Three Latin American women with three different skill sets from St. Thomas University wanted to bring representation from their culture to Fredericton and empower other women. This inspired them to create a jewelry business called Asteria.
Asteria is named after the Greek goddess of falling stars and is run by STU students Sofia Paura, Isis Lucchesi and alumna Oriana Cordido.
Asteria was inspired by Cordido’s family, who makes jewelry in Venezuela. Cordido’s aunt told her she had some pieces she would like to sell and materials she could sell to Cordido. She also told her she could teach her how to make them.
“I have always been surrounded by it,” Cordido said.
Cordido, who’s from Venezuela and graduated last year, uses her business skills to help in her position as the chief executive officer for Asteria. She also ships the materials from Venezuela. Paura, a third-year student from Brazil, is the chief marketing officer and is in charge of social media and planning events. Lucchesi, a third-year student from Brazil, uses her passion for fashion in her role as fashion and creative director and looks for new trends Asteria can use.
The three women said a big reason why they started Asteria was because of STU and University of New Brunswick’s Enactus program, a world-wide organization that tries to solve community problems through business ideas.
“None of us came here planning to have a business,” said Lucchesi.
Cordido decided to go for it because she wanted to practice being her own boss and wanted an opportunity to start an initiative that could also focus on women empowerment. Cordido reached out to Lucchesi and Paura because she knew they were passionate about fashion and marketing, respectively.
Asteria’s necklaces, bracelets and earrings are based off of Latin culture. They’ve made pieces in silver sterling and metal bronze dipped in gold and rose gold, some with colourful gems.
The jewelry-making process they follow comes from Venezuela. Lucchesi said jewelry pieces like the ones Asteria sells are popular in Brazil, but she hasn’t seen them in Canada or the United States.
“We wanted to bring this Latino touch to Fredericton,” she said.
Paura said they wanted to show their culture in the jewlery because they think it’s important for people who are not from it to know about it.
“We think it’s important to bring this sensation of ‘I feel represented’ even if it’s through pieces of jewelry,” Paura said.
Asteria took off when they began selling their jewelry at the Christmas at the Market fair at the Boyce Farmer’s Market on Nov. 14.
They sold 49 out of 81 pieces of jewelry in the two-day market and since their debut, they’ve received numerous compliments and orders for their products.
Their Instagram page, Doasteria, has attracted more than 100 followers since its launch on Nov. 15. The business is set to launch their official website on Nov. 29.
Paura and Lucchesi met Cordido during their first year at STU when they were living in Chatham Hall. Cordido was one of the residence advisors and they formed a close friendship. She thought it’d be a good idea to bring Latin culture to Canada and to use their different skillsets and passions to form the perfect team.
“We are three international women that came here for university that came with ideas and views of the future,” Paura said.
Cordido said the designs come from her aunt, other Venezuelan artists and they’re also creating their own designs.
The three women started planning their business in the summer. Cordido invests the most money because she has a full-time job as business development manager at Naveco Power while Paura and Lucchesi invest more of their time.
The women are excited to see where Asteria will take them and have plans to become a large business one day.
Lucchesi said they would like to reach a goal of 300 to 500 Instagram followers and start selling outside of Fredericton in a year.
“That would be a huge thing for us,” she said.
Cordido’s personal dream would be creating a fund where they can invest in women looking for jobs and teach them new skills.
She gave the example of immigrant women in Fredericton who come with their husbands and cannot practice their profession here.
“We just want to find a way that we can support women … Being more socially responsible, caring about the community that accepted us,” she said.
Cordido said it’s important to show how powerful women can be when they come together to pursue their dreams.
“A goal of ours is to empower other young women,” she said.
“Seeing the opportunity to become our own bosses sends a message.”