WCW: The Courageous Seyra Rico, Fashionista, Activist

Seyra @ the 2015 10th Anniversary of Hacienda Luisita Massacre. Remembering the prior 7 activists that were killed, and the hundreds that were injured.

Seyra @ the 2015 10th Anniversary of Hacienda Luisita Massacre. Remembering the prior 7 activists that were killed, and the hundreds that were injured.

Every now and then I have the absolute pleasure of meeting a fellow blogger that is just as into social activism and fashion as I am. For a multitude of reasons I rarely meet women that are just as passionate about both - and when I do I make sure to keep these individuals around me. Creatively gifted, into style and not standing for intolerance and injustice in the world that perpetuates it, is a significant sign of a person I want in my life!

Seyra @ 2015 Protest in memoriam of (2) college students, Kristel and Rosanna, whom committed suicide due to high tuition fees

Seyra @ 2015 Protest in memoriam of (2) college students, Kristel and Rosanna, whom committed suicide due to high tuition fees

The first contact I had with Seyra, of Pavements are Runways was through a comment she left on one of my blog posts, "Are you as into fashion and social activism as I am? I have never met another blogger with these same passions!" A friendship was born. Currently, Seyra works full-time for GABRIELA, the only militant organization for women in the Philippines. Seyra's story is one I felt extremely relevant in terms of sharing because it shows a side of The Philippines that many of us do not know, or experience. The media prefers to keep the real issues silent, and thanks to Seyra we can all become not only more aware, but more inspired.

The above photos represent raising awareness for "International Working Women's Day 2015". Anyone who knows me, knows that women's rights is a cause I would go to the ends of the earth for. A lot of American women take for granted the access we have to an education and desirable career path. Many countries around the world restrict these basic human rights based solely on gender. Incredible women like Seyra, are fighting for our rights and raising awareness in a very real and meaningful way.  Please read the below essay Seyra wrote for me, it might just change your perspective on a lot of things, it certainly did for me.

Seyra @ One Billion Rising Revolution 2015 - Dance to End Violence Against Women

Seyra @ One Billion Rising Revolution 2015 - Dance to End Violence Against Women

I’m Seyra Rico, and I’m a full time activist and fashion blogger. I work for International Relations Department of GABRIELA, the only militant organization for women in the Philippines. I became a full time activist after I finished my undergraduate degree. I tried to looking for a typical full-time position, but realized that I didn’t want to be a corporate slave. How could I go about my daily life  when I knew about all of these issues? I felt a calling to help. I cannot be depoliticized. I chose to be a full time activist because I can’t sit around, doing nothing while knowing about all the injustices happening in my country. GABRIELA is part of the International Women’s Alliance, a worldwide alliance of anti-imperialist women organizations. Bringing it back, for everyone to know why I choose this path, we need to historicize it. 

It was July 2013, my first mobilization--during the fourth State of the Nation Address of President Aquino, which is probably the most passionate rally every year for the national democratic movement in the Phillipines. It was an assertion rally, for we wanted to get closer to the venue, but hundreds of police force, and even the military was deployed for that event. The result were cracked skulls, dripping blood and lost shoes afterwards. For every mobilization, we have a buddy system, wherein you will always have a partner or buddy. This buddy goes with you everywhere no matter what. My buddy and I almost got hit with the policemen’s truncheons because we tried to protect the injured activists and medical team assisting them. Shortly afterward, my friend got arrested when he was picking up his glasses. We formed a quick response team and did an indignation rally on the detainment place. About a hundred police officers forced us to disperse  using their shields and truncheons. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the police continued to chase us for more than 1 km. Going as far as entering a fast food chain that people in our group went into. I was crying so hard afterwards because I couldn’t believe that the state I live in was capable of such violent acts. Especially  when their mandate is to “serve and protect,” the people. None of the activists were armed, we were carrying placards and our desire for genuine social change; but the police continued their merciless tactics. Yes, I’ve seen violent rallies on television, but it never seemed real prior to that day. I was inconsolable afterwards, this experience had changed me. This was the start and reaffirmed my belief that freedom isn’t free. I now plan to dedicate my life fighting for freedom and equality.

(Photos Above) Seyra @ 2015 "Mud Walk" commemorating the suffering that the typhoon, "Haiyan" caused one year prior

Being an activist in the Philippines is no easy task. This is an extremely dangerous country for journalists, maybe even one of the worst. That’s what happens when you want the truth exposed. In my line of work I deal with endless contradictions on a daily basis, and activists see the brunt of it all. We don’t have salaries, only allowances to get us through. Yet, we adhere to a philosophy of tireless persuasion and simple living. This means our primary goals in life are not lavish. We stay strong, never getting discouraged in speaking out to the Philippine people, mobilizing and organizing them to fight for their rights. Everyday, I am inspired. This happens in the simplest of ways. At times I am merely listening to news, or talking to the victims of human rights violations. I distinctly remember once speaking with a mother of a desaparacido (activist who had disappeared, and  she was recounting how the army came to her home and demanded their activist son. They didn’t find him, so instead they took her non-activist son. He was never seen found again. It’s just terrible. More recently, I have been moved by the Lumad issue. This is an issue where hundreds of indigenous people are harassed, displaced and killed because their ancestral lands are rich in minerals. It is the state, the military and the transnational companies with private armies that are doing this. This needs to stop.

2015 "STAND UP" rally against budget cuts in Philippines Universities

2015 "STAND UP" rally against budget cuts in Philippines Universities

As you can see Seyra is an inspiring woman. Not everyone can be a full-time activist, but everyone can be a part-time one. There are so many causes out there begging for change and one person truly can make a difference. The next time you forget that, remember my wcw, Seyra Rico. Want to keep up with her on a more regular basis?

Blog: Pavements are Runways

Twitter: Seyra Rico

Instagram: Seyra Rico


This Wednesday's crush goes to the insanely talented founder of online boutique BLK+BLU, Madeline Perard. Madeline stands out to me for several reasons but most especially she is self made, and turned unfortunate circumstances into a flourishing business. Based in Kansas, Madeline manages her global client base ensuring each of her products has a limited number (no restocking!) ensuring the uniqueness of each item. Another fabulous aspect of BLK+BLU is that you will never find an item in excess of $100. The price point is fair, the return policy is excellent, and the quality of the products are guaranteed. Madeline wants the make fashion and style an accessible avenue for everyone as demonstrated in her pricing model. It's difficult to not notice the vast amount of products from emerging female designers. Madeline is someone who has your back, and someone that I deeply admire and feel lucky enough to know. She's as badass as her style is GRUNGYchic..

Madeline Perard, Founder @ BLK+BLU

Madeline Perard, Founder @ BLK+BLU

I was beyond pleased that I had the chance to sit down and chat with Madeline to gain first hand knowledge on how.. oh where do I even begin .. start a world wide online fashion boutique by yourself??! *hint* It's not something that just happens. Madeline had over 5 years of professional experience in the fashion industry working in the world of: Fashion PR, Apparel Marketing combined with a degree in Apparel Marketing and Fashion Events. I have learned a lot from this impressive woman, I have a feeling you will as well.

KM: How does one start an online retail business by themselves?

MP: Brain storm your niche and be committed. Ask a lot of questions especially about coding.

KM: What would you suggest for other young women who were interesting in pursuing a similar career path?

MP: Don't expect a sale or traffic right away, be prepared to explain who you are.

KM: What is a typical BLK+BLU customer like?

MP: Our customers vary I can't even pin point. Our target market is 18-34 and fashion forward.

KM: Where are you based out of?

MP: My office is at home!

KM: What is the meaning behind the name BLK+BLU? How did you think of it?

MP: I came up with BLK+BLU after thinking of a bruise and how you don't have to be sad when hurt, to instead focus on the pain that invented my idea to be my own boss. I also enjoyed the song blk & blu by Chase and status.

KM: Women of color have been significantly underrepresented in the fashion industry, on the runway, and as designers. How does Black and Blue help to change the status quo? Does it?

MP: BLK+BLU offers designer partnerships and has an amazing ambassador program where bloggers of all races are welcome. I think people seeing that we are beyond 'ghetto fabulous' and enjoy fashion forward, graceful pieces. Everything sold on black and blue is analyzed and picked by me. I would never sell anything I wouldn't want to be seen in.

KM: Do you think that women have an advantage over men in this industry? Why or why not?

MP: As women we are are very intuitive. What we offer each other is our relate ability. Trust is very important. We should rely on each for real testimonies.

KM: What is one thing that you find to be true that most people disagree with?

MP: As retailers we aren't just about the sale, at least not at BLK+BLU. We truly care and love when someone receives their product and it is exactly as described. Happiness is important to us. YOUR happiness is important to us.

KM: What were some of the biggest lessons that have impacted the way that you work? What were the lessons, and what was it like before and after?

MP: No man is an island, we all need help and now I have it! Before everything was on me and I started getting really overwhelmed. I now employ both Madison Moore and Erika Roberts - Fashion Students @ Kansas State University. 

KM: How did you make your first sale, what was it, and what was it like?

MP: It was a dress that has unfortunately sold out. The hardest thing about the first sale was being patient, it took time!

KM: As a woman and a successful entrepreneur, what do you think women should be doing in order to change the imbalance of power in not only business settings, but social ones as well?

MP: Be able to mentor and help others in areas you struggled in. As Arianna Huffington posed, "Why do we have to learn through trial and error? Why not learn from one another's mistakes?" I created BLK+BLU online after losing my job with at a company I was at for several years. Without being given a reason why I was let go, I decided to take control of my own life. Before I was all talk about wanting my own business and this change made me finally walk the talk. My overall mission is to be the #1 online destination for affordable fashion. I hope to be the next major women's retailer, online only! I am always looking to help other female entrepreneurs around the globe by offering a designer's program to help with exposure.

Thanks for stopping by for another #WCW and thanks to Madeline for being an inspiration to us all!



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