I AM THE MESSAGE.

Sofia represents those who do not seek convenience or a safe harbor, but a port to set sail from, to make new discoveries and new adventures. #fearlessexplorer

 

Sofia Ciucchi

Sofia is Whispr, and Whispr is Sofia. When you ask the founder of this project to show herself and be photographed, she always turns up her nose and pushes others forward. But all you need to recognize her is her unmistakable laugh, to follow the thread of creativity, and look for a Napoli flag, yes, the soccer team: “I grew up on bread and soccer while crocheting, I always drive the algorithms crazy. They show me ads about prostate because I watch soccer, and then I follow feminist pages,” she says, bursting out laughing as she does.

Indeed, Sofia takes life with commitment and irony, leaving others to define themselves by one word or one profession: “I don’t have one definition. My life is a sum and layering of experiences that I have accumulated by going in search of things to change me, to understand myself and to discover new things. I am selective and cannot do things that would be just convenient for me to do. I prefer to occupy my time with people and activities that really interest me.”

And her amazing 30-year career demonstrates this perfectly: “I studied economics, I love the world of business and management. I was living and working in Varese, Italy, when my mom cut out an ad in the newspaper of a blind selection as Organization Manager. I didn’t know who the employer was, but it was an opportunity to get closer to home. I was selected, it was Ferragamo. So, I entered the fashion world by chance, and I fell in love with it: the creativity, the production skills, the cultural aspect. For the first fifteen years I worked on process, strategy and finance activities, for the last six I also coordinated the product divisions. I left Ferragamo after a lifetime to become CEO of Il Bisonte, where I had to roll up my sleeves and learn a lot of new things, and then moved on to general manager of Scervino, which gave me forever the passion and knowledge of the world of knitwear, which is fundamental for the Whispr line: knitwear is a seemingly easy and super democratic product, but in reality, is very technical and the result of a lot of work.”

Listening to the milestones of her career, it is natural to wonder how Whispr happened, and Sofia laughs again, “The first time my husband saw me at a market presenting Whispr, sitting at a small table with shirts on it, while I was reading Grossman’s Stalingrad, at the age of 55, he put his hands on his face and we laughed about it. My interests have always exceeded economics and business, and in recent years I have become particularly passionate about social impact, civil economy, and sustainability. All these fields were quite distant from my almost 30 years as a manager in big structured companies. A desire was born in me to do my own project, with a different idea of work, putting what I had learned to the test and in the service of others. While I had already started as consultant and business angel, to invest in women’s startups, I worked for months with a couple of friends to bring the Whispr project to life. The idea of fashion and women matured at the same time: the topic that I always felt closer to me was the role of women in the workplace, and fashion is the language we have chosen to bring this topic forward after years of experience in the industry.”

She left behind all her certainties driven by the need to work for values beyond profit; she started from scratch, moving from familiar and comfortable management positions to a start-up, which by definition is new and emerging: “Needless to say, it is not easy to go from large and structured companies where you coordinate 300 people and one business card is enough to introduce yourself, to a reality where nothing works on its own, where you have to box the merchandise while being a manager, and when you have to knock on doors to introduce a brand new thing. It’s disorienting, and it’s normal to wonder who made me open a startup at my age, when this is usually done at an age when you have freedom to make mistakes and have few patterns behind you. Will it be a success? Who knows, you just put yourself out there, jump in and try, trying to engage people based on common values and shared ideas.

And although no one can reassure Sofia about what the future will be, listening to her story gives you a sense of comfort, as if anything is possible, at any time, as if the values that Whispr promotes, of which both Sofia and Whispr are a flag, are tangible: gender gap, activism, sustainability, freedom, rebirth, empowerment. “I don’t regret it at all. It is tiring but inspiring, I am confronted with realities I never imagined, and I realize that people’s lives mostly take place in bubbles that you only realize when you get out of them. The dream is to slowly be able to create a community in the real sense, to go back to places and meet again those who met you, those who wear your brand, which is not just a business but a network of people who choose people.