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The Power of Passionistas

How building a community of women to inspire others to follow their passions became the ultimate inspiration for us

The Passionistas Project Founders, Amy and Nancy Harrington
Amy and Nancy Harrington, Co-Founders of The Passionistas Project.

The idea came to us late one night out of the blue. We are sisters who had been doing celebrity interviews with stars like Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Carol Burnett for years. But we had started to feel like we needed, not wanted but needed, to be doing something more meaningful. And then, in the shadow of the #MeToo movement, it came to us. We should use our interviewing skills to shine a spotlight to tell a different variety of women’s stories.

Don’t get us wrong. We did, and still do, believe that the powerful accounts from the brave women of the #MeToo and Times Up movements had to be told. But we also knew that there were a slew of stories of strong, empowered women who were following their passions. We wanted to help these women share their experiences to inspire other women to push to achieve their dreams, as well.

When we launched The Passionistas Project Podcast, we decided that we would ask every woman we spoke with to nominate someone they knew to be a guest. It was the best decision we ever made.

For our first interview, we reached out to women we admired from a distance like Natasha Case, who co-founded Coolhaus ice cream out of the back of a broken down postal truck that she and her partner Freya Estreller had towed to Coachella. And they have since turned their simple ice cream sammie idea into a multi-million, worldwide business.

Natasha’s nominations led us to Daina Trout, who launched the global Health-Ade Kombucha brand and Sashee Chandran, who created TeaDrops organic, pressed teas that dissolve in water. As each interviewee led to new nominees, our circle expanded to include well-known chef and activist Susan Feniger, volcano scientist and political candidate Jess Phoenix and Christopher Street West/LA Pride Executive Director Madonna Cacciatore. We found ourselves being introduced to women we never would have met on our own like Lin Evola, who melts down guns and nuclear weapons and sculpts peace angels from them.

Our mission was simple — to do good by promoting the important work of these often unknown or under represented female forces of nature. But we soon selfishly realized that not only was our audience drawing inspiration from these incredible women but we were, too.

When we do celebrity interviews, the connection with our subject is intense but ends as soon as the camera stops rolling. With The Passionistas Project Podcast, we found that the women we were supporting wanted to know what they could do for us, too.

That brings us back to Sashee, that nominee that Natasha had sent our way. A thriving businesswoman who had just been named the Tory Burch fellow, Sashee took the time to chat with us one day. When we mentioned that we wanted to open an online store with products from women-owned businesses and female artisans, she suggested that we start a subscription box instead. And with that, The Passionistas Project Pack was born and we now have yet another avenue for spreading the word about more inspiring women who are following their passions.

Our lives have been forever changed by launching The Passionistas Project. Where we once felt isolated from other women or made to feel competitive with them in business situations, we now feel embraced by a community of fantastic femmes who want to connect, encourage and foster each other. And every day we wake up determined to build a more expansive Passionistas Project so that more women will join our posse and be a part of the most supportive and nurturing group of women we’ve ever known.

Sisters Amy and Nancy Harrington have been inspired by the #MeToo movement and #TimesUp campaign and decided to use their skills as celebrity interviewers to work to tell a different kind of story. Where many podcasters reserve their airtime for the elite, Amy and Nancy are talking to amazing women you probably haven’t heard of, who are making a huge difference by following their passions. From the founder of a successful ice cream company to a volcano scientist running for office to an artist who makes sculptures using melted down nuclear weapons, Amy and Nancy shine a light on the positive stories of women on The Passionistas Project Podcast.

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