Pain, Purpose, + Showing Up


Last week I shared how I enjoyed an amazing and inspiring experience at the launch of Good Market – a concept store launched by Vera Bradley. One happy outcome of that experience was making a new friend, Michelle with Bella Tunno.

Michelle and I met as we were browsing the store and admiring brands. I was drawn to her for her fun style and sense of fashion. Once we began chatting I learned that her passion and purpose is equally striking. She has experienced loss and hardships in her life but has persevered and risen through the heartache.

Pushing through Pain for Purpose

Michelle lost her brother to addiction. He was “her person” and the void that remained once he was gone from this earth is one that she still feels to this day. But, she chose to use her grief for something big and beautiful.  

“Sometimes people struggle to find their purpose because they think it has to be this shiny perfect thing. I could have never imagined that my purpose would come from pain and devastation,” shared  Michelle.

When she learned that there is a correlation between nutritional deprivation and addiction she decided to take action. She founded Bella Tunno which is a modern baby accessory brand  that gives back. For each product sold they provide a meal to a child who would otherwise go without. Through their work they have provided over 5.6 million meals. This year, in 2021, it is projected that 1 in 5 children will not get the nutrition they need on a daily basis. And it is a huge but solvable problem, “that is our goal – to be part of the solution,” she shared. 

I adore Michelle’s authenticity and the honest place from which her company began – it was refreshing to talk with her about things that matter deeply. I am not the only one that feels this way – Bella Tunno is sold in over 2000 independent boutiques and major retailers such as Target, Nordstrom and Buy Buy Baby. Bella Tunno is a certified B Corporation, legally bound to use their business for a force of good. Michelle is also a Vital Voices Global Ambassador and an EY Winning Woman. In so many ways, Michelle is making an impact for good.

Michelle Buelow, Bella Tunno

Always Show Up

We enjoyed more than one opportunity to reflect on our career journeys, families, areas of impact and passions. As we chatted she shared along her entrepreneurial journey the one important thing has been to simply show up. She shared that sometimes, you have to do so without a perfectly polished plan or even crystal clarity around your intentions. But, in that leap of faith you can trust great things are waiting. 

Michelle said, “The other thing about showing up is sometimes it can look like failure until you find out why you were really there. It can feel ‘useless’ and you may wonder ‘why’ but then you let it sit and see what happens. Often, something more beautiful than anything you could have imagined comes from it.”

As I step into a full-time social entrepreneurship role with New Hope Girls (next week!) and dream big dreams personally and professionally, she has reminded me to put in the work by showing up. I don’t have to have all the answers from where I stand today. Day-by-day and little-by-little I will get “there” – even if the “there” feels fuzzy at times. Showing up is a major part of the battle and where I will start.

I love how Michelle’s success and life’s trajectory is a powerful testimony to how showing up is the first step to a rewarding and fulfilling life journey. And, if you find yourself experiencing the unthinkable, in a season of grief or disappointment, consider if you also can use your pain for a purpose. Be open to possibilities and face the hardships head on. Learn from my new friend Michelle and hone in your ability for impact and for good.

Caitlyn Scaggs and Michelle Buelow
I had so much fun meeting Michelle! As luck would have it, we were on the same flight out of Fort Wayne!

2 responses to “Pain, Purpose, + Showing Up”

  1. […] by their passion and purposes and was inspired by how they are leading their organizations. The other leaders were so authentic in our conversations and generous with advice and support. I love being in a […]

  2. […] There is plenty of sadness and pain to stop us in our tracks. But we serve no one well by being paralyzed by fear and darkness – not our community, our family, or especially ourselves. There comes a time when we have processed enough, felt all the feelings, and we must figure out how we will use our pain for purpose. […]

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