Founder Stories


Ariel Nazryan. Ariel has always loved creating shared experiences to connect groups of people. As a kid she was always writing books and newsletters, starting clubs, building community forts, and creating performances. As a young adult her passion was directing theater and, after graduating from Duke University with degrees in Theater and Women’s Studies, much of her career was spent developing and directing new plays in New York City.

Paychecks in theater being what they are, Ariel was usually double- or triple-employed, and her experiences working outside of theater ran the gamut: she ran an international cultural exchange touring company; she developed new retail business for the Army, Navy, and Marines exchanges; she was a stockbroker, teacher, bookkeeper, philanthropist’s assistant, presentation specialist, and more. She enjoyed aspects of every industry and developed an affinity for creating or improving the systems on which each business was run. And with so many job functions, cultures, and environments to observe, she developed strong opinions about how, why, and where people do their best work, whether on a stage or on a spreadsheet.

Ariel witnessed the importance of creativity, setting, and community to self-care when she visited a loved one at an upscale behavioral health treatment center in Arizona. People fighting for their lives made use of art, research, horses, craftwork, discussion, meditation, physical challenges, role play, talismans, and one another in brave and desperate attempts to become their better selves. Ariel envisioned a world where it was practical, possible, and wonderful to practice rituals of creativity and self-care like it was no big thing. She became determined to bring some of these life-saving arts into casual, affordable use—not just for the serious artist or rehabber, but for everyone.

This idea, and all the others that she had been storing up, brought her to business school in Texas to marry her passion to her pragmatism. After getting an MBA in Entrepreneurship from Acton School of Business and moving to Los Angeles, Ariel enjoyed new business coaching and freelance writing while raising a baby daughter and running the local chapter of an international support group for mothers. That’s where Ariel and Emily met and discovered their shared need to create the magical place that is now boxcar+muse.

When she’s not working at her new job (the only way to get a job that actually engaged all of Ariel’s interests was to go ahead and create this social club/creative camp/self-care retreat/innovation incubator/think tank/venue/workplace) she remembers that some of her favorite things are New York City, Narnia, tasting menus, making lists, sleepaway camp, her bestie’s granddaddy’s cabin in West Virginia, music heard from a distance outside on a summer night, theater, Mary Oliver, Buffy, writing, and her family: her outstanding specimen of a husband and their two little spark-plug daughters.

Emily Spokes. As an only child, Emily Spokes’ desire to interact with other kids her age started very early on.  Forming clubs like the Babysitters of Barwood and collecting dues to be able to go to places like Six Flags and Fame City (!) was a fun way to create regular community gatherings amongst her young pals. Raised by a family full of courageous women, she always had an affinity for reading about other inspiring women and participating in supporting women’s interest events.

Her urge to keep connecting with other curious women carried on when she involved herself in many groups like Peer Assistance Leadership and National Charity League during her time in high-school and then in college where she liked hosting theme parties and was the promotions manager for the radio station at Louisiana State University.

After college she found herself in New York City, working in publishing for various women’s interest magazines like Latina, O, the Oprah Magazine and CosmoGIRL!. It was working at these powerful titles and being surrounded by women like Victoria Sanchez-Lincoln, Yesenia Almonte, Oprah, Gayle King, Valerie Monroe, Susan Schulz-Wournos and Chandra Czape Turner that she saw first-hand how inspiring women working together can literally change the world. 

After leaving publishing to follow her creative dreams of becoming a makeup artist, she noticed that there wasn’t a lot of support for freelancers in the field outside of agency representation. So she started a group and even hosted a reverse job fair in New York City where participants were invited to meet the “next generation of hair and makeup artists.” She began to entertain the notion of creating an artist co-op and then abruptly moved to the west coast unexpectedly.

The inspiring natural environs of California mixed with an uninspiring job at a male-dominated news network and a surprise pregnancy got her wheels turning. (That and the staggering wage gap for women vs. men, disproportionate representation of women in government and lack of maternity support in the US!) She wanted to form an official group for women that would remind them that they have the right to enjoy life, guilt-free…that they deserve the same opportunities and advantages as men do…that self-worth really is the key to enjoying life…that they are more than just moms or career women…that they can have hobbies, they don’t have to spend all that in-between time at an uninspiring or stressful job…that they can overcome even the most traumatic of circumstances with the right support system. That the “now” is what makes life worth loving!

Now Emily’s lifelong dream of bringing women together to help and support each other, make each other laugh, and lift each other’s spirits is made whole with her supportive tribe of women who continue to love and support her. She lives in Los Angeles with her beloved husband, daughter and dog and enjoys reading/watching Anne of Green Gables, reruns of the Golden Girls and of course Steel Magnolias and The First Wives Club...gardening, baking bread, cooking with her BFF, eating at least nine Oreos per sitting, laughing till she pees her pants, practicing yoga and meditation, networking, learning new skills, and above all, helping anyone who needs a boost!