Weston Mother-Daughter Team Start New Girl Empowerment Network

WESTON, Conn. -- Talk about girl power: The new social media platform, the 7Sisters Project, being launched this Mother's Day by mother-daughter duo Marilyn and Marisa Fezza is barely off the ground but already has Facebook followers from 49 countries. 

<p>Marilyn and Marisa Fezza are behind  the7Sisters Project.</p>

Marilyn and Marisa Fezza are behind the7Sisters Project.

Photo Credit: Hilmar Meyer-Bosse

"It's clear we've hit a chord," Marilyn, a Weston resident, said of the idea. It was launched from a video project by Marisa, then a high school student at Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich, that asked girls questions about current events such as "Can you name 10 U.S. presidents?" and then juxtaposed those questions with "What celebrity just got hospitalized?"

The result: Girls knew far too much about pop culture and were ill informed about more important issues.

That point was driven home again a few months later when Marisa's friends gathered at the Fezza's kitchen table and one girl asked: "Can someone please explain this New York Times headline about the economic crisis? I’ve been too embarrassed to ask anyone.” 

"That's when it all came together for me," said Marilyn. "Why not create an entertaining and empowering community where girls could be heard, be supported, have fun, get advice and begin challenging the information they get from less reliable sources?"

And so a mother-daughter partnership was formed using Marilyn's 30-year background building and running an apparel company (Marilyn and her husband own the Andrew Fezza menswear label), as well as Marisa's firsthand experience of navigating adolescence in today's look-obsessed, celebrity-saturated world. 

Marilyn also enlisted the advice of friend Melissa Newman, whose family founded Newman’s Own food company.

The 7Sisters mission, offering a hybrid of TV talk show, YouTube videos, expert advice and conversation, is all about offering a judgment-free platform for empowering teenage girls.

"We want to create a sisterhood of women from the 13-year-old to the 22-year-old to the 70-year-old talking about what it’s like to be in an alcoholic family, suffer from depression or share a bullying experience," said Marilyn.

Topics run the gamut from date rape to binge eating to what kind of shampoo works best on what kind of hair.

Marilyn's dream (with funding) is to take 7Sisters on the road to colleges and schools in Oprah-esque grassroots empowerment conferences, making the site viable both on and offline.

She said working with her 23-year-old daughter is a "bonus" to creating the site (Marisa now lives in NYC and works full time). As the mother to a 26-year-old son and 21-year-old daughter, the whole project has been a labor of love and a family affair.

"The mother/daughter team approach is the most natural partnership in the world," she said. "We all have so much to gain if we nurture and empower girls and treat them as the future leaders they are."

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