Deanna Sunseri is a May 2014 graduate of Millersville University who is now working for a unique business. Sunseri (maiden name Tully), majored in business administration with a marketing focus and now lives in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. At the end of 2019 she made a connection via LinkedIn which led to her position at sustainable fashion brand, The Big Favorite, which was recently featured in an article in Vogue, Fast Company and The World Economic Forum. The start-up also recently co-signed a letter to the President of the United States, alongside dozens of sustainable fashion brands, declaring an emergent need to appoint a federal position to hold the industry responsible for its environmental and human rights violations.
“The founder, designer and entrepreneur Eleanor Turner and I connected via LinkedIn at the end of 2019. She was in the early stages of getting The Big Favorite up and running and was in the market for someone to run business operations for her soon-to-be-launched brand,” shares Sunseri. “I was immediately drawn to the vision and mission: creating an innovative business model that reduces landfill textile waste via a revolutionary take-back program for undergarments. I know, I know. Weird, right? Count me in.”
Sunseri began consulting with the start-up after connecting with Turner on LinkedIn and by November of 2020 the business successfully launched. Her role for The Big Favorite is to run business operations, but as Sunseri explains, this covers a lot.
“You touch everything within the business. Setting strategies, measuring return on investments, key performance indicators and objectives and key results of those strategies, managing a team, overseeing marketing, press, HR, partnerships, production, technology, product development and supply chain. Usually all in the same day,” Sunseri says.
“In every job I’ve ever had, I’d always found myself doing more than the role entailed. And I honestly did think it was a curse, at first, I kept finding myself overextended and burning out, as companies and people demanded more,” Sunseri shares. “But I had a realization a little over a year ago where I reframed this into a blessing, putting myself into environments, or creating them myself, where I could thrive. A start-up culture is where people like me flourish, wearing all the hats, doing something different every single day, every single hour. Start-ups need people like me, and people like me need these super-agile, dynamic environments.”
Sunseri is passionate about working for a company aimed at being a sustainable part of the fashion industry. “When we talk about the climate crisis, ethical design and ethical consumption are necessary conversations we all need to have,” says Sunseri, “Companies make ‘too much stuff’, we buy ‘too much stuff,’ and that ‘stuff’ ends up in the trash. That ‘stuff’s’ lifecycle ends in a landfill, biodegrading over thousands of years, pumping methane into the atmosphere (which is 30 times more potent than carbon.) So, unethical consumption and unethical product development contribute to our warming planet in a BIG way at scale.”
“Scary statistic time:11 million pounds of undergarment textile waste goes into landfills every day in the U.S. every day. Why? Undergarments are the one apparel category that can’t be donated or resold,” Sunseri explains that this is why the business model of The Big Favorite spoke to her, “The vision of The Big Favorite drew me in. The Big Favorite is here to create the best undergarments on the planet, for the planet, using an innovative take-back program so our “stuff” never ends up in a landfill. The line of plastic-free unisex ‘understuff’ is fully circular, which means we take them back and recycle them into new yarn when they’re worn out.”
While at Millersville, Sunseri actively involved in extracurriculars. “My time at MU was nothing but memorable,” says Sunseri. “I was involved in a lot – an internship with the comm department, then another doing graphic design and marketing for dining services, a part-time job at The Galley, the All Campus Musical Organization, the University Theatre Executive Board, the National Society of Leadership and Success, ENACTUS , not to mention a full schedule of business classes and projects.”
“MU taught me to appreciate ‘the time in between things.’ During those beautiful campus walks from-something-to-something-else, I’d take an intentional minute to appreciate where I was, notice something I’d never noticed before, and be mindful for even just a moment to energize myself,” Sunseri shares of her memories at Millersville.
Sunseri gives credit to the various support systems Millersville has set up for both its students and alumni. “The staff, professors and mentors at MU are always on your team, so don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation or take risks,” Sunseri shares. “Some students take advantage of the support system, and others won’t; I can tell you it’s worth doing – make your time here yours.”
To learn more about The Big Favorite’s sustainable mission, click here.