Our mission is to use design as a tool to build economies for women and provide healing through creativity.
Established in 2014, Seville for the People (formerly S!RENS) is an economic development initiative that works with women from rural communities to support the attainment of their personal and professional goals. After our own powerful journey of healing through design, we decided to hold jewelry design labs, so others could share in the magic. It is for that reason that we have introduced Healing Jewelry Design Labs, and Candy Jewelry Design Labs for Kids.
Our model is designed to expose women to basic business mathematics & strategy, and provide technical skills to create income generating opportunities for women in vulnerable communities like Villa El Rosario in Morazan, El Salvador. Most participants have limited education, and live well below the poverty line. We focus on relationship building and developing expertise in design with local materials; women learn to create competitive products and sell to markets with Seville for the People. The strength of our relationships supports the growth of new micro businesses.
MEET THE TEAM
FOUNDER, SEVILLE MICHELLE
Founder Seville Michelle has been designing jewelry since 2009 and has been so fortunate to have been recognized by both Vogue Japan and Vogue Italia, and many other major publications for her designs. She is a self-taught, visionary that brings community into her designs. Known for reinventing the jewelry of her youth in New York City, Seville applies the inspiration of her past into the designs of the future.
After a chance encounter with founding programming partner, and former Peace Corps Volunteer Emily Castro. Seville sponsored a jewelry making workshop with women in El Salvador by providing funding and on-site jewelry making workshops which later formed into the template for the Seville for the People mission.
Upon returning from her trip she was invited by the Office of Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment at USAID to present her case study. With the motivation to inspire creativity in others Seville develops compelling lesson plans that all center around jewelry design. Her workshops often include portraits of participants in their new designs with a hand-drawn chalk outline around their heads. Her focus is to always improve her surroundings, ignite creativity, laughter and joy. With an eye that sees the world through a lens of light and optimism, using jewelry making to spread consciousness, and healing.
Belkis is a fighter. She was born in a refugee camp in Honduras during the Salvadoran civil war. Once the violence subsided, Belkis and her family were able to return to their home in Morazan, El Salvador. Despite struggling with reproductive health issues, often finding herself bedridden and traveling hours to see doctors, she was determined to be a community leader and create a better future for herself. Before joining S!RENS, Belkis served as the guide to three Peace Corps volunteers and used music and television to teach herself English. Now at 30 years old, twelve years after finishing high school, Belkis has now returned to school to study tourism in a technical academy through a student scholarship. Belkis is a role model for young women in her community and exemplifies the idea that through hard work and perseverance dreams are attainable. The jewelry that she has made in partnership with Seville for the People has been sold in El Salvador and the United States
Once you get Loyda smiling she never stops, but it’ll take you sometime. Loyda never attended school, her knowledge comes from her life experiences. She has always been introverted, and struggled to connect with her peers. After the death of her first child she further isolated herself. In 2013, when Peace Corps volunteer Emily Castro moved in next door, Loyda slowly started to come out of her shell. Her curiosity around this new addition to her small community lead to many hours spent talking with Emily, sharing her desires to work and make her own money. Before participating in a S!RENS Community Lab, Loyda had yet to recognized her natural ability to create threading patterns. After one week she was hooked and has been making and selling her designs ever since. She uses her love of this work as therapy and sees selling her products as way to interact with her community and influence other women to create. Her artistry is becoming known in the community amongst young girls and this makes Loyda feel independent.
EMILY CASTRO, FOUNDING PROGRAM DIRECTOR
Emily Castro is an organizational effectiveness professional, entrepreneur, and career coach. She studied Sociology at Binghamton University, and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Organizational Change Management at The New School as an Impact Entrepreneurship Fellow. Her background includes project management and event planning within the United Nations as well as working in both international and domestic nonprofits.
She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador from 2013-2015 focused on community organization and economic development. Emily worked with women in rural communities to develop their business management skills while emphasizing inclusive entrepreneurship in order to shift traditional gender views of income generation. While in El Salvador Emily also mobilized efforts to establish the first municipal library in Villa El Rosario.
Following, Emily spent two years working in her native Dominican Republic. She hosted a speaker series designed to de-stigmatize business failure by highlighting lessons in vulnerability and was featured in Forbes Dominicana.