Meet Crunchytales founder Michela Di Carlo
Crunchytales is an online magazine designed to inspire women over forty to lead playful and fascinating lives.
Crunchytales’ confident pledge is “We are on a mission to reset the meaning of middle-age.”
If you have not yet checked out CrunchyTales, you are in for a treat. Take a look at its vivid visuals, terrific interviews, and incisive articles on everything from creativity to travel to food and wine & volunteering.
And you might want to get the free Pocket Guide ‘How to Age Playfully” [registration required]
But first see what CrunchyTales’ founder, the spirited Michela Di Carlo, has to say about her vision.
Stella: Your website masthead says “Smart Stories for Midlife Bloomers – Celebrating women over 40 – SINCE 2018”
You’ve accomplished a lot in a short time! What motivated you to start CrunchyTales?
Michela: Approaching my fifties, I was quite annoyed by the way the society and media portray middle aged ladies. Also, I couldn’t find any magazine really able to represent me. There is still an aura of frumpiness around the concept of middle-age, and a lot of stereotypes to challenge. Why are media always focused on menopause or retirement? Or why women of a certain age are always supposed to be playing golf, baking or gardening? What a myopic point of view on midlife!
Midlife is much more than that. And the sad thing is those stereotypes have been slowly but surely affecting ladies, too. Some of us still behave like society suggests we are supposed to behave in our fifties. We dress like we are supposed to dress in our midlife according to what’s expected instead of concentrating on finding our own style and voice.
So, as a lifestyle journalist with more than 20 years of experience, I thought it was the right time to set up my own magazine. I believe women over 40 and beyond are still cool and fascinating. Most of them are well experienced, good connoisseurs, they like traveling, challenging themselves with new sports or hobbies, may have changed career, country, husbands! My magazine is meant for those modern ladies who don’t let age define them.
Stella: How long did it take to plan and organize before you launched?
Michela: Not so long, really! When you have clear ideas of what you want to achieve and how, the magic happens – and having a great team with me helped a lot. It took me only a couple of months to launch. Of course, we are constantly looking at improving.
Stella: How did you get your team together? (Stefania Tomasich, Lorenza Bacino, and Hanna Suni)? Did you already know each other?
Michela: I met these extraordinarily talented people along my career path at different times. I’ve always appreciated their strengths, values and creativity. When I was ready to launch my magazine they came up in my mind. They are all in their mid-something and they are all a bit unconventional in their own way. The idea of celebrating together this stage of life in a positive way has thrilled them since the very beginning.
Stella: What is the role of your Special Guest Contributors and CrunchyTellers in the organization?
Michela: Our special guest contributors are those experts who are happy to share their knowledge and wisdom with our readers, from time to time. The CrunchyTellers are our regular writers and collaborators. Since we have launched our magazine, a lot of women have offered to collaborate or be involved in our events. Being part of the CrunchyTales community makes them feel part of something meaningful. We also offer a spotlight not only to professionals but also to all those unsung heroes who are making the difference in their interpretation of midlife.
Stella: Which came first: The panel discussions, or the website? How often do you hold panel discussions, and where are they held?
Michela: First we launched the website. Then, we realized we wanted to create more buzz around the whole concept of growing older playfully, celebrating ladies in all their midlife glory. With the help of inspirational panelists from different backgrounds, we started to share significant stories of reinvention, motivating other ladies to approach midlife with a positive attitude. Our first talks had a great response, and we continued from there. Our panel discussions are regularly held in England (Chester, London) and Italy (Rome, Milan), five or six times a year. But we are planning to become more international and at the moment we are testing new locations. The USA is certainly in the cards!
Stella: I love your focus on play! How did you decide on that focus for your work with CrunchyTales?
Michela: Thank you. I do believe playful women don’t get old. I am Italian and in my country ladies are witty and flirtatious at any age. They enjoy going out, learning new things, having fun at the age of 60 as well as the age of 30. Yes, time is ticking but our soul doesn’t grow old. In my opinion, in order to nurture our inner child, we constantly need to search for the beauty in and around us. I hope our punchy content and bold illustrations will help middle-aged women to reconnect with their fountain of joy.
Stella: CrunchyTales has a very distinctive look. How did you choose your design features?
Michela: We take pride in being the first solely illustrated online magazine for women over 40. I feel illustrations are capable of highlighting the playful and glamorous side of midlife more than pictures. More than just illustrating a topic, we aim to create an atmosphere, inspiring ladies to think about midlife as a time of renaissance more than winding down. Through our illustrations we want to enhance our content but also show our readers that there is always another side of reality in disguise. We encourage ladies to develop their sixth sense and what better a time than midlife?
Stella: I really identify with your “Weekly Crunch” article about late bloomers. Were you a late bloomer too?
Michela: In some ways, I was. I’ve started growing in confidence and achieving several goals later in life. A strict Catholic education didn’t help me spread my wings during my youth. But it doesn’t matter, I think that time of my life was a way to accumulate experiences, the same ones that when the time was right helped me to break free. Late bloomers need time because they usually don’t come from an easy background. They only learn to move forward by continuous attempts, like a painter in front of a canvas. Actually, sometimes I feel more like a perennial rather than a late bloomer as I always search for new ways of being reborn at every springtime! It’s a never ending process.
Stella: CrunchyTales looks at every aspect of self-care, from food to hugs to exercise. Do you feel that women over forty are discouraged from taking good care of ourselves?
Michela: This is a time in our life in which we might feel demotivated, stressed or low. We have been called the “sandwich generation” not by chance: squeezed in between the urgency of looking after our kids and taking care of our parents, we often end up being quite exhausted. Not even mentioning when we start to do some serious self-reflection. We might feel moody because we haven’t achieved all of our goals yet, or even a little regretful. So, what happens is that we lose our inner compass. If we start to neglect ourselves, the risk is we could fall into a never ending spiral of self-pity. CrunchyTales aims to shake these ladies up.
Stella: What kinds of stories would you like people to tell for your #MyMidlife real stories?
Michela: Tales of reinvention but also personal experiences in new relationships, parenthood, wellbeing at midlife. Stories that ladies are happy to share with our community. We have found that these pieces are always very welcomed by our readers; as they always have the highest engagements. People love to identify themselves with someone who has experienced the same. I’m happy to say all those ladies who have submitted their articles to us in the past have been very inspiring.
Stella: What differences do you see between American and European women in their attitudes about life after the midpoint?
Michela: Good question! What I have always admired in American women, especially when in their middle age, is their incredible optimism, their resilience and their strong motivation never to give up. For Americans anything is possible, at any age. Also, people in the US are more open than Europeans in terms of diversity and inclusion. They like new challenges, new things, new and refreshing ideas. In fact, the grey pride movement started in the US. I see Europe more like a Sleeping Beauty. In general, Europeans take pride in their heritage and for this reason they proceed very cautiously, especially when it’s time to explore new avenues. European ladies are just at the beginning of their midlife awakening. Only recently they have started to become more aware of their values and strength at this age and have discovered the power of their wisdom.
Stella: What can women do each day to make a difference in our lives?
Michela: To put themselves first.
Stella: What is your ultimate goal with CrunchyTales? Is it, at least partly, the empowerment of older women?
Michela: Yes and no! Nowadays, the term ’empowerment’ is often abused. I prefer the word ‘inspire.’ I want to show to middle-aged ladies that the best is yet to come. We don’t sell any formula, any recipe for success, any powerful serum to get rid of wrinkles. We invite ladies to accept themselves, being just the way they are: perfectly imperfect middle-aged women. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t consider room for improvement. CrunchyTales is their new virtual playground. A break from the usual routine, a space where they can feed their mind while enjoying a colorful gallery. Browsing my magazine, I want women to rediscover the voice and joy they think they might have lost.
Stella: Thanks so much Michela, I really enjoy your enthusiasm and look forward to hearing more from you and Crunchytales.
You, too, can contribute to Crunchytales, and you should! If you’re unsure how to start, take a look at these articles of mine that should help you get started!