Is a social entrepreneur and activist turning crisis into triumph by actively empowering others to tap into their greater selves.
Of her company SEQUENCE, Ariela believes that the ability to achieve success is a matter of redirecting one’s pain.
Born and raised in El Salvador, Ariela has lived a life tainted by the unexpected having grown up during the Salvadoran Civil War. No stranger to violence, she saw firsthand the harrowing effects of war during a period that included the kidnapping of her brother, military invasions, shootings in her home, and car bombs in her neighborhood. Rocked to the core at an early age, Ariela made a conscious decision to change the sequence of events that kept her country and its people in a pervasive cycle of violence and destruction.
Leaving El Salvador as a young woman to attend Skidmore College in the United States, Ariela immersed herself in her studies, graduating and then going onto complete a Graduate Certificate Program at Harvard University. After her studies, she moved to New York where she quickly forged a name for herself in the fashion industry, holding senior editorial and stylist positions at Harper’s Bazaar, Lucky, and Instyle Magazine. Despite professional success, Ariela knew that she was not fulfilled purposefully and decided to leave the editorial world to pursue her driving force: a mission to address the issue of violence that had once affected her family back home. Taking her education and working experience in the US, Ariela saw an opportunity to influence the narrative of her country’s past by working with at-risk youth to handcraft beautiful, artisanal products that create and inspire personal transformation. In 2011, SEQUENCE was born -- a handcrafted accessories company that employs young men and women who are vulnerable to gang recruitment in El Salvador. On a mission to disrupt the cycle of violence that limits at risk youth, she has effectively used her business to create employment opportunities for youth, particularly young men, in the most violent communities, as well as focusing on supporting programs that focus on their personal and professional development.
Ariela has successfully taken SEQUENCE beyond El Salvador using her unique brand of collaboration that has allowed her to form advantageous partnerships with entities like Microsoft, MAC Cosmetics, Universal Pictures, Bank of America, Deloitte and Vital Voices. In addition to a special feature during NYFW as part of a collaboration with Diane Von Furstenberg, SEQUENCE products are sold today online and in JAPAN through a collaboration with MANIUNO and sold exclusively at stores like United Arrows and Haneda Airport.
Having faced many business challenges related to gang violence and then managing to creatively resolve, re-structure, and re-start after a crisis, Ariela has become an award-winning social entrepreneur and inspiring speaker.
Understanding the importance of representation and sharing stories, Ariela is a frequent guest to the stage, empowering and inspiring audiences to turn their pain into power. Whether she is giving a keynote address, sitting on a panel, or delivering a virtual talk, Ariela focuses on themes that help listeners:
How to get back up after crisis, reframe challenges into new opportunities and effectively pivot your life or your business.
Her lessons and tools from partnering with corporate companies to collaborating with former gang members and at -risk youth.
Turning Pain and challenges into new opportunities for growth, change and positive impact. Using her personal story as testimony of how you can turn pain into power and adapting the lessons learned working with youth in violent and at-risk communities, she has created tools for anyone to be able to build inner power.
Connecting with your core values, purpose and vision and aligning it with your work or business.
Discovering and aligning your employees’ personal mission, values and vision with the products.
Fellow with the Aspen Institute’s Central America Leadership Initiative (CALI). Recipient of the 2018 DVF Award by designer and activist Diane von Furstenberg in Recipient of the 2017 Economic Empowerment Award by Vital Voices.