June Diane Raphael and Jess Zaino want to make coming back from maternity leave easier for new moms. The actor-producer duo, mothers themselves, found themselves constantly apologizing for their own motherhood—so they decided to do something about it. Enter The Jane Club, a Los Angeles-based coworking space where working and mothering go hand in hand. Beyond a (staggeringly beautiful) workspace, the club also offers full-time childcare and amenities like gym space, car washes, and wellness exams.
Below, June and Jess talk about what inspired the club and the best advice they’ve ever received.
What inspired The Jane Club? What did you see missing from the market?
We were both apologizing for being mothers at work and apologizing for working outside of the home when we were with our kids. There was no single place where you could pursue ALL of your success: the success of your professional dreams and the success of your motherhood. We were incredibly wary of the conversations around “having it all” and wanted to create a space that actually built the walls to do that.
Tell us a little about the club itself. What unique problems does the club solve for working moms?
We call The Jane Club the “mother of all workspaces” because women come here to work, yes, but they can also have their children taken care of at The Nest. They can work out. They can meditate. They can shop. They can learn about a topic they didn’t know about. They can get a blowout. They can get their car washed. All in our space. The reason we are constantly offering our Janes (our term for members) services to make their lives easier (from mani pedis to flu shots) is because we understand all that women are doing, all that they are taking care of in their lives. We take care of the women who are taking care of everyone else.
We’ve gotta know—why is it called The Jane Club?
The Jane Club is inspired by Jane Addams, who paid the first month’s rent to start the first Jane Club for a group of working women in Chicago. Jane also co-founded the ACLU and was the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She is considered the “mother of social work.” We also love having women’s names on buildings.
What brought you two together as business partners? What do you think each other brings to the table that makes for a great partnership?
We met at a women’s progressive political group after the 2016 election and were both in need of what The Jane Club offered. When Jess came to June with the idea, it was a no-brainer. From there, we pulled together an incredible team of women, including our Co-CEOs Zoe Regan and Dori Howard, to launch the business.
We are very different people and have different ways of looking at things. As challenging as that can be, it’s also our greatest asset as partners. We are not afraid to have difficult conversations and “go there” with each other.
Can women really “have it all?” Is that a myth?
We believe this phrase has been launched at women without any infrastructure in place to actually support them “having it all”—and it’s had damaging results. The Jane Club is interested in creating real support for women in their real lives and honoring all the work that they do. Can you imagine a world in which taking care of our children, elderly parents, and ourselves was valued?
What advice would you give to new moms who are facing the same pressure you faced when returning to work?
First, we would ask if their employer would consider having them work out of The Jane Club for their first year back at work. They can have their infants with us at The Nest and breastfeed in any area of The Jane Club.
If that’s not possible, our advice would be to reach out to their village for help—to be honest about what they need.
What are the common challenges you've seen among female business owners and entrepreneurs?
Fundraising is more challenging for women than men, and proper funding is vital to the early stage of a business. Our incubator space was financed entirely by women who believed in our mission, and we are so proud of that.
We’ve had investors ask our team if our children were going to be OK with us working so hard at building our business. This comment is, of course, particularly infuriating, as men would never be asked the same question. But it’s also reinforced our belief that we need to rewrite the rules between women and work and change the conversation. The Jane Club is doing just that.
What’s the best “real talk” advice you’ve each received?
Jess: Ask for everything.
June: I received the best advice from my girlfriends after giving birth and heading back into the workforce. They told me that I would feel like I was failing all the time, and that if I took care of myself first, my children would do better.
What’s next for The Jane Club?
We have already outgrown our incubator space and are opening up our first official location in the spring of 2019 in LA. We know that the problems we are solving for women are not specific to Los Angeles, and we have plans to bring the Jane mission across the country.