to-do list”). The women dispersed throughout the loft and the air, devices notwithstanding, filled with the sound of polite chatter.
“I used to go to a WeWork, and I never talked to anyone,” said Brianna Duran, 31, who works in marketing. “Besides the free drinks, which you can only do so many times, really, there wasn’t much benefit.”
“It’s bro-y too, isn’t it?” Ms. Mack said.
Anne Autio, a 26-year-old social media manager, said she had visited WeWork and Industrious, a local co-working space, “and I felt like I was constantly on display.”
By the second hour, Ms. Puno and Genevieve Fish, 27, the founder of the wellness website the Know Collective, were high-fiving over similar views on the definition of mental health (Ms. Fish: “it’s consistent self-care”) and the utility of the errand-outsourcing app TaskRabbit. Ms. Fish had recently hired Ms. Puno to design her site, but she still paid to attend the Quilt session. “I’ve been working at home for 18 months,” Ms. Fish said.
Quilt has raised $1 million from investors, its founders said. The Wing, by comparison, recently raised $32 million. But unlike a club occupying prime plots of land, Quilt has very little overhead and minimal barriers to entry. “There are plenty of women in Starbucks who would be happy to pay $20 a day to be around others like them,” said Sarah Harden, the president of Otter Media and an investor in Quilt.
A few hours after the co-working session ended, Ms. Sumner and Ms. Wurzl traveled to the home of Christina Topacio, the 30-year-old founder of Track, an accelerator for women who want to start a company, in central Los Angeles.
Ms. Sumner and Ms. Topacio were headlining a session about investment and vulnerability, and between the Quilters and Ms. Topacio’s vast network of female creatives, there weren’t enough seats to go around. By the door, a Quilt employee instructed arrivals to mind the excited barking dog and describe their current state of being on a name tag: “on the brink,” “stoked,” “optimistic,” “inspired.”
“I’m a junkie for anything involving women getting together,” said Kristel David, the founder of the women’s website Wife Complex, by a makeshift wine bar. Her name tag: “anxious.”
After the room took three collective breaths, Ms. Sumner and Ms. Topacio discussed learning to be a leader, how to ask for funding, and the balance between corporate stoicism and freewheeling emotion. Ms. Sumner asked how many people had cried that week; everyone raised their hand. “Last night, I ate a Sour Patch Kid and thought, ‘Oh my God, I can’t be a health coach!,’” said a woman in a chunky gray sweater.
As Ms. Wurzl had in the morning, Ms. Sumner invited attendees to describe a professional risk. Kathleen Mahoney, 57, talked about leaving her hometown and boyfriend 29 years ago, moving across the country and starting a music festival. “I had no idea what a business plan was,” she said.
Now a real estate investor, she is considering opening a community hub in Los Angeles, which prompted her to check out Quilt. “It has this very earthy, hippie kind of vibe that goes back to when I was a kid,” Ms. Mahoney said. “I haven’t seen it in years. There’s something really organic and natural that happens to women when they congregate inside of the home.”