Seema, founded by Alisha Fredriksson, is a grassroots social enterprise based in Maharashtra, India, that serves to empower women of the region in a sustainable fashion whilst creating beautiful and unique jewelry.
On my first day in Vancouver, I was fortunate enough to meet with Alisha, a fellow United World College-er, in person. She ever so patiently waited for me as I navigated, with her help, through the city of Vancouver with new eyes.
Although I had already read Alisha’s story behind founding Seema on her website www.seemacircle.com, I wanted to hear Alisha’s complete journey, from where the idea of starting Seema first came from, to where she is now with Seema, and how exactly she got there.
Alisha and I spoke for about a good hour. And after struggling with the spelling of Indian villages such as Shilaeshwaer [I don’t think I even spelled it correctly!], Alisha’s ongoing journey with Seema from its beginnings in December 2012 to now was well documented.
However, what I wanted to share the most with my readers is what I found, after understanding her journey, made Alisha tick: What gave her the energy, spirit and courage to find the idea to start and follow through with such an amazing enterprise. By sharing my observations, I hope to inspire others to find the energy, spirit and courage to find their own extraordinary ways to create social value and contribute to sustainable development.
I found Alisha to be someone who keeps her eyes wide-open and courageous heart strong. If she sees something that catches her attention whilst she is out on the streets in India for example, such as a smiling face or an elaborately dressed woman- she will care enough to take out her camera and document what exactly caught her attention.
To quote Louis Pasteur, ‘Chance favors only the prepared mind’. Being wary of your surroundings is the first step towards becoming favored by chance. The second step is being ready to make differences and interact with those surroundings.
The third step is trusting your gut, and gracefully taking grasp of the chance that would like to favor you. Patience and tolerance are essential virtues to develop in order to gracefully take grasp of chance. Indeed, Alisha had a number of challenges on her journey towards founding Seema, such as what to do when only three village women attend a jewelry workshop initially planned to have at least ten to fifteen attendees, language barriers, communicating with India from the other side of the world in Canada and Europe, and finding the right suppliers to be used for the jewelry. Without such virtues of patience, tolerance, and grace, I don’t think Alisha would’ve gotten much farther with her idea for Seema than words left static, jotted down in a notebook. Moreover without Alisha’s great patience, I don’t think she would have been able to meet me more than 2 hours later than our scheduled meeting time!
Chance works in strange ways, and as understanding Alisha’s ongoing journey has reminded me, we must be patient, tolerant, and gracefully allow chance to work its magic into our lives.
With these words in mind, I was not surprised when Alisha described how the idea of starting Seema first came to mind when she simply brought home a pair of paper-quilled earring made by a girl from the Akshara Programme.
You can view and pre-order pieces from Seema’s collection here. You may also provide Alisha with a comment regarding how much you would be willing to pay for the jewelry you would like to pre-order.
P.S. Each piece in the collection is named after a Hindi number.