WOMEN Empowerment
by Nilüfer

Nilufer Bracco, Founder and Creative Director

I feel that, sometimes, women empowerment is an overused concept. Yet it is very important to me and to be able to explain that I need to talk about my upbringing.

I was born and grew up in a small town outside Istanbul where opportunities for women are limited. You could always choose to focus on raising a family and being a homemaker but most often these are not choices but rather a result of limited opportunity.

Let me be clear, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with being a homemaker. Building a family with a spouse that works to provide the resources that the family needs to thrive is a respectable decision. The problem is that often this is not a choice but the only option bestowed upon a woman who wishes something different for herself.

In my hometown, I grew to be an unusual person. Not only did I reach a uniquely rare height of 188 cm, but I also had big dreams and aspirations in the world of design and fashion that could not be fulfilled staying in the town where I was born. I was lucky that my height attracted the interest of Volleyball recruiters in Turkey first and the United States later, which allowed me to pursue an education and to eventually seek jobs in the industry of my dreams.

I really can’t imagine that I would eventually have been able to launch niLuu had I not lived and worked in Istanbul, New York and Miami as an adult.

Woman empowerment is about independence and security. When a woman does not have a job or skills, she is not financially independent. As a result, she depends on her spouse or family to provide for her needs let alone her dreams.

This is not just some form of “woke” philosophy. In the most heartbreaking cases, that lack of independence can prevent a woman from taking action should her safety and security be at risk. That is something that pains me as I have seen many women continue in failed marriages unable to extricate themselves from situations that have the potential to grow dangerous.

In the workplace, women can be skilled and capable. Just like in the case of men, there are many women who can deliver results above and beyond expectations. And just like men, some women may not be able to accomplish what is expected of them. To me, performance in the workplace is an individual matter regardless of gender. I certainly wish most women believed that as well and would not let the prejudices they have grown hearing limit their aspirations.

Even before I started niLuu, I was always thinking on how I could buy and resell products made by women from the area where I was from. But some give back made for a small impact. If I could create a successful business that could use the skills of women in my home country, I would be creating opportunities that could survive the test of time. Jobs that exist because products and services are offered and demanded by the marketplace have a much more lasting benefit compared to charitable efforts.

Women empowerment is ultimately about ensuring that every little girl from anywhere will be able to pursue her dreams and fulfill her true potential.

Therefore, ever since I started working on the launch of niLuu, my primary concern has been to develop a brand with successful products offered in the marketplace. But always, in the back of my mind, I feel a responsibility to create professional opportunities for women. Primarily, but not limited to, women from the region of Turkey where I am originally from.

Because of this, I have been working with suppliers that are strongly committed to principles of sustainable development, which include fair and transparent labor practices, allowing employment opportunities for women in a non-discriminatory environment. That is true of our fabrics supplier, which is a rather large company. When we started working together, it was about choosing a partner that could provide the quality that is expected of niLuu first and foremost. The fact that it does so in a way that is compatible with niLuu’s brand ethos makes the partnership sustainable over the long run.

When it came to choosing an Atelier that could construct the niLuu pieces, we chose to work with a company called Serra Serra that is led by a woman entrepreneur. Serra Serra has had significant success in another industry and had an interest in developing a luxury garment division. In addition to the right skills and motivation I was inspired by their story. I love that most jobs created are filled by skilled women and that niLuu is creating meaningful job opportunities for women. I am also proud of the fact that we have grown and continue to grow together, pushing the envelope of quality and design and fulfilling both companies objectives.

I have found working with Serra Serra’s founder and her team to be effective and productive. At the end of the day, I have seen competence in both women and men. I have also seen the opposite in both genders. However, to the extent that we are creating jobs, it fills me with satisfaction to know that if a woman has the right skills and capabilities she will be working for us.

The same is true for our Miami operation. Most of our team is made of women and most of our advisors and agencies are also women. They were chosen not because of their gender but because they had the right skills for their jobs and the right appreciation for our products. Since the majority of our collection is destined to women, it makes sense that women can bring something extra to the table.

In modern societies, it is widely accepted that women participation in the economy adds value. But women empowerment is ultimately about ensuring that every little girl from anywhere will be able to pursue her dreams and fulfill her true potential.

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