Sisters Lauren Massarella and Michelle Anderson live in different homes and have different life experiences, but their bond has never been stronger thanks to a shared project bringing conversation and connection to their corner of the Internet.
In 2014, the siblings teamed up to launch The Sister Project, a lifestyle and wellness blog that focuses on a concept called hygge, a Danish term that essentially translates to “living in coziness.”
Massarella, a yoga teacher in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood, and Anderson, a mom of 12-year-old twins in La Grange, regularly contribute posts about travel, food and fashion.
Last October, the sisters introduced a new component of their project: a biweekly podcast called “Cozy Conversations with the Sister Project,” with new episodes every Wednesday and Friday.
“As sisters we lead such different lives, and yet we’re rooted in sisterhood,” Massarella said. “So, we do a little touching base with one another, and then we pick our topics of conversation, and those are inspired by current events, personal stories that we have—we’ll dive a little deeper into certain topics—and pop culture. We have a lot of fun doing it.”
In one episode, which focused on a New York Times story about the challenges mothers have faced during the pandemic, Massarella and Anderson took the time to delve into their different life experiences.
“We dedicated a whole podcast to talking about this article, because Michelle and I don’t have (being a mother) in common,” Massarella said. “I learned that perspective from her.”
Growing up in a family of seven, the sisters always had a strong connection, but the age gap left some space in their relationship—Anderson, 43, was the oldest of the five siblings, while Massarella, 38, was the middle child.
Launching The Sister Project has brought them closer together.
“Our relationship has changed a ton since we were little kids to being sisters and best friends and business partners,” Massarella said. “It’s really interesting. We’ve had our sisterly ups and downs within the business, like any sisters would have not in business together, so there are roles you have to shift and figure out.”
One of the most meaningful experiences is taking care of their mother, June, who was diagnosed with FTD, or frontotemporal dementia, in 2015. June died four years later, and the sisters’ blog chronicles their journey through grief and healing.
“It has, over time, become a resource, which we’re really proud of,” Anderson said. “I’m glad to know that people have found solace and comfort in shared experience and knowing that this was our experience and this is how we got through it, worked through it. It’s just a positive space for the dementia community as a whole.”
For Anderson, the blog led to a significant life change. She left her job in government contracting in early 2020, shortly before the start of the pandemic, to shift her focus toward the project.
“I feel free,” she said. “Freedom and really doing what you want to do and not what you should do—that was the thing. I felt so stifled and unable to really do what I felt like I enjoyed, authentically and in the right space. Podcasting and working on The Sister Project—that was a lot more fulfilling.”