Christina Stembel had a 70-item to-do list and no time to tackle it. So in 2018, she decided to eliminate all distractions. She’d get an Airbnb cabin in Ojai, Calif., with limited cell service, and spend a weekend alone with her work. She mentioned this plan to another founder she met at an Ernst & Young award ceremony, and the woman asked to come along. Stembel reluctantly agreed. Then the woman invited a friend. And with that, Stembel thought her time away would devolve into a social free-for-all.
But as the three founders settled in at their cabin, Stembel discovered an unexpected benefit. All three women ran companies that create tangible goods and generate millions to tens of millions of dollars in revenue: Stembel founded Farmgirl Flowers, which ships ethically sourced bouquets across the Lower 48; she was joined by Ellen Bennett of Hedley & Bennett, maker of premium aprons and chef’s gear, and Chelsea Shukov of Sugar Paper, a high-end stationery business.
At the cabin, the women began swapping experiences and insights, and soon they scrapped their original plans for the trip. They wouldn’t tackle their to-do lists. Instead, they’d help one another with challenges in their businesses. “I didn’t come back thinking, Wow; I got so much accomplished,” says Stembel. “I came back feeling, Wow; I’m thinking about things in such a different way.”
The women now affectionately refer to their