Motherhood was a defining turning point in the lives of producer Jess Zaino and actor June Diane Raphael—and it was the experience that brought them together as co-founders of The Jane Club, a co-working space serving high-profile working women which they’ve dubbed a “matriarchal oasis.”
This week, Raphael and Zaino opened the doors to the Club, nestled in a Hancock Park neighborhood inside a renovated cottage, to Ms. for a live interview. The two women shared how the “mother of all workspaces” got born and explored the impact it’s had on their members, their community and their own lives—and what they hope comes next.
“There’s a relearning that has to go on in our culture,” Raphael told Ms. “If we valued caretakers—both domestic workers and mothers—that would change our world.”
The Jane Club is driving that relearning and recalibration process. Zaino and Raphael’s mission to “honor all work” echoes through the wide open spaces at the cottage, where members have access to whatever it is they may need to thrive—including a suite of amenities inspired by the co-founders’ own experiences juggling motherhood with ambition. Janes enjoy on-site child care, pilates classes and laundry services; take-home meals on-demand for feeding their families at the end of the day; and community events in the evening that give them the chance to come together.
“We did need this,” Raphael told Ms. “I need the childcare. I need the manicures. I need the blowout. I need the car washes. I needed the community—I did—to not feel like a lonely slob.”
Named for legendary organizer Jane Addams, in homage to her groundbreaking Hull House space for working-class women, The Jane Club also offers members empowerment. Janes can join feminist leaders in the space for nights of consciousness-raising and rabble-rousing; in advance of this year’s Women’s March, a group of Janes made signs and unpacked the movement’s divisions together. (Ms. was recently in attendance during a night at The Jane Club with Shannon Watts, of Moms Demand Action, who urged members to “get off the sidelines” and contact their lawmakers and neighbors about gun law reform.)
Raphael and Zaino, who are both raising boys, see offering such activism as a key part of their mission to break down the false dichotomy between women’s work lives and the rest of their lives—and lift up working moms. “Mothers have an inherent stake in our future,” Raphael said. “We are taking care of the next economy, and the future of the world. It’s no surprise to me to see so many mothers showing up right now in our country. Of course we are. We have to. We’re staring at tiny children, who are looking back at us, who were born and their president’s name is Donald Trump. We have to answer for that.”
Zaino echoed the sentiment, noting that she and Raphael are also both raising boys—which raises the stakes. “What we do now, both in [our children’s] lives and in our own,” she said, “is what the future looks like.”
If Zaino and Raphael get their way, that future will be feminist—and full of chances for all women to do more good work.