Foto / Photo Giordano Ciampini
With a ready smile and sparkling eyes, at age 46 Sandra Alan Seas can say she has made it on her own in spite of all the challenges life has presented. She is a successful fashion designer and business owner as well as a single mother of two, including a daughter with Down Syndrome.
In August, Sandra was honored as an exemplary businesswoman in the Samara community at a gala dinner held to raise funds for the upcoming health fair, and during the fashion show accompanying the dinner she featured 15 of her designs, including bathing suits, hindu-style fashions and casual wear. Although she has shown her designs in beauty pageants before, this was the first time in her 28 years of designing clothes that she presented a formal fashion show.
Born in Nicoya, Sandra moved to Samara 35 years ago with her family, including three sisters and one brother. Her father was an educator and her mother worked as a seamstress. As a child, Sandra learned the basics of sewing from her mother. "Come, to teach you how to sew," her mother would tell them, and Sandra would obey. She liked it but never thought she would dedicate her life to making clothes.
Sandra finished high school, got married and gave birth to a daughter, Jacksun. Her daughter was born premature with many complications, including Down Syndrome, a chromosomal abnormality associated with a delay in cognitive ability and physical growth. "It was a very big shock," Sandra recalled. It was a time when people tended to hide children with problems like Down Syndrome, when there was limited knowledge of how to help such children, but Sandra struggled on her daughter's behalf, taking her to endless appointments. She moved to Nicoya, where she built a small house and enrolled her daughter in a special school.
With one basic sewing machine, she began making clothes for friends, who encouraged her to create her own brand, which she did,and she began selling her fashions, not only in Nicoya but around the country.She set up a workshop with 10 industrial sewing machines and hired three operators. Business was booming, but home life was difficult.
Eventually, she divorced and moved back to Samara. "At 34, I started to discover myself, to find more strength." People helped her and she proved that as a woman she could make it alone. A German friend who believed in her and knew her to be hard-working offered to sell her property on the main street in the center of Samara, accepting a down-payment of $3000 and giving her one year to make arrangements for a bank loan. On this property, Sandra opened Shanna's Boutique, where she sells her fashions and other clothing. She also has a souvenir shop next to the boutique.
She decided to simplify her fashion business, downsizing to just five industrial machines and one assistant, and now she only sells her fashions locally, but thanks to tourism and a central location in Samara, she said she generates even more than before.
Her stores are open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., which means that she's often busy, but when she can she takes time to go to the beach to swim and to see the sunset. Ride her bicycle and spend time with her parents and grandparents, is her way to de-stress. And of course, she spends time with her two children. Her son, Kiban, is now 19 and her daughter, Jacksun is 26.Her daughter still needs a lot of care, and Sandra admits she is overprotective, but Jacksun has learned to do housework and take care of her own things and gives a lot of sincere affection.
Sandra related that she has survived crisis, and she has come out stronger. "People that knew me before don't believe that I've achieved so much," she said.