Our Mission

While many women face excruciating life circumstances that have told them they have no value and no voice, TrueStory seeks to change the narrative, providing meaningful jobs to women and inviting them in a journey of growth and renewed hope together. Each women’s cooperative receives training and employment in crafting original hand-made garments while our direct investment micro-enterprise model allows a community of women to work and grow together through creative workshops, listening circles and a unique personal growth journey guided by a research-based storytelling and arts curriculum.

Our Approach

Designed, crafted, cultivated, and journeyed together as a community of friends, TrueStory challenges what modern fashion can be while providing hope and substance to women who want to shape and grow their own hearts, and in doing so, shape the heart of the world. TrueStory leads women to practice the arts of virtue, wit, modesty, and wisdom—all the while creating beauty and embodying love.

Our Partners

We partner with Next Step microloan program to pioneer an innovative model that provides women the tools, equipment, design, training, materials for creative collaboration and employment.

NextStep

NextStep

Vivien & Wolfgang Fernandéz, Andrew Jones

Our Philosophy

TrueStory recognizes that the greatest resource of all is the human spirit. Drawing directly from the local body of cultural and aesthetic sensibilities they tell a story whose beauty is not only visual, but also has a socioeconomic, environmental, and sustainable impact.

Our Founder

A University of Chicago graduate with a Masters in organizational growth and leadership development, Nicole is a multi-faceted visionary and an innovative organizer working in a variety of non-profit and creative start-ups for over 15 years. With degrees in international development and intercultural communication, her work includes design, branding and program development for a variety of organizations in fashion, film, health, environmental and educational fields. Her passion is to invest in people, and see lost and broken dreams beautifully restored.

Nicole Voelkel

Nicole Voelkel

Founding Team

Haydee Chang

Haydee Chang

Haydee Chang is an educator, technologist and creative thinker with a Masters in Learning and Organizational Behavior.  Haydee spent ten years working in advanced technologies at Accenture specializing in designing network architecture solutions for various Fortune 500 companies, working as a global program manager alongside a managing partner to launch a technology line of business that grew to 400 million in revenue in 5 years.

As a fellow for Education Pioneers, she specialized in coaching organizational leaders in education. She has extensive international experience designing and implementing complex solutions for change in various countries.  She has lived, worked and traveled in Asia and Europe.

In her spare time she loves to adventure with her husband and four boys, reading, drinking tea, and teaching art a local Montessori school.

Ibu Ruth Ika

Ibu Ruth Ika

Ibu Ika leads our partnership with Gerasa non-profit in Indonesia, in particularly the “For Her” project which focuses on issues women and girls face throughout Indonesia including poverty, abuse, HIV & AIDS, prostitution, and gender inequality. Indonesian girls also face a variety of difficult issues including lack of registration with the government, abuse and child labor. She leads women’s meetings in a variety of safehouses working to build a culture of caring, acceptance, and love. She helps recruit and train women in a social entrepreneurship model aimed at empowering Bali’s marginalized women and girls, working together for the common goals.

Karla Scherf

Karla Scherf

As a licensed clinical social worker and therapist with over 20 years experience working in mental health hospitals, youth-rescue homes, and first-response teams in Chicago, Karla is an extremely gifted professional at leading group dynamics and bringing sensitivity and awareness around a variety of issues.

A tireless activist, Karla worked with Habitat for Humanity for many years, ensuring their international and local housing projects adequate took into account the social-economic-practical needs of their client. She has offered long hours of pro-bono work to restructure and streamline non-profit organizations.

Ellen Sunshine

With a Masters in Bioethics from University of Leuven, Belgium, and degrees in Latin American Studies and Political Science from University of Chicago, Ellen is an insightful team member who is highly administrative and detail oriented. She has lived an traveled extensively in Latin America and is a native-level Spanish speaker.

Her expertise primarily with organizations working with immigrant victims of trafficking and domestic violence, groups promoting indigenous culture and arts, and projects improving access to health care. She has more than 10 years of experience in non-profit project design and administration, including grant writing / strategic planning / program coordination / training. Her passion is to see corporate structures adhere to ethical boundaries especially in the area of indigenous rights and environmental concerns.