A native of El Salvador, Ariela Suster moved to New York in 2002 to begin a high-profile career in fashion that included editorial stints at Lucky and InStyle and later, a styling gig on Bravo?s hit reality show ?Shear Genius.? She returned to her South American roots for her latest project,Sequence, an accessories collection that is entirely crafted in El Salvador. Composed of hand-dyed patterned fabric, Sequence necklaces, bangles, and friendship bracelets instantly amp up your summer look with their intricate craftsmanship and use of neon hues. The line?s bohemian leather and suede bags lend an enviable Coachella-esque vibe to any outfit. Sequence pieces not only add punch to your summer uniform, but revive the age-old crafting techniques of El Salvadorian artisans. Through Suster?s partnership with a family-owned leather workshop and frequent training of dedicated craftsmen, Sequence is shaping up to be a rising accessories star as well as a force of change in El Salvador.
1) What is your favorite part of working in your homeland?
I love being home in El Salvador and being close to my family and friends. It?s fun to combine work with an environment that is familiar and has such great energy. I get to work hard during the days at the Sequence workshop in the outskirts of San Salvador and then spend time at the Lake or the beach getting inspiration and having fun.
Ariela in El Salvador
2) What is the inspiration behind your designs? What is currently inspiring you?
The inspiration for the line, especially for my first collection, was very much about illustrating my personal journey and the influence of growing up in El Salvador, blended with my experience in editorial and living in New York. That mix of inspirations is especially present in my color selections. I chose colors that very much remind me of the colors I grew up being surrounded by, and the way that the bright colors are juxtaposed with the muted earth tones is a reflection of the nature and landscape of El Salvador. What has inspired me the most has been meeting and getting to work with the amazing young artisans who I partnered up with to develop Sequence products and with whom together we have created the ?Spread Light & Love? project to positively influence the Sequence of young people?s lives who live in at-risk communities in El Salvador.
Ariela and Miguelina
3) What was the most challenging obstacle you had to overcome in creating your line?
I think production always presents challenges, especially since I spend half the time in New York and half in El Salvador. When I am in New York, even small decisions like a thread color or bead color or size take longer. Even if we have email or phone to communicate, it is still not the same as me being at the workshop in El Salvador and making those decisions and trying the pieces on there. I think production is the area that continues to challenge me. I am lucky to have found an amazing team in El Salvador, which was not easy as well. After a year of me searching for that ?soul-mate? combination I found them and established our workshop. Most importantly, we decided we are in this project together not just to create products but to bring change and new opportunities for young people in El Salvador.
4) What is your favorite Sequence piece?
I designed all of the pieces around the different moods and outfits I would wear. I wear the 5 Knot Necklace over dresses at night. This summer I have been wearing a lot of the neon pieces and of course the Love Knot and Friendship Bracelet I wear everyday.
5) What are your future plans for Sequence?
I see Sequence bringing major change and new opportunities to young people living in at-risk communities in El Salvador. I have been for a while speaking with my dear friend, Adrian Bellani who is an actor in Los Angeles and is also from El Salvador. Adrian?s family has been in the shoe business for many decades and we share the same energy and aesthetic when it comes to style. We have been brainstorming ideas about collaborating on a capsule collection, all produced in El Salvador, combining the style and colors of my jewelry with his family expertise and background in shoe making. I would love to also collaborate with other designers, and create exclusive capsule collections of jewelry to have in their stores and runway.
Check out some of our Sequence faves: