Today is International Day of Non-Violence, and now thanks to designer Ariela Suster's latest collection for her brand, Sequence, you can use your accessories to show your support for peace. Since its launch in 2011, the label has offered handcrafted pieces made by young at-risk artists in Suster's native country, El Salvador. And now, she's bringing more attention to the anti-violence movement on a global scale with Sequence's just-launched #NoViolence Collection, offering two pouches ($65) and a bracelet ($40) available at sequencecollection.com. The goal of the collection? To serve as a reminder that it's possible to prevent individuals from following a path that leads to a life of violence.
For Suster, the new line was the natural next step for her company, which has supported eradicating violence since day one. "In El Salvador, the biggest problem is gang-related violence," she tells InStyle. "So the whole mission behind the brand was really to disrupt that cycle of violence that’s limiting the at-risk youth that lives there. I focused on creating a project that would address the core of the problem."
That involves ongoing training for the young people hired by Suster to craft the accessories in El Salvador, as well as providing financial support to keep them on a safe path. "We teach them the skills to build the product, give them two meals a day, and pay them three times as much as any other job they would be at," she says. "We also focus on an educational program, so we encourage them to finish high school and pursue higher education, and we pay for that as well."
The artists eventually become an integral part of the creative design process. "I come up with the inspiration and the colorways and trends, but after that it's very collaborative," says Suster. "I based a lot of the design on Japanese Manga cartoons for this collection, and one of the authors that I was inspired by was Shigeru Mizuki. He uses a cartoon to talk about the history of violence in Japan, so I brought these books to El Salvador and showed them to the artists." After sharing her inspiration, Suster's team began to brainstorm. "We sat down to talk about why people join a path of violence," she said, adding that "the artists came up with a lot of the words and quotes that you'll see on the pouches in the collection."
No matter where you live, the message of the collection is relatable. "It’s very universal," says Suster. "Anywhere in the world, the reasons why somebody chooses a path of violence are probably the same: lack of opportunity, lack of education, having a family to support, or being alienated. So once we started to see that, we thought it would be cool to create a product that could actually generate a conversation that could transcend cultures."
And that's why the pieces make a statement. "I wanted to create something that was loud and would really speak to the cause," says Suster. She hopes that when people learn of her collection and the cause, they come away with "the consciousness of knowing that with a tiny action you can make a big difference."