Mérida Miller

365 Nights of Amsterdammers

In late 2019, we launched an initiative called 365 Nights of Amsterdammers. For one calendar year, a room in the hotel will be kept open for a local Amsterdammer whose vision and work aligns with the QO’s vision and values. Each month, we will speak with one of these 365 citizens of Amsterdam and hear about what they are doing to make Amsterdam the vibrant and dynamic city that it is.

This month, we sat down with Mérida Miller, founder of the Project Fearless, a non-profit focused on empowering young girls. We chatted about her organization, why she identifies with the QO and some of the powerful women in Amsterdam that inspire her most.

QO: Tell us a little bit about yourself, both professionally and personally.

Mérida Miller: I’m originally from the East coast of the United States (FL, VA, MD).  My parents were really resourceful and loved to work with their hands. I started sewing at 14 and ultimately studied fashion design in college. In 2017, while working with Under Armour, I moved to Amsterdam to design apparel within the Innovation Team.

I love being active, which is perfect in a city like Amsterdam, and love exploring this city via bike and foot with my fiancé Elliot. And baking – I love baking and decorating cakes. And not to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty good and tend to use that time to meditate. Oh – and I love my cat.

QO: Tell us a little bit about Project Fearless and how it came to be.

MM:  Ultimately, I felt unfulfilled in my job and looked back to times I felt most inspired professionally. It was when I was educating and creating a space that allowed people to flourish, unhindered by the expectations and restrictions of the outside world. My vision with PF was to create a space where a girl could walk through our doors and shed who she thinks or has been told she needs to be and instead stand tall while discovering her own voice.

We create after school programs where girls age 9-14 can step out of their comfort zones, meet diverse role models, find their voice, and create an impact in their communities. Our courses fall within three categories of Mind & Movement Lab, Community & Leadership, and the Makers Space.

Our mission is to enable more girls to become scientists, engineers, builders, makers, creators or to get to the top of any ladder they wish to climb. We believe that by enabling girls to define how they see themselves from scratch, we will, in turn, rewrite how the world views girls in general.

QO: What has been the most rewarding experience since starting PF?

 MM: The last day of our first Mind & Movement Lab, all the girls and coaches took part in a gratitude circle where we all went around and said something, we were proud of or thankful for. One girl rose her hand and said, “I’m really thankful I was able to join, because I can be myself here and at school I’m too embarrassed to be, and it felt cool to be myself.” I remember all the coaches and I looked at each other and trying not to cry. At that moment I knew we had done good.

Also, I am VERY proud that we had an equal split of Dutch & English speaking girls in our courses. From the beginning of PF it was important to me that we were a place that girls from different backgrounds and communities could come together, meet each other, and work together. Creating bonds that last past our program doors.

QO: You’ve lived here for a few years now. What are some of your favorite spots in Amsterdam?

MM: Let’s pretend it’s a long summer day. This is my ideal itinerary:

Morning workout at F45 Frederiksplein

Mid-morning snack at De Laatste Kruimel

Afternoon of wandering aimlessly around the city, just taking in its quirky charm – I fall back in love every time

Coffee and more snacks at Badeta Koffiebranders in de Pijp (full disclosure, I wrote the PF business plan there, so it has my heart)

Early evening bike ride to Flevopark to just take in the green and fresh air

Dinner at Tasty Talks, an organization that hosts dinners around the city featuring local cooks and diverse groups meeting up to share food and community

QO: Mérida, it’s been a pleasure chatting with you. Thanks for joining us and for your work in making Amsterdam an even more amazing city. 

MM: Thanks for having me!

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