If you majored in self-care and wish there was an app that captured the essence of Bumble BFF and Clubhouse, you’re going to want to learn how to use Quilt, ASAP. Quilt is an audio platform that gives a microphone to moderators who are experts in their feelings. With conversations on everything from heartbreak to numerology, the surprisingly intimate feel of the Quilts — moderators often say hello to every listener individually to prioritize inclusivity — might give you the courage to actually speak up and join the conversation.
The app’s founder, Ashley Sumner, wants users to feel comfortable tuning in while on a walk, or in the car, or at work under your desk — the same kind of headspace you’d be in to call up friend. “I have had women come out of doctor's offices and get on [Quilt] to announce that they're pregnant —I don't think they even told her husbands yet,” Sumner says.
Quilt launched in 2017 as a platform to facilitate in-person get together in homes across the country, but social distancing meant the app needed to pivot. According to Sumner, audio felt like the best way to help people relate to each other without sizing themselves up. A team of five launched the Quilt app in January, and since then, usership has doubled each month. “This format is pretty critical to meeting that need [for community] at scale,” Sumner tells Bustle.
For the subject matter Quilt focuses on, a little bit of internet anonymity works in users’ favor. “We're not an open platform where everyone's coming on and talking about crushing goals and raising VC funding,” Sumner says. “We've been very intentional around saying that this is a space that's used for self-care oriented conversations — like spirituality, mental health, purpose, relationships, and personal development.”
Ready for some ~me~ time? Here’s how to use Quilt to up your cyber self-care network.
How To Start Using Quilt
Download Quilt from the App Store and create an account. (The app is just for iPhone right now, but you can sign up for the Android waitlist.) Upon joining, you’ll be prompted to choose at least three topics that interest you. Your suggested programming will be based on these choices, so choose subjects that you’d actually like to engage with. Upload a picture of yourself, add your pronouns, and pick a username. Once you hit the home page, you’ll see any live Quilts. If you’re not interested in tuning in, you can check out the Discover tab to search for friends, or follow featured accounts, like moderators and ambassadors. The app has three welcome rooms a day to initiate new members and answer questions.
How To Join A Quilt
Check out the calendar icon to see the official Quilt schedule, and add the discussions that interest you to your calendar so you don’t miss them. To join a live Quilt, just tap “Join Now” on your home page. Once you enter, you’ll be able to see the official speakers and listeners, and you’ll be able to click on their photos to check out their profiles and connect. To show support for speakers, you can tap the heart emoji, which will stick to your profile picture.
If you feel like chiming in, you can raise your hand to speak by tapping the hand emoji. If you have other things do on your phone, you can leave the app and the conversation will keep playing. If you’re done listening, just tap “Leave” on the bottom right side of the screen.
How To Start A Quilt
Have something to say? Or want to start a conversation based on a question? Tap “Start a quilt” at the bottom of the screen and you’ll be prompted to name your conversation. Once you tap “Host,” a notification will go out to the entire community, giving them the opportunity to join in. You can host a Quilt with a friend, an expert, or join a daily “How to host” conversation to chat with ambassadors about getting paired with a co-host and get advice on how to moderate a conversation for your community.
Find Your Voice
If the thought of speaking on an audio platform gives you the bad kind of butterflies, but you have something to say, you’re not alone. Sumner says the best way to conquer your stage fright is to be an avid listener. Spend a lot of time in different Quilts, getting a feel for the ego-free community, and build your confidence.
“It's about the stepping stones to getting there,” Sumner, a self-proclaimed introvert, says. Start by tapping the heart emoji. Graduate to asking a question. And then wait for the perfect opportunity to organically add your voice to a conversation. “There’s going to be a moment where your heart starts to race a little bit and you’re like, ‘oh my God, I’m going to say something,’ and then you do it.” That might be your first Quilt, or the hundredth. “The best way to pop the speaking cherry is to use the platform a lot, and join a welcome room.”
If you’re not ready to share your own personal experience, Sumner says there’s a lot of value in being the person who asks good questions to the benefit of the community.
Make Friends On Quilt
You can always check out the profiles of the people who are in Quilts with you, and you can add them as friends to create a direct line of communication. Users often share their Instagram handles or how to find them on other platforms, too.
Because a lot of conversations about mental health happen on Quilt, there are a lot of ways to support members who might be in need. When you tap on a user’s profile, you can click the ellipses to report them to Quilt — aka, let someone at HQ know that this person might need some extra support or resources. You can also block a user with this function if need be.
“We've also started a community preventative community program where the community can learn about what it means to create a safe space,” Sumner says, adding that she believes educating the community on emotional and physical safety will help grow the community long-term.
Part of Sumner’s hope for the app is that it becomes a staple in post-pandemic self care for users. “If somebody wakes up and instead of going to Instagram and doom scrolling and feeling crappy in your first 10 minutes of waking up, I would much rather that person pop in and listen to daily affirmations, or set an intention with a room of 10 people.”
Sumner also hopes the casual nature of the app — which intentionally doesn’t use the words “audience” or “stage” — will encourage people who want company to tune in all the time. “We have a Sunday group that Quilts from the bath,” she says. “You can literally Quilt from anywhere.”