I met these sisters and bloggers through my friend Molly.  I asked them how to start a blog and they were beyond helpful and generous, giving me great tips – and making me laugh.  What I love about them is their authenticity – they truly DO.NOT.CARE what other people think and just do what they feel in their hearts is right.  It’s a luxury to be around people who are crystal clear and easy, right? Keeping it real and creating a cozy feeling is authentically hygge – and as you’ll read, hygge is their thing.  Enjoy! (FYI this conversation was with Lauren, pictured here on the right).  Xo, Alicia

Tell me about The Sister Project and why you started it.

When we first started a blog together, we wanted to celebrate badass women (it’s a section of our website!).  From courageous fire chiefs to super successful female entrepreneurs… there are so many women and stories to be told!  We’re in a wonderful moment where women are supporting women, kicked off by the #metoo movement.

We also started The Sister Project to celebrate our own lives, passions and thoughts/dreams. It has turned into a space for us to share our growth as women and individuals. Throughout our blog experiences, other women have been helpful…it’s the essence of being a female entrepreneur – we help one another. I hope that Michelle & I inspire other women to just go out and start things too.  To just give it a shot.  Over time, hygge (a Danish concept around moments that give you comfort & joy) became the gravity underneath all of our efforts with the blog.  Hygge creates the honesty and warmth required for everything else to happen, from women helping other women to other caring activities across life.

Tell us more about what hygge means to you and why it matters in America right now.

We kinda hijacked the term hygge because it genuinely reminded us of the home we grew up in, which was just the coziest, warmest place!  There was always a candle (or many) burning, the aroma of food cooking, and a sense of movement and bustle.  With 5 kids, at times it was like a fraternity house!  Our mother created this warm environment and instilled a desire in all of us for a home like this that envelopes you and brings you into a warm place.  Creating hygge in our families and lives became a way to celebrate our mom since she can’t do it herself anymore. (she has Frontotemporal Dementia, which The Sister Project is very open about in their blog as they see the platform as a vehicle to help educate the public on this disease)

Learning about hygge, talking about it, and living it has helped us to become more pleasant and grateful for the simple things.  We turn off our devices and make eye contact with one another again.  It’s all about mindfulness and the basics of being a human – visiting one another, having solitude, etc. We’re so wrapped up in the news which is overwhelming… practicing this lifestyle gets us grounded again.

(to find out more about hygge, see this interview with Danish BFs Karin & Mia)

Was starting the blog a first or second act for each of you?

It all started because Michelle knew the sisters had something to offer.  Michelle raised the idea, and it’s become like another baby for her!  She’s creative and wants to inspire and be inspired. I was amazed she was willing to add more to her plate between kids, a full time job, and a sick mom.

Image of lauren in hygge moment

What is it like to work with a sibling?

It’s fun. It’s not as challenging as some people think. Because we’re sisters, our rapport is raw, honest, and to the point.  This makes things easier in so many ways!  The two of us have a lot of enthusiasm, and we love to bounce ideas off of each other.  Doing this blog together over the past several years has been so rewarding – it brings us closer as sisters.

You totally put yourself out there and are raw in Instagram Stories, etc.  Is that hard to do?

Noooo!  That’s just who I am.  Michelle & I value authenticity and consistency – those are our two business words.  We’re drawn to authentic people. Also, we’re incapable of faking it! You always have to be yourself.

The way we see it, on social media, to be authentic you’ve gotta put it all out there. We learned these values from our mom. She was always honest and authentic with the world– she was a “you get what you see” type of person.  Perhaps she passed down hygge and being real to us.  A song lyric that is meaningful to me comes to mind from Marina & the Diamonds, I am not a robot:

Better to be hated
Than loved loved loved for what you’re not

Lauren in front of flower power wall

What inspires you about Chicago?

So many things!  My favorite neighborhood is Andersonville.  I love Andersonville because its not a shopping neighborhood; it’s about experiencing food and drink!  Some of my favorite coffee shops are there.  In addition, I love Hop Leaf where you go for a beer and a pot of mussels, or Simon’s for mug of glug.  Andersonville just hosted its first hygge-fest!

I also dig into the festivals!  My favorite is Pitchfork.  I love that it’s a smaller fest and that it’s not filled with drunk 16-year-olds. It’s a perfect combo of good music, food, people-watching and hipster fashion.  When it comes to shopping – Renegade Art Fair is a must.  Some of my most treasured finds have been from Renegade. This Art Fair is a great spot to find one-of-a-kind pieces and gifts.

Finally, I’m a real creep and admittedly one of my favorite spots is Graceland cemetery. It’s a breathtaking arboretum, and wonderful place to rest in nature.

How do you create hyygge in your interiors?

My house is a Row Home from the 1800s that’s been renovated.  My favorite part about my house is my clawfoot bath as well as my garden.  I grow tomatoes and all of my herbs, and find solitude and happiness there.  My garden reminds me of my grandma – I’m very nostalgic.

I put things in my house that make my heart happy or are comfortable.  It’s that simple for me. I have an acapulco chair in my house for no reason other than it makes me happy and is comfortable. I have white stairs and painted a black stripe down them because it makes me happy.  We call it our Beetlejuice hallway.

The minute it starts to get dusky outside, I start burning unscented candles.  Tons of them!  In the morning when I wake up, I use 3 pillar LED candles on timers.  Candles give me a cozy hygge feeling and I love waking up to a soft light. It’s particularly nice in the winter to have these candles start warming up the room with light instead of having to wake up in pitch black.  I also create hygge with baths, Netflix (and chill of course) at home.

Michelle’s house smells amazing all of the time …she creates enough food to feed the neighborhood. I was there last week and she literally fed some stray kids as well as her neighbor friends.

Lauren's garden where she finds hygge

Does hygge extend to your style?  You know I love to shop my closet.  Are you more of a shopper or a shop-your-closet’er?

I think so…I love fashion but I don’t get caught up into trends.  Copenhagen style is my favorite: it’s simple, basic, full of earth tones and black. I’m attracted to a high-waist and wonderful fabrics that feel good against the body. Vintage that has meaning and a rich history is also important to me.

I struggle to shop my closet – even this morning I wanted to throw out my whole closet and start something new.  It’s very effective to grab the same things … it becomes a uniform.  I would love your help with creating new combinations. Here are some things I truly love in my closet:

1) Free People denim: For high-waisted jeans, I’m OBSESSED with Free People. They are super reasonably priced and fit like a freaking glove. Sexy too. I love their super flare ones, but these are super cute too. High Waist Slim Straight Leg Jeans $59.99, SHOP HERE
FREE PEOPLE High Waist Slim Straight Leg Jeans, Alternate, color, LIGHT DENIM 
2)  Vaalbara Clutch: I actually found this designer at the Renegade Art Fair and bought this exact clutch 5 years ago. It is my go-to clutch for the perfect pop of color. Shop HERE
Santa Fe Signature Large Clutch
3) No matter where I go and no matter the time of the year – I bring a hand fan with me…often a Duvelleroy one. This design house is actually in Paris! It’s women-owned too which I looooove. Shop HERE
Want to learn more about hyyge?  To hear about it directly from Danish women Karin & Mia, click here.

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