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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Besamé Cosmetics’ Sold-Out ‘Lucille Ball Collection’ Is Officially Coming Back This Fall

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Besamé Cosmetics’ Sold-Out ‘Lucille Ball Collection’ Is Officially Coming Back This Fall

Archive Photos / Getty

Fans love Lucille Ball so much that when Besamé Cosmetics launched a collection dedicated to her back in June all of its items were sold out within a matter of twelve hours. The collection paid homage to the beauty of the iconic Hollywood comedian who, alongside her husband (Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz), starred in the television classic “I Love Lucy.”

Now, the souped-up limited-edition Lucy items are back by popular demand.

The launch date? This September.

Lucy fans can pre-order lipstick of the new line on the brand’s website.

“Already, hundreds of orders have come in to pre-order these colors inspired by classic Lucy looks,” a representative from Besamé told Allure about the line which pays homage to the iconic actress’s signature look.

The retro makeup line gives fans a chance to seize up to seven beauty items that are supposed to match the makeup Ball wore in her days of stardom. The Ball collection comes complete with an eye shadow palette, lipstick, a pressed powder compact, and a pencil set for eyes and lips.

Like every Besamé item, the collection’s products are encased in rounded gold. This time, however, they come with a special design that features an original drawing of the actress.

The collection can be purchased as a bundle for $150. Additional gifted items will be included for the whole bunch.

According to Allure, those who purchase the collection will receive “two additional and exclusive products: an I Love Lucy tote bag and a set of false lashes the brand says ‘are based on the exact size, shape, and color that Lucille Ball wore.'”

The Lucille Ball collection is just the first in a new collection by Besamé.

Besamé has stated that they intend on producing an Iconic Women Series featuring iconic figures from history. It’s unknown as of yet who else will be featured on the upcoming products but we’re crossing our fingers for Latina icons like Dolores Huerta, Celia Cruz, and Rita Moreno.

Latinas Are Defining Their Natural Hair For Themselves And It’s Pretty Beautiful

Fierce

Latinas Are Defining Their Natural Hair For Themselves And It’s Pretty Beautiful

Cameron Spencer / Getty

Pelo. Whether we grow it, curl, straighten it, or shave it we sure can’t seem to get enough of it. While, of course, we understand that having hair does not define us, for so many of us it means so much. After a recent stunning post, we found on Instagram posted by @goddess.veil we decided to ask Latinas the ultimate question.

“How would you describe your natural hair?”

And as it turns out, Latinas had quite a bit to say. Check it out below.

This chica described it as her BFF.

“El frizz y volumen mis mejores amigos!!” –beaamartz

“My hair is naturally red, extremely thick, coarse, and wavy. I even had a hairdresser compare it to llama wool I have learned how to take better care of it now that I’m older and not hate it anymore.”- katy_katie_katu_kat

And so many chicas called it wild and loved.

“Wild, free and unapologetic! I’m so glad I never listened to all the negative people that used to tell me to straighten my hair…no heat damage over here boo.” – lizbeth_ariana

“My glory it’s long curly and rebellious lol no matter what products I put in it does it’s own thing so I’ve embraced my natural curls and baby hair and even my natural color.” – ari_sotof

“Wild.” – tatismoreira

“God-gifted.” – jcarcreative

Greñuda and perfect.

“Greñuda con estilo.” – jannexees

“Free.” – storyexploratory

A fighter.

“Wanna be curly but wavy to frizzy on it’s best day. Can’t make up its mind but has a mind if it’s own until I bring out the straightener and we duke it out. The heat always wins!!” – tiazoom

“A natural flow with some wave.” – lidi83

Long and strong with the power and beauty passed onto to me by my ancestors.” – bri_g16

The indicator of my many moods lol depending on how I have it represents my mood of the day.” – jenivy09

Full of Vida is our favorite way to describe it.

“Wavy and full of vida.” – misdaisy

And we can’t help but tear up a little bit over this description as a protector.

It’s my protector, lays long as rapunzels in the stories, part of my identity and soars as the birds in skies and as blessed as God made me. HAPPY WARRIOR WEDNESDAY MIS GUERRERAS AND SISTERS! BLESSINGS ON THIS RISING!” – brightdollface