There’s a community of women spread across the US that are changing the way women are empowered globally. By selling Sseko products and sharing the Sseko story, these women are earning an additional scholarship for the women on our team in Uganda! They’re called the Sseko Fellows, heard of them? One of our Sseko Fellows just hit Adventuress Status (that means she sold $10,000 worth of Sseko, in ONE month!) and she’s earned herself a FREE trip to Uganda to meet the team!
Steph Martin is a wife of 11 years to one amazing guy and a full time momma to two wonderful kids living in East Earl, Pennsylvania. She owns a hand lettering business on Etsy…and every once in awhile still plays hair stylist. And of course, she’s a Sseko Fellow!
When did you join the Sseko Fellows Program? Why?
I joined the fellows program in June of this year. At the time I was processing my “why” for my hand lettering business. It fit for me personally but didn’t flow with my brand. However, it fit perfectly with Sseko. My “why” is believing every woman deserves a wild and free life.
I also challenged myself to shop 100% ethically for my wardrobe this year. (Can’t say I’m quite at 100% but pretty close) Basically this means thrift stores are my new BFFs. But, When I did purchase new, I was buying from Sseko! I was so excited to share a product that was ethically made and high quality. I did an Instagram post featuring my new T-Straps and my friend Bri (Queen Mentor of all fellows at Sseko head quarters) commented that I would make a great fellow. I laughed it off because I already felt like I didn’t know what I was doing running 1 business, no way was I going to try to run 2! And then I remembered my why:
I’m a Sseko Fellow because I believe EVERY woman deserves a wild and free life.
What about the Sseko Fellows Program is life giving for you?
Oh man. SO. MANY. THINGS. I think the most life giving thing is how inspiring the women in Uganda are to us as fellows. I’ve never had a conversation with them, but we are connected. I get complimented on what I’m doing “for” these girls. But I think they are doing at least as much, if not more for me. As a Fellow we need the girls working at Sseko Uganda, just as much as they need us. One is not able without the other. Hitting Adventuress is a crazy roller coaster ride. Amazing highs, and discouraging lows. Showing a video of Bridget or Ruth (my Sole Sisters) at a Trunk Show would always come at just the right time, and they’d inspire me to keep going. Bridget says we are over comers. I’d remember things God has helped me overcome to get to where I’m at now. Ruth says to stay focused and determined in our goals. To make bigger goals than we think we can reach. Which is exactly what the Adventuress goal felt like.
One night, only 4 days before my deadline and thousands of dollars go, I went outside. The stars were shining SO bright. I could hear Ruth saying from her video, “when we shoot for the sky, we land among the stars.” I knew I wasn’t going to give up, but I also knew no matter what – Adventuress status or not – I was going to land among the stars.
As Fellows, we are directly impacting the women in Uganda. But we aren’t the heros. We are sisters with the women in Uganda, working together. It’s so life giving to me that a 19 year old girl across the ocean could inspire a 32 year old mom. And here I thought I was standing up to help another woman have a wild and free life. But it turns out – you are what you fight for : wild and free.
Since becoming a Sseko Fellow what’s changed for you? How have you grown?
Being that I hit Adventuress in only my third month as a Fellow, it probably looks like an overnight success. But this is something I’ve been fighting for and praying about for years. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety in a debilitating way for many years now. About 7 months ago I was invited to a mastermind group for business women. All highly successful business women in my eyes. I played myself down as I introduced myself because I didn’t feel as though I measured up. I barely made it through without crying (okay fine – I did cry). All stemming from anxiety.
But I kept going back to the table with these women. I learned most of us usually don’t know what the heck we’re doing but we choose to stand with the one who’s calling us to it.
I was so full of anxiety about having to sit at that table and speak in front of women But now that is a big part of my job description: speaking in front of women. Seven years ago I was struggling to even put one foot in front of the other, let alone talk in front of people If you told me seven years ago I would have a career speaking in front of groups of women, I probably would have died from a panic attack.
So if you’re in a hard season now, I challenge you to think –where will you be in seven years? It could be places you never dreamed of. Maybe you’ll still be struggling with anxiety, like I do. But you won’t let it stop you anymore. You’ll see it coming, and you’ll learn how to process it.
And, You might just find yourself surrounded by the very people you never thought you could be like. But girl, you can. It’s in you. If I can do it, you can. I believe in you!
So maybe it hasn’t been a huge change as anxiety still likes to sneak up on me, but what has changed is that I’m not letting it stop me any longer.
What tenant of the Sseko Manifesto resonates most with you?
How can you ask me to choose only one!? For now, I will go with every great journey begins with one small step. When I inquired about being a Sseko Fellow one of my first questions was what the minimum requirement was. I thought okay, I can do 2-3 show every 3 months, that will be great. Two months later I decided to do 11 shows in one month.
You never know where that one shaky, hesitant, baby step will take you. Just go for it, take that step!
We talk a lot about being brave here at Sseko. What does it mean to you to ‘Be Brave.’?
To be brave is to “go in the strength you have”. You might have very little strength. You might be scared. You might have no clue how to do it, and you recognize that you can’t do it on your own. You also recognize that if God is calling you to something, He will be the strength to walk you through to the end.
The bravest part is that you know all this, but you still follow that first little word – GO. So you go for it.
For me, going in the strength I had looked like this:
I knew God was stirring something in me and I kept trying to make Him just be quiet about it. But you know, God doesn’t like to be told to be quiet. My goal was to get my sole sister a higher scholarship. My dream was to be able to go to Uganda to celebrate this with her. But I said to God, “Who am I to dream so big? Who am I to get to do this?” Very clearly God said, “You are the daughter of the King. You are mine. I told you I had big things for you. Go out in joy and be led in peace (Isaiah 55:12) Here we go girl!” To be brave is to dream big.
I decided to go for this huge Adventuress goal of $10,000 in one month to earn the trip to Uganda. I knew I should have at least 15-20 shows in order to make that happen. But I decided to ask God how many I should do, since this was His thing, not just mine. He lead me to Judges. The story of Gideon. Gideon was the least qualified to go into battle, kind of how I felt. But the Lord came to him and called him, Mighty Warrior. On the days I would feel like this was too much, I would tell myself, God says I’m a mighty warrior. To be brave is to be confident in who God says we are.
In the story of Gideon, God tells Gideon to ‘go in the strength you have.’ This really stuck out to me. I asked myself, what do I have? I had 11 shows booked at the moment. God was clear that I was to do 11 and no more. Quite a bit under the needed 15-20 shows. To be brave is to follow what God asks you to do even when it doesn’t make sense.
God asked Gideon to have very few men going into battle, just like He asked me to have fewer shows going into my adventuress goal. God told Gideon He did this so Israel couldn’t say she did this on her own. So the glory could go to God alone. I knew this before my month started, but somewhere along the way I was getting it mixed up. I had decided that if I still had a couple hundred to go at the end of the month I could just buy some product to make my goal. God brought me to a week before my deadline when I wanted so badly to sign into my Sseko account so I could calculate down to the penny how far I had to go. But God asked me once again, to lay this goal at his feet. In that moment he told me to not sign into my account until the month was over. Putting me completely out of control. I wouldn’t know if I was off by just $50. Was I okay with knowing that God could call me to something that He wouldn’t fulfill? But I followed what He said and stayed true to that. I didn’t sign in. God reminded me this was not about me and how I was going to make this happen, it was about what HE was going to do. In the end, I was thousands of dollars over my goal. I will be in awe of that the rest of my life. When we are brave enough to trust God, to follow His call, He goes above and beyond. All my life I’ve read the verse, “God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine.” I got to live that out through the adventuress goal. He is able. He is our provider.
The bravest thing I can do is live in his will and trust his call in my life.
You hit Adventuress Status! What’s the next goal(s) on your list to achieve as a Sseko Fellow?
Getting our Sole Sisters (all of our university bound team) to 400 badges so they can earn an extra scholarship! I really want to see this happen. And then I really want to celebrate it together in Uganda.
I’m also so excited about becoming a Sseko Stylist and helping women design their dream sandal! Any base with any silhouette ?!? Dreamyyyyyyy
I am seriously considering becoming a Mentor Fellow, but haven’t taken the leap yet. I love encouraging and inspiring others to find their own brave. I hope I to do that through Sseko. To help women discover that they too deserve a wild and free life.
Steph, we celebrate you and your bravery! Ready to join Steph and empower women globally through fashion? Join Team Sseko! And if you’d like to learn more about the Fellows program, don’t miss our next Live Q&A!