What to do when your parents finances change and you have to become an instant financial grownup with Quilt co-founder Ashley Sumner

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Quilt co-founder Ashley Sumner faced a totally unexpected and massive tuition bill mid-way through college after her dad’s business took a hit in the recession. The skills she learned in rising to the challenge led her first to a matchmaking business, and later to create  Quilt- a tech platform that connects female entrepreneurs online and in person.  

In Ashley's money story you will learn:

  • How her father, who was a multi-millionaire, lost almost everything around 2008

  • Why she went through a huge shift a couple years into college with paying for college

  • How the shift during her senior year helped her to see it was time to start taking care of herself

  • Why she decided to start a business rather than just getting a job

"We can architect the way we want our lives to be, and we don’t need to follow any traditional step by step or climbing the ladder”

In Ashley’s money lesson you will learn:

  • How she learned how to take care of herself

  • How she learned how to become resourceful

  • Why you shouldn't be ashamed of your student debt

"I knew that it was time to learn. Learn how to take care of myself. It was terrifying”

In Ashley's everyday money tip you will learn:

  • What the abandoned cart method is and how you can save money with discount codes by using it

"It was empowering to understand how resourceful I am and how I could come up with non-traditional ways of making money"

In My Take you will learn:

  • Ashley talked about the shame of debt. The reality is that debt can be a way to accomplish a goal. As Ashley says - get rid of the mental trash.

  • Be sensitive and aware of what is happening financially to your parents and to other members of your family


Episode Links:

Melanie Lockhart's Financial Grownup episode

Lola conference


Check out Ashley's website -

www.WeAreQuilt.com


Follow Ashley!


Transcription

Ashley Sumner:
My father, who had financially supported me my entire life, while I was the middle way going through school at NYU, which is arguably one of the most expensive private schools in the country, went from being a multimillionaire and extremely wealthy man to basically losing everything.

Bobbi Rebell:
You're listening to Financial Grown Up with me, certified financial planner, Bobbi Rebell, author of How To Be A Financial Grown Up. And you know what? Being a grown up is really hard, especially when it comes to money. But it's okay, we're going to get there together. I'm going to bring you one money story from a financial grown up, one lesson and then my take on how you can make it your own. We got this.

Bobbi Rebell:
Hey friends, we talk a lot here about financial planning, financial stability, financial freedom, all that stuff. For some of us we get to delay the really big stuff like massive tuition bills until later in life thanks to support from our parents. So we are able to focus on our dreams and ambitions and not the bills, so cool. Except when that plan falls apart. Welcome everyone, new listeners, glad you discovered us. I want to personally invite you to be part of our community, learn more on my website, BobbiRebell.com, where you can sign up for our newsletter, get the show notes with all the links of everything we talk about and this is new by the way, even transcripts of the show. You can also check out the fun promo videos that we create for every episode.

Bobbi Rebell:
Let's get to our guest who thankfully was able to come up with a backup plan very fast and get back on track with her dreams and ambitions after life threw her a curve ball. Ashley Sumner is the co founder, along with Gianna Wurzel of Quilt. A platform that connects female entrepreneurs in a very innovative way and we get into some very specific details in this episode of how it all works. This is not Ashley's first company, she actually started a matchmaking company at the ripe old age of 24. More recently she paid off her student loans, there's so much more you're going to want to know about this incredible and inspiring woman. Here is Ashley Sumner.

Bobbi Rebell:
Hey, Ashley Sumner, you're a financial grown up, welcome to the podcast.

Ashley Sumner:
Thank you for having me Bobbi.

Bobbi Rebell:
You are the co founder of a very cool company that I am fascinated by called Quilt. It's a tech platform, so it's a technology company but it's all about connecting people in real life.

Ashley Sumner:
Yes, that's right, we are a tech platform, we power our hosts to gather community in their homes whether it's for kind of topic driven conversation, education sessions, coworking or interviews around the country and make money doing it.

Bobbi Rebell:
Which sounds amazing. By the way I do want to give a quick thank you, shout out to our mutual friend; Melanie Lockhart, who you spoke actually at the Lola Conference which is all about connecting women in real life. So Melanie actually is the reason that we connected. Let's talk about your money story, it has to do with your college years and so many people can relate to figuring out how to pay for college but that was actually ironically not something that you could relate to when you started college until something happened. What's your money story Ashley?

Ashley Sumner:
Yes, it's definitely not the lesson I thought I was going to be learning during those formative years. I can say that I'm very grateful for my upbringing, my family worked very hard, were entrepreneurs and we had a very financially stable life. My father, who had financially supported me my entire life, while I was the middle way going through school at NYU, which is arguably one of the most expensive private schools in the country, went from being a multimillionaire and extremely wealthy man to basically losing everything.

Bobbi Rebell:
What, just quickly, what had happened? Was he in an industry that changed?

Ashley Sumner:
Yeah, he's a land developer. He's an interest, he has a fascinating story, he kind of grew up with nothing, ran away from home, built up his entire career, learned this real estate trade and land development, moved west, one of the kind of first guys to go out and build land and I think during the financial crash while I was at school in 2008 everything changed and it really wasn't kind of prepared for it. He's actually since rebuilt himself up so his story is a fascinating one financially as well. But it was definitely-

Bobbi Rebell:
Well, that's a relief to hear that.

Ashley Sumner:
Yeah.

Bobbi Rebell:
So you went to college with basically the understanding that you were not focused on financing your own college, it was going to be paid for, but I take it there wasn't actual money in an account that was separated?

Ashley Sumner:
Yeah, exactly. He was going to pay for the entirety of it, that was a huge part of my decision actually to go and be a musical theater major, because everybody knows you don't really graduate diving into a six figure salary and yeah that was a huge shift that took place a couple of years in, right while I was gearing up to start auditioning.

Bobbi Rebell:
So what was the talk like? What happened, did you just get a phone call one day that, "Honey, the money that was set aside for your college I need to use to rebuild my business." Or was it a gradual process, what was it like?

Ashley Sumner:
It was kind of an ongoing conversation, I mean I saw him struggle quite a bit and I've always been grateful for his capacity to show up and financially support me, throughout all of my dreams and very precocious childhood, lots of very big dreams to move to New York City from this small town. It was something that had been happening year over year and he really did try to continue to show up and support me and it was really more towards the end when I was graduating and trying to finalize my final year and where I was going to live and what I was going to start doing that we kind of came to an understanding that it was time. And I had this weird kind of desire to also ... I knew that it was time to learn, learn how to take care of myself, it was terrifying.

Ashley Sumner:
But I also knew that it was one of those things that I just trusted was going to really teach me some of the foundational things that I needed to know that I honestly beleive are the reason why I'm here today as a founder and I've been able to raise money and do some of the things that I'm so grateful to be able to do.

Bobbi Rebell:
One of the things I love is the next part of the story which is rather than just getting a job, you started a business.

Ashley Sumner:
I did. Yeah, I am definitely scrappy and the daughter of entrepreneurs, I can say that. I figured out that I had a knack in sales but not just any sales, in the space of matchmaking, so I had started, I had a start up in the matchmaking space and ultimately went on to have my own with some partners. And yeah it was just a skill that I had, you needed very little to get started outside of an ability to meet with and connect with people and listen to their needs and provide that value and that's very much the beginning of my community development career which has led me to my passion and purpose in helping others connect.

Bobbi Rebell:
Because like, and we're going to go back and talk more about Quilt, but it does make sense because you're matchmaking. Instead of romantic matchmaking you're actually matchmaking for different kinds of relationships. I do want to just touch on the fact that while you were doing this, first working for somebody but then very much an entrepreneurial venture, you still kept auditioning and I think that's really inspiring because it shows people that you don't have to give up one dream to fund the other dream.

Ashley Sumner:
Absolutely.

Bobbi Rebell:
You were able to do both.

Ashley Sumner:
Yeah, you know we're in the hyphen-hyphen-hyphen and I've been very proud of the multitude, I think, of starting off as soft skills and now hard skills that I've always had, an ability, I think, to architect. We can architect the way we want our lives to be and we don't need to kind of follow any traditional step by step or climbing a ladder and I'm grateful that my parents taught me that.

Bobbi Rebell:
You've been able to do a lot of multitasking and multi ... I don't even know what the right word is but you're perfect for the gig economy. So what would the lesson from this for our listeners from this? Because you had a lot happening as you were moving through your final year at NYU.

Ashley Sumner:
I think so much of having debt which I was under the weight of until six months ago is the head trash that comes along with it. I think there's a lot of shame and judgment and guilt around having that and seeing that there and there really are a lot of, I don't need to bore you with all of the ways that are out there, the practical ways that you can kind of chip off and get above water and start to breathe again. But I think kind of the mental game that it can play on you if you don't learn how to let go and understand that it's just a day by day, month by month, year by year planning, that's kind of my tip which is don't make it worse by also being so hard on yourself.

Bobbi Rebell:
I think a lot of us, not only judge other people, but judge ourselves too harshly.

Ashley Sumner:
Yeah, absolutely, I am my harshest critic. I was very ashamed to even share it with anyone, I kind of felt a little bit like an imposter or a fraud in having it. But every time I looked at it my refrain was like, "Those choices helped me get to where I am today and I'm so happy where I am today." So otherwise, who knows if I hadn't take that risk if it woudln't have led to now?

Bobbi Rebell:
And now you're very money savvy, you have a everyday money tip to share that I also use, but I'm going to let you share it because I think it's so genius, it really gives you almost an adrenaline high I think when it works.

Ashley Sumner:
Yeah.

Bobbi Rebell:
Go for it.

Ashley Sumner:
Yeah, you know I have to give our head of product kudos for this, who teaches me all of those like tech savvy things. But I recently moved and I've recently learned about the abandoned cart method, when you're buying certain things online, just like leave it in the cart, walk away, go have a bit, go for a workout and then you come back and there's a miraculous little discount code hanging out in your inbox. So I think I've saved about $500 in the past few days on all of the new items that are on it's way to my home.

Bobbi Rebell:
So tell me more about Quilt, so Quilt is it's a tech platform but it's really about, as I said, connecting in real life. How did you even come up with the concept? And how can people get involved?

Ashley Sumner:
Of course. I met my business partner Gianna Wurzel a few years ago, I was a community developer at large brands in the membership space and in building out massive physical spaces, you know hundred thousand square foot spaces, she was very passionate about supporting female entrepreneurs and creating environments that they could connect and thrive in. And when we met we really aligned on a desire to use technology not to replace offline connection but to facilitate it and we both felt very passionate about how much space matters and how much small groups of individuals matter so that everybody feels comfortable, like they can have a voice and they can ask questions.

Ashley Sumner:
So today we are in LA and New York and we have been testing all of these other cities, we have the city organizer and ambassador programs that are launching on training community building and that's really how we're kind of choosing the next city that we're going to be in. So really if you want to host, if you want to attend or you want to apply to help build community alongside of us, whether LA or New York, or San Francisco or Atlanta or D.C., we've had so many women writing in from all over, that's really the best way to get involved today.

Bobbi Rebell:
So how does it actually work? Walk me through the process.

Ashley Sumner:
Yeah, so if you're a guest, essentially you go to wearequilt.com, you can see a calendar of hundreds of gatherings in different cities, whether it's nine AM for a chat or the middle day for coworking or an evening interview from an expert or an education session on the weekends. You can literally see and read through all of the hosts offerings and you can pay per gathering so anywhere from nine dollars to 50 dollars per gathering, depending on the time and kind of what that offering is and then you show up to that woman's home and you sit there and you learn or you work or you chat and you basically can keep showing up and keep attending.

Ashley Sumner:
If you want to be a host you can apply and you'll go through our onboarding process and have access to our host portal, to be able to decide what is that thing that you want to open your home for, we're completely here to help you market your home, figure out what pictures are right, how to communicate your skills and really help women step into their power of celebrating the gifts that they have to offer and how to market themselves.

Bobbi Rebell:
And so the hosts offer, do they offer wifi? Do they offer food and drink? How does it work? And they get a share of the profits I assume? Of the revenue?

Ashley Sumner:
They do, they get a share of the revenue, they get most of it outside of service fees and charging fees on our platform. And also if it's coworking there's amenities list, so you can say dog or a cat maybe present, you say wifi, coffee will be on, there's a private meeting room, there's a table you can sit down on, a back yard you can pace in. I'm a stand and talk, pacing person when I have conversations so all of that is in there for coworking specifically, usually starts with a 30 minute kind of come together, hear what everybody's up to, post what they're going to get done for that day so it's a really accountable and productive time. Probably in a three or four hour increment.

Ashley Sumner:
One of the main products that has done really well in our platform and really been the foundation to our community has been these one hour chats, so they'll come together and have a circle conversation with a guided set of questions around whether it's money or leadership or desire, they kind of pick that topic and they follow this guide and really awaken a conversation among the community and that's everywhere from 21 year olds first job all the way up to 60-70 year old retirees and everyone in between coming together and really sharing where they're at in their journey and how to support one another.

Bobbi Rebell:
You are onto something really, really big Ashley, where can people be in touch with you and find out more? All your socials, all that stuff.

Ashley Sumner:
Yeah, all it okay so, wearequilt is our handle. Wearequilt.com is our website and on there if you do want to apply to be a city organizer and come learn alongside of us how to build community for yourself and for Quilt, the application is there. You can also apply to host there. And if you want to reach out and chat with us directly, you can just email hello@wequilt.com.

Bobbi Rebell:
Thank you Ashley.

Ashley Sumner:
Thank you.

Bobbi Rebell:
Okay my friends, Ashley dropped a lot of information for us to digest, here is my take. Financial Grown Up tip number one; Ashley talked about the shame of debt. The reality is that debt can be a way to accomplish goals, so if you have debt for a good reason, and I'm not talking about excessive shopping sprees and all that stereotypical stuff, but I'm talking about good stuff. In her case paying for a great college education, as Ashley says, get rid of the mental trash, do not be ashamed, if it's your thing to talk about it externally, to socialize it, to talk to people about it because for some people accountability can really motivate you to pay it off faster or to figure out the right plan for you. But it's also okay to be something that you don't talk about, it doesn't have to be everyone's business, not everything about your finances for sure needs to be public, it's okay to keep it private.

Bobbi Rebell:
Financial Grown Up tip number two; be sensitive and aware of what is happening financially to your parents, as is appropriate, at the appropriate age, however you define it and also of course to other members of your family, your generation and other generations. Ashley was so gracious in speaking about her fathers experiences, wealth is not always consistent, we'd like it to be, we can do things in our control to create financial stability but sometimes well a recession hits, as happened. Or an investment just doesn't perform as you had hoped and has all the research and how all the research had implied it would work. Or a business is simply struggling, things go through cycles, life is messy as they say. If your parents or members of your family can help you, maybe it's grandparents, maybe it's aunts, uncles, siblings, whatever, say thank you. But for the times that they can't, be there for them in the way that makes sense for your family.

Bobbi Rebell:
One way to protect your investments is to stay up on the news. I am on a mission along with my cohost Joe Saul-Sehy, from Stacking Benjamins, with my new podcast Money In The Morning. We want to help the Financial Grown Up community learn from the latest headlines, take tidbits of information and turn it into things you can do to live a richer life. So please check out Money In The Morning with, as I mentioned, myself and my cohost Joe Saul-Sehy.

Bobbi Rebell:
Big thanks to Ashley Sumner of Quilt, everyone check it out, for helping us all get one step closer to being Financial Grown Ups. Financial Grown Up with Bobbi Rebell is edited and produced by Steve Steward and is a BRK Media production.