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Brave Collective

Brave Collective, Brave Spotlight

One Sseko Brave’s African Dream

After learning about a current project Sseko Brave Collective member Chido Dhliwayo is embarking on to help her mother publish a book, we were captivated by the story she is telling and the story of her mother, Letwina’s journey. While acclimatizing herself in Portland, Chido attended Portland State University and it was through an internship she had that crossed paths with Sseko. Sseko Designs had brought the documentary “Girl Rising” to Portland and it was there that Chido first learned about Sseko’s mission and ultimately joined the Sseko Brave Collective. It wasn’t long until Chido and Letwina began taking Brave steps together! We are honored to share with you the story of these two and how bravery has shaped the narrative they are writing.

I grew up as the only girl in a family of four and was the only sibling to obtain a degree at the University of Zimbabwe. Despite the obstacles I had to overcome, I got my dream job as a project manager at the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) and married the man of my dreams (at the time). I gave birth to two amazing children and I thought I had it all figured out. During this time, the Zimbabwean economy was booming, agriculture was thriving and the donor community was investing into numerous programs. I lived comfortably, while my children attended private boarding schools I looked forward to hosting/attending baby showers every now and then.

One Sseko Brave’s African Dream | Sseko Designs

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Brave Collective, Life at Sseko

Yoga in the Park: A Sseko Brave Meet-up

There are a multitude of reasons that working at Sseko’s U.S. headquarters in Portland, Oregon makes for a killer gig: A compelling mission that makes getting out of bed on Monday morning about more than a paycheck. The chance to wear and share gorgeous, high-quality products. A beautiful office space full of fierce and inspiring co-workers.

Yoga in the Park: A Sseko Brave Meet-up | Sseko Designs

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Brave Collective, Intern Life

“Like a Girl” is a Compliment

“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.

Like a Girl is a Compliment - Alex Mallot
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Brave Collective, Intern Life

Becoming Brave

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.

Becoming Brave | Sseko Designs

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Brave Collective, Intern Life

Stand Up for Yourself, and Those Who Can’t

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.

Stand Up for Yourself, and Those Who Can't | Sseko Designs

Stand Up for Yourself, and Those Who Can't | Sseko DesignsStand Up for Yourself, and Those Who Can't | Sseko Designs







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Brave Collective

Own your Brave

Hiya Braves!

Holly at Sseko HQ here. This month we are focusing on what it means to ‘Own your Brave’. To kick it off, I want to share with you a small piece of my Brave story and what it means to me to ‘own your Brave’.

From a young age i’ve been labeled by my family as the brave one. The first to jump off the high-dive at the pool or keep a stoic face as the nurse gave me a shot in the arm. I spent a solid two early years of life with a black eye from various failed endeavors trying to prove myself with very little height or coordination. Bravery soon became synonymous with ‘doing’ and the idea that performing grand acts like being first to test out the homemade bike ramp or later on in life, packing up and moving to another country by myself for nine months, was the only way to prove that I have a brave spirit and to gain recognition as such.

I moved to Portland three years ago from my home state of Texas. Over the course of this time, my life has looked different that what I’d initially dreamed and schemed of. The plan after finishing school was to travel the world, starting with just a year in Portland.To follow my wanderlusting heart around the globe spending time as a shepherdess in New Zealand, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, running along the Great Wall of China, and driving from Cairo to Cape Town, that was the ultimate dream. Well friends, as you can see, that didn’t exactly happen. I fell in love with the city of Portland, its people, and my job so I stayed. Every so often I feel an overwhelming panic that i’ve missed my chance, that I’ve failed and I’m not brave because I didn’t fulfill the story i’d written for myself years ago. But then I remember the reality is that I was brave in choosing to put that narrative aside and stay, and although my story has taken a different course than my original intent, it is brave too. Choosing to stay meant digging deeper into relationships, exploring the curious pulse of the Portland culture, and working to make something beautiful in this world through my work. In my moments of panic, I remind myself of this truth: my story IS brave, and I own that Brave.

Own Your Brave | Sseko Designs
When you own something, you don’t have to prove that you own it, it’s just yours. The shoes I am wearing right now are these amazing blue ballet flats (made by this really rad company i’m into, its called Sseko Designs–maybe you’ve heard of it). I don’t have to prove that the shoes are mine, I know they are mine because the insole has formed to the mold of my foot perfectly, the small mud stain on the side of the left shoe indicates the exact location where I stepped out of my car into a pile of mud ( I live in rainy Portland, mud puddle awareness is an issue). With each passing day I choose to wear my shoes, the more mine they become because I choose to live life in them, and life is messy and leaves its marks.

Bravery isn’t something we have to prove. I don’t have to walk around telling every person I interact with that the shoes I am wearing are mine, it is assumed because i’m wearing them. Likewise, I don’t have to jump off makeshift bike ramps, or quit everything to travel the world to be marked as Brave (although it is still a dream and if you’re doing that, I want to hear all about your travels please!!!) . Brave is not something we have to ‘do’ in order to show the world that we have it. It becomes who we are the moment we claim it and wear it, we begin to take ownership of it. At Sseko, we don’t encourage each other to ‘do’ brave, but to ‘be’ brave. There is a courageous, authentic, unyielding women inside all of us with inherent ownership over our own stories, our own Brave, that is different from any other woman’s Brave. Instead of putting our energy and focus toward proving to the world that we are brave and looking to our right and left to see how others live out their Brave, lets take ownership of our own story and wear it proudly, to me, that is the ultimate mark of what it means to Be Brave.

Own Your Brave | Sseko Designs
Own Your Brave | Sseko Designs
Interested in joining the Brave Collective? Learn more by visiting our Brave Collective page.