Empower Our Sisters is a movement to empower women. All women. Founder Rebecca Natalie Fien was terrified for anyone to find out what she felt was an embarassing secret about her son’s birth. The experience was personally traumatic for Rebecca, and she was ashamed to share what happened and how she felt, mostly because she felt terribly alone. Like she was the only one who was going through it, so no one else would understand.
Surrounded by a bunch of her close friends, acquaintences, and even a few women she didn’t know, at a meeting for her women’s networking group, BOSSY, Rebecca broke down and told the women what had happened when her son was born, and how she was currently doing. Which was not good. They all offered support to her, embraced her, and told her stories that made her feel, well, not alone. All of a sudden, these women started sharing their own stories. It was like, permission had been granted for women to share things that they needed to share. Secrets, shame, sadness, doubt, fear, love… It didn’t all happen in one night, the idea was born and Rebecca thought about it for months. How opening up about something, and being truly honest and raw about it, made other women do the same, and heal together.
Rebecca owns a web development and graphic design business in Rochester called Rochester Web Girl. In December of 2016, she built the first version of this website, which featured her quotes printed on items that could be ordered from a drop-shipping company. She donated a percentage of profits to local women’s non-profit organizations, and hired Elyssa Rossi, a social media marketer who she’d met at a BOSSY meeting, to help spread the word. Elyssa was instrumental in growing Empower Our Sisters as a brand and as an idea from nothing and helped grow an organic following (think authentic – real followers) of over 1,000 people in less than 4 months. In addition to public social media accounts, a private (closed) Facebook group was made. The idea was to create safe space for women to chat, seek and offer support, and empower one another.
While the business was formed with enthusiasm and love, the plan was impulsive and poorly thought out. The shop portion of the website ultimately had to come down due to a lot of investment and very little profit. But with each hurdle, another door would open, and more sisters would join in to help carry Empower Our Sisters along to the next phase. When the online shop closed, Rebecca’s close friend Erika Sorbello, owner of local hair salon and art gallery, Gallery Salon, had already begun carrying the Empower Our Sisters products in her boutique, and that’s where they’re exclusively available today! But in the time that the online shop was up and running, and combined with some additional fundraising, Rebecca raised over $500 for the Women’s Foundation of Genesee Valley, and volunteered her time and heart (as Empower Our Sisters) to run and help with an array of events. Events included an empowering workshop for girls at the Women Sanctuary, a benefit event for Willow Pickard, a garage sale fundraiser for local non-profit, Champions of Change, and various other fundraising events at Gallery Salon, Marshall Street Bar and Grill, Emerson and Oliver, and The Women Sanctuary.
Empower Our Sisters already had the closed Facebook group, but it quickly became clear how wonderful and life-changing the closed group actually was. Women were posting in that group because they felt safe. And listened to. So Empower Our Sisters started to grow through this closed online group, a safe space for women. A place to seek support and offer it. A place to empower.
By being truly authentic, Rebecca and Elyssa, along with the incredible women who volunteered their time over the next several months (Steph, Brittany, Erika, Karley, Jenny, Michelle, Amy, Tara, Alison, Maggie, Stephanie, Amanda, Sam, Marchella, Apryl, Brenda, Justine, Jaimie, Ellie… and more) grew this group into a truly safe space for women. And the desire to bring this closed group to life began to form.
Rebecca’s best friend from college, Stephanie Leigh Betzwieser had been supporting Rebecca, and Empower Our Sisters throughout it’s journey. She brought her expertise as a yoga instructor and health and wellness leader to the table and offered to help run local events which focus on emotional and physical wellness through yoga and dance, where women are encouraged to be raw and open. The events, which we’ve now run over a dozen of, aim to teach us, as women, to embrace and love ourselves for who we are in a positive and supportive environment.
Today, Empower Our Sisters is a movement of women who support and empower one another. We do this in four ways: through our online support group, local events, products, and promoting our sisters who have helped us along the way. This has always been about the women, and without them, we wouldn’t exist. The women involved are volunteers, invested in helping with Empower Our Sisters because they believe in it. As of November 2017, our active members are Rebecca Natalie Fien, Elyssa Rossi, Stephanie Leigh Betzwieser, Marchella Leone, Apryl Calici and Erika Sorbello.
The desire and need for a movement like this is real. When women support and love one another, incredible things happen.
As of November 2017, Empower Our Sisters has declared itself a movement. We are a group of women who support one another and run an always-active online group, and occasional meet-ups and events locally. We will always have products with empowering messages in Gallery Salon, and we will always promote and empower our sisters. 🙂
Rebecca Natalie Fien
Web Developer & Graphic Designer
Rochester Web Girl
Stephanie Leigh Betzwieser
Yoga and Pilates Instructor
Health and Wellness Leader
Ohana Social Media Marketing
EOS Closed Group Lead
Owner of Gallery Salon
EOS product management
Mercy High School Senior
Social Media Team
Social Media Team
Rebecca Natalie Fien, Founder of Empower Our Sisters
Rebecca Natalie Fien and her son Evan. His birth was traumatic and sharing her story helped her heal.
Elyssa Rossi (Ohana Roc) was instrumental in growing Empower Our Sisters via social media and beyond.
Stephanie Leigh, Yoga & Pilates Instructor
Director of Health & Wellness
Erika Sorbello, Owner of Gallery Salon and Rebecca's friend since she was 14.
Marchella Leone is a high school student at Mercy High School in Rochester, NY. She volunteers her time and heart helping with our social media. We are so thankful for her!