There is something really special about the sisterhood that forms between moms. In fact, it's almost essential to our survival. Just the social aspect of getting together with women who understand what you're going through—whether it's to share your sleeping and feeding tips or avoid baby talk completely and discuss your ideas—can make all the difference. It's for this reason that two hip San Francisco moms started the Cool Moms Club. While the name started out as a joke between co-founders Katie Hinz-Zambrano, co-founder of Mother magazine, and Jeanne Chan, founder and lifestyle editor of Shop Sweet Things, it stuck as the group quickly grew (it now has over 330 members.) Not your typical stroller party, Cool Moms Club is a connected clique of creative-minded moms in design-centric industries across fashion, interiors, photography, and media, including stylish momfluencers Erica Coffman from Honestly WTF and photographer Sonya Yu. Intrigued by the concept, we quizzed Katie and Jeanne on what it's all about and how other moms can get in the clique.
MYDOMAINE: How did the concept of a Cool Moms Club come about?
KATIE HINTZ-ZAMBRANO: It was around February 2013, when I was pregnant with my only son and Jeanne just had her second daughter. We randomly started texting or emailing, and I think Jeanne said it first: “Should we start a moms’ group?” And I said, “I was just thinking the same thing; let’s do it!” From there, Jeanne said, “What should we call it?” and I suggested Cool Moms Club, which was sort of a joke. I even remember Jeanne saying that her husband George rolled his eyes at the idea, and how if you call yourself cool, you're probably not all that cool. But we just stuck with it and threw up a Facebook page to get it rolling. Overall, it’s a community of our friends and their friends, many of whom are creative types with ties to design-centric industries like fashion, interiors, and photography.
MD: How often do you catch up, and what happens at a Cool Moms Club gathering?
JEANNE CHAN: We've done a variety of events, from kid-friendly meetups at parks and clothing swaps to holiday parties and a series of networking events, which one of our members, Temi Adamolekun of Pembroke PR, has helped organize. Past networking topics have included "Social Media for Your Business," "Mom Boss 101," and "The Business of Fashion and Retail." Depending on the event, we'll have a panel of experts pulled from different moms in the club. We've also been lucky to hold our events at spaces some of our members own or work at, like Collectively Inc., The Butterfly Joint, Hipstamatic, The Podolls, Catherine Kwong Design, and Parabo Press. These events often lead to an incredible night of exchanging ideas and best practices, real-life stories (especially ones that moms can relate to), and making invaluable connections personally and professionally.
MD: What is the overall aim of the club?
KHZ: It began as a way for like-minded mothers to gather and set up play dates or ask parenting questions, but now it’s become a really valuable networking tool for everyone involved. Our Facebook forum is used for a variety of purposes, from asking about the best non-fugly baby gym and inquiring about business-related questions to posting about nanny shares and upcoming events.
MD: Can you tell us about some of the moms who are in the club?
JC: It’s safe to say that most of our moms come from the creative fields. Professions include editors; bloggers; digital influencers in parenting, lifestyle, fashion, and food; retail shop owners in fashion, lifestyle, and kids; artists; designers; photographers; digital media; public relations; and marketing. It’s really everyone from Megan Papay and Christina Palomo-Nelson of Freda Salvador, to Erin Hiemstra of Apartment 34, Erica Chan Coffman of HonestlyWTF, and Courtney Klein of Storq.
MD: Can you share any stories about some of the moms who have met and gone on to do business together or become great friends?
KHZ: I have met so many incredible women who have become great friends through the Cool Moms Club. The Class of 2013 baby group especially. I feel like we've all helped each other's businesses grow. One of the best connections I’ve made is my now very close friend Anna Chiu, who recently launched the womenswear line Kamperett. I even co-hosted her launch party! She used to work at Restoration Hardware, which led to an awesome business partnership between RH Baby & Child and my company, Mother. We originally met at a Cool Moms Club Valentine’s Day event at my house two years ago—Anna was giving me sleep-training advice while her son spit up all over my carpet. Ha!
MD: Is it kid-friendly or moms only?
JC: We organize both types. The kid-friendly ones are nice because it gives our kids a chance to meet and to also connect with moms who have kids around the same age. They make a great icebreaker! But we all know that it’s hard to have a real conversation in a child-filled room, so we also host moms-only events, which are really popular. That way we all get to have a chance to chat and get to know each other without getting distracted by an unexpected toddler spill or diaper change.
MD: How can moms join the club?
KHZ: We are trying to keep the club somewhat intimate and special, even though it’s grown to over 330 members. To apply, we ask members to nominate their friends by emailing Jeanne and I and telling us a little about the “cool mom” they are nominating. Once Jeanne and I have time to vet and think it's a good fit, we’ll add the new mom to the club via Facebook. Right now, we probably have around 50 nominees to sort through, just due to busyness with our business and home lives.
MD: Is the club only available to moms who live in San Francisco, or do you see this concept going global?
JC: Right now, the club is open to moms in San Francisco Bay Area. While most of our members are from here, I think almost half of our club members are also from the East Bay and the Peninsula. We want to keep this club organic and special, so we don’t have any major plans to expand it. However, if the opportunity arises, and if we have trusty cool moms to run the club in their local cities, an expansion may just benefit the club as a whole.
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