community

Fierce Females Band Together to Alleviate Winter Blues

By Shawna Kitzman

Does winter last half the year? Sometimes, that’s how it feels.

The dark days that start in early November trigger some internal clock that make me want to get under the covers at 8:30pm. Which is about 15 minutes after we tuck our kids in. Maybe that feeling of exhaustion is due to the rhythms of the season and sun. Maybe it’s a byproduct of my full life. Or both?

I write this as my 2-year old battles my laptop with a foam roller, and my middle daughter narrates an episode of Blue Earth that we’ve seen one too many times, and my oldest daughter chills quietly by my side.

The days may be short, but Jam Program makes the most of them to alleviate winter blues!

In January, we hosted a Jam & Drinks in Hartford to help pull other women out of winter doldrums. Jam & Drinks is a new event, meeting up at local businesses. We were delighted to mingle with old friends and new ladies at Hog River Brewery.

These ladies braved the biting cold to meet one another and share ideas, struggles, and hustles. Also, we served home-made cookies!

Fun fact: Hog River is owned by a couple Joy and Ben Braddock, and we aim to support-female owned local businesses whenever possible.

Speaking of female-owned businesses, our February Jamboree co-hosted with Nomi Ellenson of Boudoir by Nomi was a blast. What was the secret Jam sauce? It might’ve been the creative vibe of her Brooklyn photography studio, her make-up artist Jane, who provided complementary touch-ups, or Nomi’s laid back, pro-woman attitude that set the tone.

We warmed up from the bitter cold with rich conversations and sharing of ideas, while topping off glasses of Cabernet…and whiskey. Cozy!

Next up – and hopefully the farewell to winter event – is our March 10 Moms Demand Action – and Brunch! Jamboree. We’re co-hosting with the fierce lawyer/mom/activist/general delight Kate Martin, founder the Hartford Chapter of Moms Demand Action, and a few great ladies dedicated to making Connecticut safer from gun violence through common sense gun laws. We’ll take a few minutes out from networking to learn about this non-partisan group over coffee, mimosas, and bagels.

Register here if you haven’t yet – tickets are selling so don’t wait too long!

Kate Martin (left), with two of her children, her mom (center), fellow activists and Senator Chris Murphy demonstrate that it takes a village to get things done.

Kate Martin (left), with two of her children, her mom (center), fellow activists and Senator Chris Murphy demonstrate that it takes a village to get things done.

Lastly, check out this interview that Nan Price did with Shawna of Jam Program, for local blog Innovation Destination Hartford. Thanks for featuring us, Nan!

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.