Fierce

After Making A Name For Herself In New York’s Fashion Scene, Salvadoran Designer Ariela Suster Is Giving Back To Her Own Country

Growing up in El Salvador, one of the most dangerous countries in the world, Ariela Suster witnessed gang rivalry-driven violence firsthand. It’s partly why she decided to move to the US to study and build a career for herself in New York’s fashion industry. But as she climbed the ladder in women’s magazines, she still couldn’t shake the grisly memories and current conditions back home. Suster felt compelled to do something about it, so she founded Sequence, a handcrafted accessories company that employs young Salvadorans who are vulnerable to gang recruitment.

The brand, which Suster created in 2011 with the help of local artisans Oscar Bautista and Natali Orellana, aims to disrupt the cycle that breeds violence in her native land by providing young men with design training, tools and paid working opportunities.

“I didn’t want to just be in New York living my life and not making a difference in my own country. Even if it’s a small difference, I wanted to create something,” Suster told FIERCE.

Credit: @sequencecollection / Instagram

Currently, Sequence employs 40 men between the ages of 18 and early-20s. After engaging in lengthy handcrafting, screen printing and sewing training, the men produce knotted and beaded bracelets, necklaces and tote bags for worldwide consumers. Each bracelet is made-to-order, and customers can customize their jewelry, choosing which colors they want their threads and tie to be, or they can purchase items from collaborative collections with high-end designers like Diane Von Frustenberg and Jonathan Simkhai. Last year, their handcrafted earrings, necklaces, belts, handbag straps and handbag charms were on the catwalk of the Furstenberg’s spring 2018 runway show during New York Fashion Week.

Sequence also frequently teams up with big brands like Universal Pictures and Microsoft to create corporate products for events and conferences. In 2015, for instance, during a partnership with Microsoft, the men added NFC chips to their creations that when tapped against the back of smartphones played a short video that shows how the bracelet was made.

For Suster, who continues to work and live in New York while running her business in El Salvador, these opportunities don’t just help sustain her company but also allows the young men to witness their own potential.

“It’s been amazing watching people not know their own talent until someone shows it to them. One of the things that is unreal was to see the level of the product design and everything,” she said.

Credit: @sequencecollection / Instagram

According to the Sequence website, every purchase made has a social impact. For instance, for every 1,000 additional products sold, the company is able to employ, train and empower another at-risk youth. With paid work, employees have been able to build homes for their families, attend or finish school, or create small businesses of their own.

For Suster, though, Sequence’s mission goes beyond employment. She wants to instill bigger visions in the minds of marginalized young people. Through the Sequence Academy, a project for children and adolescents in Tepecoyo, El Salvador, the company offers free workshops in the arts and technology, hoping that the skills these young people gain will allow them to become agents of change in their own communities and country in the future.

“We don’t just want to affect the lives of the men that work with us but the communities overall,” Suster said. “To do that, we need to provide young people with role models, with workshops, with programs.”

Being a female entrepreneur comes with challenges, especially for women of color, but the work is uniquely difficult in violent environments. While Suster brainstorms ways her business can thrive, she also has to consider the ever-changing conditions in El Salvador and the welfare of her employees.

Credit: @sequencecollection / Instagram

“One of the most challenging things I continue to battle with is pace of growth, which is different when you’re in an environment that doesn’t foster growth, when the ecosystem doesn’t support you, especially as a woman entrepreneur inside a community tackling the issue of violence,” she said.

But she remains determined, seeing changes, even small ones with vast possibilities, as potential to disrupt the cycle of violence in El Salvador and create a new reality for her country and its people for tomorrow. Suster’s confronting it through fashion design and technology, but she wants others, both in the Central American country and beyond, to know that progress and transformation can be made through almost any means.

“You can create change with any skillset you have. For me, it’s fashion, making bracelets and necklaces, but this can be applied to any industry and can be tailored to make a difference in your own communities,” she said.

Read: Why This Latina Started The Bloomi, The First Digital Marketplace For Clean Intimate Care

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Women Are Sharing Their Sage Heel Shopping Advice

Fierce

Women Are Sharing Their Sage Heel Shopping Advice

When it comes to heels the options can beyond overwhelming. From stilettos and block heels to wedges and kitten heels, these pumps are proof that when it comes to shoes it’s not always a one-size-fits-all kind of game.

Women on Reddit recently gathered around on a discussion board, to share their best type of heel advice for women.

Check it out below!

“Sarah Flint is great if you really want to invest. Cole Haan is my personal go-go, but I’ve had success with Corso Como as well. J. Crew also has a surprisingly good selection of footwear and I snag trendy or statement shoes from them from time to time. All of these makers have small sizes in-stock as part of their standard offering.

For heels in particular I think committing to leather is important–if you buy them in the proper size they’ll “mold” to your feet in a way that synthetic materials never will. Pretty important for us wee ones who often have to deal with things running large to begin with.

edited for the bot”- ONTaF

“Thanks for the advice! Every pair of Cole Haan shoes I’ve tried haven’t been my favorites, so I’ll check out the others!”- mimosaandmagnolia

“While decidedly not an expert on heels, I checked the gf’s closet and found lots of Cole Haan and Burberry. She’s on her feet all day doing rounds at the hospital so she’s literally put a premium and is willing to pay a premium to be comfortable when she dresses up (however infrequent that’s been in the last year).

These may be outside your budget if purchased new, but may be brands to keep an eye out for at Nordstrom Rack, etc.”- itsonlyastrongbuzz

“Cole Haan for me. I have a pair of navy capped toe pumps that have lasted me for years and are very comfortable. For particularly small feet, I would recommend a Salvatore Ferragamo Vara pump. They’ve got a nice low heel, come in loads of colors, and they too last a long time if you take good care of them.”- Foxlurker8

“Hi! I think Franco Sarto makes a super cute block heel. Practical but still chic. I usually just go to nordstroms and try a bunch on.”- billnyegirl

“I bought a pair of heels once by Franco Sarto and they left blisters on my feet. I was so disappointed because after wearing them for a day my blood stained the tan leather.”- mimosaandmagnolia

“Definitely an investment but it may be worth looking at M Gemi? I bought a pair of their suede loafers on sale and love them — they are so comfortable! Looks like their heels go down to a size 35 (EU) which I think is close to your size?”- WannaWearMyRedShoes

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7 Five-Star Reviewed Plus-Sized Bathing Suits On Etsy

Fierce

7 Five-Star Reviewed Plus-Sized Bathing Suits On Etsy

Summer is just around the corner! Which means that it’s time to break out the bikinis and go “skimpy” dipping. Here’s where our list below comes in. Of course, it might seem easier to head over to a big box store like Nordstrom or Target to find your next favorite piece for the summer, but why not support a small business doing the work on Etsy?

We put together a list of top-rated bikini items on Etsy.

Check them out below!

Criss cross bandage suit

LILYSHdesign

Five star and 1,047 sales|Price: $149.00

This top selling swimsuit can be worn both as a swimsuit and paired with skirts and bottoms.

But it here.

Backless Monokini Swimsuit

BlackMintRose

Five star 23 sales|Price: $29.99

This handmade multi color printed high waist swimsuit bikini is perfect with the chica with curves and summer rays on her mind.

But it here.

Sweet swim dress

HerinDesignStudio

Five star 142 sales|Price: $92.00

Combining comfort and style this swimsuit is perfect for the swimmer on the go!

But it here.

Multicolor Stripe Halter Neck One Piece

BlackMintRose

23 sales|Price: $39.99

This handmade multicolor halter top swimsuit is beyond perfect for the LGTBQ proud and or the chica awaiting her hot girl summer. According to one reviewer, the piece is well-made and the seller ships items fast!

But it here.

Blocking High-waisted Two-piece

BlackMintRose

23 sales|Price: $39.99

Handmade and created with flattering colors, this high-waisted two-piece will do more than accentuate your best assets. It’ll have you standing out in the waves!

But it here.

Navy Gingham Reversible High Waist Bikini Set

byswim

224 sales|Price: $65.00

This high-waisted bottom and high neck crop top can be swapped for both the top and or bottom for various looks. Go for gingham or a solid color, either way, you’ll be rocking a classic summer look!

But it here.

Personalized Panama Triangle Reversible Top

byswim

224 sales|Price

Reviewers describe this set as being versatile and comfy to wear. The set is reversible so you can 4 different bathing suit looks in one!

but it here.

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