One Year In: Connecting Women, One Neighborhood Event at a Time

By Ashley Rigby

One year ago, I invited 45 cool, ambitious, kind, and funny women from my Prospect Heights, Brooklyn neighborhood to a ladies’ only networking and cocktail party at my apartment. When nearly every lady invited showed up, I delightfully thought, “WTF!?”

As any hostess knows, that’s an atypical response rate, but also freaking amazing. The invitation (which some of you received) included the following note:

I love entertaining. I also love this amazing group of friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. You are all way too talented and fabulous to not know one another. Let’s connect and make things happen, or at the very least, enjoy a cocktail or three with friends, old and new.

The party took place just as my sister Shawna and I were brainstorming blog and business ideas. We both felt underwhelmed by some aspect of our hard-earned careers. We were unsure of what to do next, where and how to lead, and unsure of whom to follow. By tapping into this uncertainty, frustration, excitement, and creativity, Jam Program was born. I have a feeling you know what I’m talking about here, because you feel it too.

The idea for Jam Program started a year ago, when Teri, Shawna and Ashley identified a need to connect fabulous women in real life.

The idea for Jam Program started a year ago, when Teri, Shawna and Ashley identified a need to connect fabulous women in real life.

Like many women, we rely on our mother for many things, and we asked if she would join us. She is the one that taught us from an early age how to create a warm and inviting home, how to be kind and curious, and how create something out of nothing. She’s always been a champion for the underdog and diversity. We needed her then and we need her now. She’s the foundation of our modern village.

Jam Program continues to evolve from month to month as we navigate our constraints (time, money, energy) and tap into our resources (you, our aunts and cousins, mentors, champions, ideas, passion, and courage). Over the past year we’ve hosted nine events (Networking Jamborees and Jam & Drinks) and helped connect, in person, nearly 300 women between Brooklyn, NY and West Hartford, CT. One thing has become increasingly clear: the desire to connect in real life and close to home is an ever-growing need. We’re going to continue to solve for that need as best we can. We urge you to join us. Get your neighbor-lady-friends and family in on it too! 

The desire to connect in real life and close to home is an ever-growing need.
Photographer Nomi Ellenson will co-host our next Jamboree in her Brooklyn studio. She’s skilled at making women feel beautiful and powerful - the perfect partner for Jam Program.

Photographer Nomi Ellenson will co-host our next Jamboree in her Brooklyn studio. She’s skilled at making women feel beautiful and powerful - the perfect partner for Jam Program.

To all of you that have attended a Jamboree or Jam & Drinks: we applaud you. Thank you for being brave. Thank you for showing up, opening up, and sharing with us what it is you need from your community and how you might be able to share your skills and talents.

Can we just agree that life is really fucking awesome and really fucking hard. So many of us are facing big life transitions: babies, careers, marriage, divorce, loss of parents and loved ones, retirement and other challenges life throws our way. No matter what we are going through, we all want support and a sense of purpose and belonging...and we don’t want to have to go the web or commute too damn far to get it.

In our quest to connect with amazing women doing cool shit locally, we struck gold when we found Boudoir by Nomi. Nomi uses her photography to bring inner beauty outwards. Her great-grandmother Selma was a bra fitter in Manhattan until the age of 95. She was famous for helping ladies find the right fit, while helping them feel fabulous and confident. Nomi channels that intention in her boudoir sessions. Of course, once Shawna and I found her, we had to do a shoot. I hate my stretched-out stomach and Shawna hates her flat boobs; but we loved our experience and love our photos. Acknowledging what you don’t like about yourself, but not letting it hold you back, is a powerful thing.

Acknowledging what you don’t like about yourself, but not letting it hold you back, is a powerful thing.

Lucky for you, our next Brooklyn Jamboree is Friday, February 1st at 6pm at Nomi’s beautiful Prospect Heights photography studio. Our clothes will stay on, but you can check your inner-critic at the door and get a sneak peek at this body-positive space and Nomi’s services. Join us and please invite other brave neighborhood ladies. Register HERE.

Our West Hartford will be on Friday, January 11, just as the holiday sparkle wears off. See events page for details.

PS - If you’re interested in attending/hosting an event but don’t live near us, reach out at jamborettes@jamprogram.com.