Sseko Designs: Fashion on a Mission
My Sseko story in some ways takes me back to 2012. I traveled to Uganda with my sister as part of a missions trip to work with orphans. I had big dreams of making a lasting impact on the life of one of the boys or girls there, but in reality they were the ones that changed me. There is so much joy in those little ones that have nothing. It broke me in the best way.
Fast forward to 2016 and I still couldn’t shake the thought of Uganda and what it meant to me. That year, I came home to a surprise gift from my husband: a purse from Sseko Designs. And to my complete joy, I learned how Sseko was making an impact on the lives of young girls in the heart of Uganda. It felt like my passion for this country and my love for ethical fashion had just intersected in the sweetest way. (Photos of me by Nicole Mickle Photography.)
That’s why I love Sseko so much. It’s a company intentionally getting after the needs of others, but in a way that empowers and uplifts. Sseko is about people. And that’s something I can get behind.
Not familiar with Sseko Designs? Let me tell you a little bit about their impact.
Sseko Designs is a fair trade, ethical fashion brand the employs women in Uganda to make beautiful products for resale -- but it's more than just sustainable employment. The women that work for Sseko earn money that goes directly to their college education, which is key to paving the way for future careers. Sseko has empowered more than 80 women to attend university.
Sseko's foundation is this: "We believe that every woman has a dream. When she is given the opportunity to pursue those dreams, we are collectively walking towards a brighter and more just and beautiful world. Sseko products are all made in Africa and create jobs, empower artisans and help end the cycle of poverty by building healthy communities and economies."
A few weeks ago, my long time Instagram friend Steph Martin offered to host a Sseko Social for our online community to take part in. As a Sseko Fellow, she is helping to connect women across the U.S. with amazing artisans in Uganda. I love Steph's heart and passion for helping make education a possibility for these young girls! We've had so much fun kicking off the social, and we want you to have a chance to join in over the next few days too! HINT HINT -- there is a pretty sweet GIVEAWAY!!! Read Steph's story below and then see how you can get your name in hat for an amazing gift! If after reading this post you are interested in purchasing from Sseko, you can shop our Social through THIS LINK! Bonus: If you shop through this link between now and Feb. 11 you get additional entries in our giveaway!
My chat with Steph:
Can you tell our readers briefly about yourself and family?
Hi, I’m Steph. I’m so honored to be here on Elleanor and Indigo. I live in Pennsylvania - Born and raised, never moved away! I’ve been married to a pretty incredible guy for 12 years. We have an 11 year old daughter and 8 year old son. We love to go to the beach, watch movies and laugh. A LOT. My daughter and I are currently obsessed with Heartland on Netflix. My favorite hobbies are leading dance worship at our church for elementary girls and hand lettering.
What inspired you to want to become a Sseko Fellow?
In 2016 I challenged myself to only shop ethically made for my own wardrobe. I had to be able to track what I bought to the maker, or shop at thrift stores. So Goodwill it was! When we I did buy something new it was From Sseko. I’d be so excited to have something new I had to share it! I posted my Sseko Tstrap Sandals on Instagram and my friend said, “you’d be a great Fellow”. About 3 weeks later we co-hosted my first Sseko Trunk Show!
Since joining, what have been a few of the highlights of your time with Sseko?
When I started with Sseko I was excited to be a part of impacting women in Uganda. One of the highlights has been how much MORE my sisters in Uganda have impacted me! They inspire me to not give up, to be brave and to chase my dreams.
Of course, feeding my wanderlust spirit is such a highlight. In less than one year I was able to travel to Uganda, Portland, and Dallas because of Sseko. Being with like minded women who are on a mission to lift each other up and call out the best in one another is a definite highlight. I had no clue joining Sseko was going to give me a Global Sisterhood, but I’m so glad it has. The sisterhood is now my favorite part of being a Fellow.
We share a mutual love for Uganda! You’ve already had the opportunity to visit and meet your Sseko Sister, Eva! Can you tell us about that experience and what it was like to spend time with your Sister?
Ahh! I’ll try. It’s one of those experiences words just can’t do justice! Everyone says a trip like this is life changing, and it’s so true! The people of Uganda are so warm and welcoming. Spending time with Eva, my Sseko Sister has given me countless life lessons to hold onto. I was really nervous to meet Eva! I knew she tends to be quiet and I wondered how quiet. Will it be hard to connect? But I had nothing to worry about. We became best friends in an instant. Sseko has awarded me “Most likely to be separated at birth from her Sseko Sister”, and “Most likely to move to Uganda to be closer to Eva”. So yeah, it wasn’t hard to connect!
The biggest thing I took away from not only my Sseko Sisters, but most people I met in Uganda was their Faith. They are SO sure of what they hope for and certain of what they don’t (yet) see. They overcome great obstacles, and are STILL so hopeful for the future.
Eva and I, and our daughters, have a big dream for the day our daughters meet in Uganda. Eva has taught me to continue to leave it in God’s timing and to be SURE it will happen!
In fact - a percentage of every purchase made through me or one of my hostesses is getting us one step closer to plane tickets for our daughters’ dreams to come true!
Sseko is an amazing brand that is dedicated to empowering women through fair trade fashion — why is shopping fair trade important to you?
Fair trade Fashion is important to me because I can feel confident that my dollar is voting for a more Just and vibrant world. I know that the maker of my clothing does not have to worry their job will be gone tomorrow or if they’ll be paid at the end of the month, or how their boss will treat them. Fashion isn’t just about me when The Pieces I’m wearing are empowering the person who made it.
You’ve already peaked our interested in the Sseko Fellows program! For those of us considering this as a full or part-time opportunity, what our first steps in getting started?
Every great journey begins with one small step. I’d be so honored to be the one to take that step with you if you’re interested in being a part of the Sseko story. The first step is reaching out to me! You can email me at email@example.com with any questions you have. And I’ll get you moving in the right direction. Please reach out even if you’d just like to learn more but aren’t committed to saying yes right away! I can guarantee you’ll find purpose, worth, and a seat at the table with the Sseko Fellows.
Sseko just released their latest line, and it’s gorgeous!!! Seriously, the color pallet is just beautiful! Can you tell us what some of your favorite pieces are from the new releases?
I’m so glad you said peice(s) Because there’s no way I can pick just one!
Our newest sandal design is a Double Strap Platform and it feels like I’m walking on clouds.
I’m completely obsessed with anything in our Tropical Palm print. I especially love it on our Short Duster. In an ethical wardrobe I need pieces that are going to work triple time for me. I love the Duster because it’s elevates a simple black jeans and T-shirt outfit. I plan to wear it as my swimsuit cover up. AND it makes the perfect robe! It also comes in a beautiful pink swirl print.
Our Mint Ring Pouch is the perfect on the go companion. It sits effortlessly on your wrist. It’s that perfect tropical ocean blue. Is it a bracelet? Is it a bag? It’s BOTH!
Okay, last one - promise!! I have to thrown in one product that comes back season after season. Our Sheba Hand Bag. It’s handles are the perfect size to fit over your shoulder or hang from your elbow. And while it’s our most “fancy” proper bag - Sseko is all about functionality. So, it comes with a detachable crossbody strap!
Hosting an in-person or online Sseko Social is so fun! It’s a great way to bring your closest friends together and shop with a purpose. For any of our readers wanting to host a social, especially an online one, where do they go to sign up?
Sseko shows are so much fun! They’re really easy to host as I walk you through every step. It’s a great way to get the Sseko Story out to your community and you can earn free Sseko Swag! Plus you’re helping a woman in Uganda pursue her wildest dreams. Again, you can come straight to me by getting in touch on instagram : @ssekofellowsteph or by email Steph.firstname.lastname@example.org
Yay!!! Giveaways are our a favorite! Steph is so sweetly gifting a leather clutch in the color Mulberry (photo to the right!) to one of our readers!! So how do you enter? Easy!! Head over to Instagram and make sure you are following @elleanorandindigo and @ssekofellowsteph. See our latest post with this clutch and tag a friend! Each separate comment with a tag is an extra entry! BONUS! Shop our Sseko Social and get 5 EXTRA Entries!! Simply head to this LINK and place any purchase. We'll automatically add your extra entries in our giveaway. Giveaway and shopping will run through Feb. 11th!