(Special thanks to Silvana Favaretto for her time and insights)
Part of this blog's purpose is to highlight Chicago-area "mission-driven businesses" like nonprofits or social enterprise. However, the whole notion of a "mission-driven business" seems...abstract. Every business has a mission: to make a profit. However, what distinguishes a truly "mission-driven business" is a move from a single person to a movement...and my recent conversation with Silvana Favaretto of The Tulle Project demonstrates how one person's personal development can lead to the growth of a community.
I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with Silvana Favaretto as she shared her story, as well as provided background into The Tulle Project.
Imagine one day, you find yourself with the "perfect" life, but you realize you're bored and feel that you lack a sense of purpose. Silvana Favaretto found herself in that place, and she was aware of the limiting messages that people were telling her. Although she was working on self-reflection and self-development, she realized that she needed to establish her own priorities and focus less on following rules and more on just being present. She knew she was on a unique journey, and she wanted to focus on where that journey would take her.
Remembering the casual freedom and initiative of her childhood, Silvana Favaretto engaged in a unique 100-day experiment: she decided to wear skirts made out of tulle, a fine fabric that resembles netting. Journaling and documenting her experience via social media (like Instagram and Facebook), Silvana found that more women were recognizing aspects of her own self-evolution and began following her journey. As the 100-day project came to a close, she found herself feeling more grounded, more honest, and more centered than she had before...
...and as a result, she founded the Tulle Project. As the website describes it:
The Tulle Project is a movement, a tribe, and a space for females everywhere to express their strength, vulnerability, femininity, and whatever they want! The Tulle Project has taken beautiful, sophisticated skirts and transformed them into a symbol of feminine strength—charging women to express themselves, take ownership of their stories and create the life they’ve always wanted.
Engaging women via social media, events, photo shoots, and other means, The Tulle Project actively works to empower women to develop their own strength. (And yes, The Tulle Project also has a great selection of skirts as well). But in many ways, The Tulle Project is a great example of a mission-driven business.
In speaking with Silvana Favaretto, it was apparent that The Tulle Project's mission was inherent within its company operations. Empowering women was not an aspect simply added to a current business; Silvana's journey provided greater emotional resonance to The Tulle Project's mission. It also became apparent that The Tulle Project's mission focused on values like honesty, authenticity, and empathy rather than focusing on hitting trends. At a time when women's issues have greater focus, The Tulle Project's activities allow women to take ownership of the project, investing as much in themselves as they do in the Project. Although the focus may be on fun and fashion, The Tulle Project provides a safe haven for women to provide each other support, guidance, and understanding on a deeper level.
(Yes, there are other organizations that follow a similar mission, yet The Tulle Project is driven by the unique experience of Silvana Favaretto. In short, it is because of her journey that their mission of female empowerment permeates throughout The Tulle Project's activities. Goodwill, collaboration, and connection are three of the values that The Tulle Project promotes, even if it falls under the guise of distinctive outerwear).
So what's next for Silvana Favaretto and The Tulle Project? An upcoming "100 Days of Bold" in which women will be encouraged to explore what it means to be "bold". Although the current tenor of female empowerment is focused on a different set of issues, the 100 Days of Bold may serve as a necessary conversation for a select group of women. Developing assertiveness, self-reliance, self-esteem and a strong support network are challenging for a woman in isolation; in some ways, The Tulle Project has become a key (if very distinctive) ally in the fight.
And they're a great neighbor to get to know.
And as always, thanks for reading!