The Sseko Brave Manifesto that sits above my desk says to “do things that scare you”, to “practice radical generosity”, and that “like a girl is a compliment”. There is nothing in it that mentions bravery as a synonymous with brawn or power or toughness. As I’ve grown older, I have come to understand that each of us has to define bravery for ourselves.
When I was little, I wanted to be a spy. I wanted to use cool gadgets and chase down bad guys and save the world. I wanted to be strong and stealthy and wickedly clever. I thought it would be so cool to wear leather and be tough and unafraid of anything. I read books about how to look for clues and how to track fingerprints. I tumbled around in my backyard through my make-shift obstacle course, getting dirt under my nails and scraping up my knees. I was training myself to be tough, brave, and fearless.
Then a boy in my neighborhood told me girls couldn’t be spies. He said he’d be a better spy because he was bigger and stronger, and boys knew more about cars and guns. He said he would be a better spy because boys are tougher and braver than girls. I asked my mother if this was true and she told me that spies weren’t real anyway, at least not like in the movies. She told me that I shouldn’t want to do dangerous things; that I was too pretty, too soft, and too gentle to want those terrible things. This is when I started learning about the things girls couldn’t be.
Very early on in my childhood I had a passion to help people. From holding a neighborhood kid’s hand when they fell off their bike, to giving away all my earned chore money to homeless people as I passed by them on the streets of downtown portland; I was a full blown humanitarian from the womb. Figuring out how my profession or future endeavors could envelope a meaningful and compassionate lifestyle was, and continues to be, an unsolved journey. On top of that, my inability to go about daily life without an established plan was the reason why my destiny was predetermined at the age of 10. All my actions became calculated in order to follow my path of being a doctor. Though I loved being artistic and expressing myself through art and fashion, working in medicine anticipated a more comfortable lifestyle that a creative career in either fashion, design or art could not provide. Being a doctor aided people the way I thought was only possible, it had a direct tangible impact on people. Plus Dr. Dempsey had a pretty nice ring to it… My path was then set. Dr. Dempsey it would be.
Say yes to adventure.
Do things that scare you.
The walls in the chic urban office that is home to Sseko Designs are plastered with these phrases, as a constant reminder of this company’s roots. Really, the office is a manifestation of what can happen if you live by these laws: if you do say yes to adventure, if you do things that scare you…which makes me think about the things that scare me.
Summer is an exciting time for Team Sseko because we get to welcome a new group of incredible people to the family. We’re so excited to introduce the newest members of the Sseko team, the Summer 2016 interns! These four inspiring ladies are working hard and are determined to make this the best summer yet at Sseko HQ.
We’ve asked the interns to answer a few fun questions in order to get to know them a little more. Without further ado, please welcome the Summer 2o16 Interns!
Name, Hometown, & Sseko Role: Kristy McInnis || Oregon City || Style and Content Intern
University & Major: Oregon State University || Merchandising Management and Business Entrepreneurship
Bio: Hello, party people! I am Kristina McInnis (my friends call me Kristy), and I enjoy long, romantic walks to the fridge. You can find me in any local trendy coffee shop or blogging for my latest article for College Fashionista. Being a foodie, Portland is home to a plethora of tasty restaurants such as Garden Bar–for that one day a month I want to pretend I am on a diet–or cafe Broader, which is perfect for brunch on those sluggish Sunday mornings.
What part of the Sseko Manifesto resonates most with you and why? I like “Surround yourself with people who believe the best in you”. I am a big believer in being the cheerleader for my friends and family. It’s important to have that feeling of support from the ones you love when you’re out chasing your dreams.
Describe your summer style : My current summer style is about as bipolar as the Oregon weather! I am up-to-date on all the latest trends and styles. Right now, I am all over anything “blush” colored or metallic because they look amazing on all skin tones.
Favorite Sseko Product: I am head-over-heels (or sandals in this case) for Ssekos Crossover Slides in metallic gold and silver. They will be coming home with me shortly!
You are probably looking at these images wondering “what in the world is this girl doing?”. Well, you, my friend are gazing upon rare behind-the-scenes images from Sseko’s 6th Birthday photo shoot. If you take a look at the final pictures from this shoot you never would’ve thought that this is how we got there. The life of a stylist and model is not always as glamorous one may think, but it sure is a lot of fun!
“Sometimes I just hate being a girl.” I used to have this thought from time to time, when I would blame my strong conviction or easily hurt feelings on my gender alone. Emotional connection is something that I have always felt very strongly and intensely. I am easily affected by a violent scene in a movie, hearing about someone going through a breakup or listening to someone talk about his or her dreams. As I’ve grown throughout college and discovered this thing called passion, I have been so confused and frustrated with the emotional distress that can come with deep connection to people, places, or concepts. I am a thinker who struggles to process my thoughts mixed with my emotions.
This is a guest post by Libby Bartley, our Summer 2015 Brave Collective Intern.
In June 2011 I set out on a new beginning as I left my roots in Cincinnati, Ohio to reluctantly embrace a new adventure in the Pacific Northwest. After one new job offer, three layovers and 57 cardboard boxes that packed away a life of sweet memories, I boarded a plane with a one-way plane ticket to embrace the unfamiliar.
As I’ve stepped in to my life here on the west coast, Sseko Designs has played a special role in guiding me as I uncover my sense of bravery. It wasn’t until I moved to Oregon that I experienced a genuine, authentic sensation that pushed me beyond the borders of my comfort zone to confront everything that once intimidated me. Prior to the move, I associated bravery with confidence that came from a comforting sense of familiarity. I had become so acquainted to my life in Ohio that I developed a sense of affirmation about who I was and labeled that assurance as bravery.
This is a guest post by Geetha Somayajula, our Summer 2015 Social Media & Marketing Intern.
When I stepped into the Sseko office on June 1st, I was hoping to learn more about online marketing, and to gain some insight into the fashion industry. What I didn’t expect was to have my worldview challenged; every day at Sseko, I’m forced to reconsider and reformulate my values and beliefs. Who am I? What do I stand for? I ask myself when I leave the office.
Perhaps the most amazing part of interning at Sseko (in addition to playing dress-up with all of the beautiful accessories!) is the opportunity to collaborate with a group of driven and inspired individuals, passionate about empowering East African women and building a more beautiful world.
The boldness of Sseko is empowering for me too.
We’re excited to introduce you to our newest summer interns (our biggest class yet)! These 6 inspiring ladies are already contributing so much to the team, and certainly livening up the office. We can’t wait to see the results of all of their hard work this summer!
I’ve asked them to introduce themselves through some fun questions below, but you’ll also be hearing from each of them in a blog post throughout the summer. Stay tuned!
Name, Hometown & Sseko role: Katie Bergmann, Graphic Design Intern
University & Major: Whitworth University // Graphic Design // Maple Valley, WA
What part of the Sseko Manifesto resonates most with you and why?
My favorite part of the Sseko Manifesto is their saying “do things that scare you”. I sometimes struggle to chase my goals and dreams simply because they scare me and it becomes the only thing that holds me back. It is such a good reminder to always push yourself further than you feel comfortable with or capable of because you never know what could happen if you just take that leap of faith.
Who is your favorite strong female character from TV/movies/literature and why?
My favorite female character from a TV show would have to be Carol Peletier from the show The Walking Dead. She’s my favorite character because in the beginning of the show she’s a very fragile, and scared, but learns to overcome her weaknesses. As the seasons continue, she develops into one of the most level-headed, self-sufficient and strong characters on the show and even takes on a leadership role. Her character shows how going through really difficult times doesn’t have to destroy you but can actually make you stronger. Plus, zombies.
Hi everyone! For my last post on the Sseko blog, I thought I would tell you a little bit about my journey from fan to intern, and the effects that my internship has had on my life.
My history as a Sseko fan began three years ago, in September 2011, when my older sister messaged me on Facebook about some sandals she had seen in a wedding that were made by college-bound girls in Africa. That fateful conversation began an obsession with Sseko Designs that gave me much needed vocabulary like “social business” and “not-for-profit.” A few months later, in March 2012, one of my assignments for my BA 101 class was to conduct an informational interview with someone in the job that we wanted. I had to ask Liz for an interview, since she was my professional role model. I was giddy when she responded and I had the opportunity to talk to her on the phone. As a Sseko fan, I could not imagine anything better, until I was offered the Partner Care internship two years later.
It’s hard to describe how much I love Sseko, but I know that at the very least, there are Five Ways My Sseko Internship Changed My Life.