We met Silvana at a local AIGA event and were immediately drawn to her bright, bubbly personality. As a designer she is continuously looking for inspiration from her surroundings and experiences. When Saturate was just starting out she was extremely open and excited to join us on our mission. After getting together over coffee we learned that Silvana had recently started a creative venture of her own, The Tulle Project. Hearing about the wonderful new undertaking we knew that we had to get together and help spread the word. Besides flaunting her fashionista side and selling skirts, Silvana created a space for women to feel beautiful, connected, and empowered. The Tulle Project’s mission is to help people make meaningful connections, share their stories, and equip themselves to be their best. Make sure to jump on her page, follow along, and catch an event or two.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.
I started The Tulle Project just a few months ago. It all started as a personal creative project last year. For the entire fall of 2015 I wore tulle skirt outfits every day and posted a picture on Instagram, tagging #thetulleproject in every post. The reason I did that was to do something creative, but also to challenge myself and spread positivity and empower women to take more risk.
My friends liked the idea a lot and they loved the skirts. I started getting more and more followers, and a couple photographers I knew wanted to do photoshoots. It was super fun. Then I decided to start a company selling the skirts.
My goal is to empower women to stand out and be more feminine.
An experienced clothing designer once told a group of women at an event I was part of that if we want to be taken seriously, as women, we can't wear anything whimsical or too feminine. I was wearing one of my tulle skirts and asked her, “How about this skirt? This is my business,” I explained. She said "Not if you want to be taken seriously," and she said something like "you can't walk in a board meeting wearing that."
I was shocked and frustrated, and to that I say: "Tulle in the board room!"
Women should be able to wear whatever they want. They should be able to feel feminine and whimsical and not be taken less seriously because of that!
Walk us through a typical day in the life of Silvana.
Well.. I'm a Senior Graphic Designer, so I do that during the day. I've been building my business in the off hours—mornings before work, nights, and weekends.
I like waking up earlier to do a little stretching or yoga poses first thing in the morning, than have espresso and eggs and get a couple things done before my day job. After work I go back home or a coffee shop to do more work, or to an event to network and learn more about the startup world. I try to fit a workout in at least a couple of days a week too. Plus I'm a volunteer with the local chapter of a national design association and a facilitator for a leadership development program.
Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere! People inspire me! Instagram posts, articles, books, networking with other entrepreneurs. Watching videos from Tony Robbins, Brené Brown, Gary V., Marie Forleo, and Jason Silva. I think we, as humans, need constant infusion of inspiration and we should take responsibility to create that for ourselves.
How do you make time for creativity and collaboration?
Ha.. I don't really know how I do it! It's been a constant go-go-go mode and I don't think I've ever done so much in my life. There's so much going on, so much I'm part of. I think I just do it! Before I was too afraid, or uncertain, or simply didn't know what I should be doing with my life. I think I'm more focused and mature now. And if it's important to me, I'll put my time and energy into it.
Plus, I love collaborating! People energize me, and talent is everywhere. There are so many cool people and companies I'd love to work/collaborate with.
What tips would you give to anybody who is looking to get started?
You gotta decide to start. No one else can do it for you! Have a real conversation with yourself and commit to it! And don't hold back.
But then pick 2 people and tell them your idea/project. Two people that you can trust, who would always tell you the truth, challenge you and celebrate you. So many times I doubted myself, but I have 2 girlfriends/allies/coaches/support that believed in me and my idea. If I was having a hard time believing in myself, I'd believe them instead, because they believed in me. And these people should accept all of you, because things get tough sometimes and you don't want anyone to be judgmental of you while having a breakdown or lots of feelings about a situation. And disclaimer: if you are not having those tough times, you're not pushing hard enough!
You wear many creative hats–do you have a favorite?
I love all the hats I wear with all their colors and different shapes (see what I did there? :) but right now I gotta say, strolling in a tulle skirt is my favorite thing. I feel so feminine and comfortable (because they are super comfortable) but also on my own skin. It just feels right to feel that fabulous! :)
Do you like collaborating on projects? What are some perks? Some challenges?
Like I said before, I love collaborating. I think in every collaboration people bring their different views, diversity, ideas, experiences. It becomes richer than if I'd do something by myself. For The Tulle Project, it creates visibility and better relationships.
The challenge is to find specific people/companies to collaborate with and also monetize it.
How important is it for you to give back to the community?
Very. For every tulle skirt I sell, I give a tutu to a girl in a children's hospital. I just think that can brighten their day and make them feel more special. My goal is to donate to all the hospitals in the country. I just need to sell a ton of tulle skirts!
I also started creating events for women to get together and talk about feminine power, struggles, etc. I think it's so important to engage in these conversations, relate to each other, and hopefully start to create change.
What keeps you motivated and making?
To be honest, I don't know. I feel that if we all have a calling, this must be it. I feel more motivated than I ever been. I really love building something for myself with a strong message that supports it. I also have committed to live my life more fully. The more I go for it and stay alert, the more clear my goals became and the more motivated I feel.
I guess my advice would be do something with more life today, with more heart, with a little more passion.
Photography by Mike Killion