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Seiba Story

My Life in a Seashell

Nice to Meet You!

Hi, I’m Ashley Shoshan, a fashion loving, beach-bumming, adventure seeking, travel addict. I want to introduce myself, share a bit of my life and the journey that has brought me to Seiba.

I am a child of a multi-cultured family: Middle East meets the Midwest. My mom is a caring, free spirit, animal-lover, who has backpacked all over the world. My dad is an adrenaline-seeking entrepreneur, who arrived in the US with nothing more than a briefcase of walkie-talkies and a knack for sales.

Ashley shark diving
Early entrepreneur training in the shark tank

It is perhaps because of varied background that I have been blessed with global curiosity and a traveler's spirit. My mom has always been drawn to the mystique of Africa, while my Dad makes regular trip to Israel to see family. I love it all! It made no difference whether my feet were buried deep in the red sands of Namibia or floating toes up in the Dead Sea. The more I traveled the more I learned. At each new location, I found myself captivated by the unique, local culture and fashion styles. As I journeyed, I collected handcrafted items and slowly began blending them into my wardrobe.

 

Seiba Seedling

During my college years, my soul yearned to break free of the campus confines. I fed my inner travel bug (and kept my parents happy) by signing up for student exchange programs to extend my learning beyond the classroom. 

Tsenghua teaching

My exchange program also required teaching English in Anhui, China 

I studied aboriginal society in Australia and taught English in Rural China. Along the way, I found some amazing communities, made lasting friendships, and discovered stunning crafts. However, the beauty came along with a great deal of poverty, sickness, and suffering.

World Entrepreneurs Do Good

When I returned to classes in San Diego, I realized that I needed to be more than just a casual sightseer. This realization inspired me to help build World Entrepreneurs Do Good, a San Diego State University Student-Led Social Venture with a mission to alleviate economic problems affecting the global poor. We developed a program to allow students to work the Grameen Bank, a world bank for the poor. Unlike traditional banking, the Grameen Bank assists impoverished populations (primarily women) by creating loans and training so they may create sustainable businesses. It was the very concept behind Grameen that encouraged the growth of Seiba.

 

From Seedling to Sapling 

Following graduation, I embarked on a trip to backpack through Latin America via Mexico, Panama and Brazil. I hiked, swam, danced, laughed, cried, and explored my way through some incredible communities and natural wonders. Along the way I came across a strikingly beautiful weave. I purchased a brightly patterned belt and found that paired perfectly with my bikinis in the day and my jeans at night.

ashley mermaid

Mermaiding in San Blas, Panama

Kuna Yala Ashley

Kuna Yala cuties

When I returned to US, complete strangers began approaching and asking me about the woven belt. What was it, what store did I buy it at, etc. I needed to know more, and so I followed the woven strings back to their origin and discovered an unexpected gem, Chamula.

Ashley and the Chamula

My first visit to the Chamula

Chamula is but one of many indigenous communities within the jungle highlands of Chiapas. Untouched by modern ways, their way of life is a traditional and yet complicated mix of ancient Mayan beliefs and Spanish/Mexican culture and language. Historical conflicts with “modern society” have created reclusive community, wary of outsiders. Chamula is currently an autonomous township with no Mexican police or military allowed in the village.

As I explored the community I learned that despite the beauty and quality of their artwork, they lacked resources for selling it. Many artisans were forced to leave their communities to sell their crafts in the surrounding towns and cities. Others are forced to fend for themselves in the greater world in hopes of finding a way to bring money back to their families. I was saddened to see how poverty and modernization can erode their sacred traditions and break apart families.

Chamula with Converse Flair

Chamula with a converse flair

I believed their weave was so detailed and beautiful that would be loved by many if it could only be seen. However, I also wanted to protect the sanctity of their villages and allow them to remain with their families. If I could build the branches to the greater world, the artisans could continue to live their natural way of life. We would be a team, a life force connecting our worlds together through fashion. We would be Seiba.

Chamula teachings

We can all learn from each other

The Seiba Tree
The journey has just begun and yet everyday we are growing. Just like the sacred Mayan Yaaxché or Ceiba tree, which connected all planes of existence, Seiba will continue to grow branches which connect all fashion+conscious people of the world.
 
With love,
Ashley
xoxo