Meet Molly Goodson of The Assembly, A Women's Clubhouse in San Francisco
As soon as we walked into the The Assembly, it felt like an architecture of light with California bohemian. I was hypnotized by Joni Mitchell as her music played throughout the common space. The space itself is built on community. A historic building that was once a church and was rehabilitated after the 1906 earthquake. In its past life people congregated there and today women come not just to congregate, The Assembly provides an instant support system of women for women who want to focus on wellness and other endeavors. In the same vein of a traditional men's club, The Assembly is a membership clubhouse for modern women who want to better themselves, whether it's creating new friendships, learning a new skill or finding a respite from the hectic speed of city life.
On a sunny, mellow Sunday afternoon as a Mother's Day Brunch was wrapping up in the tranquil garden downstairs, we chatted with co-founder Molly Goodson on how this urban oasis and community is benefitting women in San Francisco.
The Assembly has been given a lot of different names from a clubhouse to a workout club. What are three words that you feel is important to associate with what The Assembly does and provides?
Community, curation, connection.
As a female entrepreneur opening a membership club that support other females and their goals, has there been any new business challenges? Anything that you had to go through and work out, that could inspire others starting a business?
Any new business goes through tons of challenges (of course). I had never opened a space before, so there was a steep learning curve on that one. I would recommend to anyone to find a supportive co-founder — I can't imagine going through this alone! It's nice to have someone to talk to, vent to, fall back on, and you know, occasionally blame things on. What has been incredible, though, has been the outpouring of support from other female entrepreneurs, especially ones who have built similar communities. Rachel Khong who founded The Ruby around the same time that we opened The Assembly has become a good friend and confidant throughout the process.
Describe an average day like at The Assembly.
The morning starts with 6 am emails before a 7 am class — STRONGER, our signature 45 minute strength training class — is a great way to start the day. After a quick rinse in our gorgeous outdoor shower designed by Katie Gong, grab a coffee or kombucha and crank out emails or get to my first meeting. I always have breakfast with my co-founder to go over the day, anything about the team, and our weeks ahead. For lunch, we often have small discussion groups or I grab a Nourish salad from our fridge and enjoy the sunshine with a member of our team. The afternoon is for meetings — other business owners, potential partners, members — and then in the evenings we usually have programing of some kind. It could be as simple as watching the Warriors game on our big projector, making earrings, or bringing through an amazing female speaker. I'm usually home around 8 to see my husband for a bit before bed.
The environment and the community you've created is a creative and mindful space a lot of women aspire to be a part of. It seems to encourage that there can be a balance of work and lifestyle. Describe the type of members you have and are they there to achieve balance?
I think it's less about balance and more about making sure to find time for yourself. Not every day or week is going to feel balanced, but even carving out an hour here or there to take a class, read a book, or just have a cup of tea with a new friend you met at The Assembly can mean the world. We often hear from members that joining is the best thing they have done for themselves in a long time — and don't we all deserve that? I think this pressure on "finding balance" can sometimes feel like yet another thing we're failing at, so we encourage members to simply take time when they can.
The Assembly is in a spiritual space that has so much important San Francisco history. What iconic women from the past could you see as members?
So many (I mean all of them of course) but in terms of San Francisco, did you know that Coit Tower is actually named after a woman? Lillie Hitchcock Coit was an honorary firefighter and helped local firefighters in countless ways during her life. I'd love to think that a badass woman with a passion for service, adventure, and helping her community in SF would be right at home at The Assembly.
The clubhouse offers a well-curated program of classes from yoga to meditation to special events and classes. Sure, you can bring your laptop, grab a coffee and pastry and work away, but The Assembly is so much more than that. Our brief visit at The Assembly was such a pleasure, it really felt like a part of the city that slowed down and allowed us to breathe and take in what we appreciate. At one point, Nico's "These Days" began to play and I thought to myself, this place is magic.