Alejandrina Salaverria Mejia was born in El Salvador, but grew up in Miami, where she and her family moved when she was seven years old. Mejia, who goes by Ali now, says her creative soul was nourished by a group of women in her family, who “encouraged me to chase my passions and dream big.”
Today, she’s the co-founder and chief creative officer of Eberjey, a line of lingerie and loungewear that she launched alongside her friend Mariela Rovito. The two believe that lingerie and loungewear should feel “comfortable and effortless.”
Their latest collection is rooted in Mejia’s birthplace– El Salvador– consisting of “romantic silhouettes, delicate scalloped laces, and rich botanical and animal prints” inspired by lush landscapes and tropical environment she left as a kid.
In this edition of “Made In,” Ali Mejia walks us through her Salvadoran heritage and how it influences her design endeavors today.
“At my core, I’m a creative soul with a passionate entrepreneurial spirit. From a young age, I loved design and brainstorming about products and always knew I wanted to do something that allowed me to be inventive in a multidimensional way.
I come from a family of strong, entrepreneurial and deeply creative women, who always encouraged me to chase my passions and dream big.
El Salvador is a beautiful but complicated place. When we left, I was too young to understand the politics behind the changes the country was undergoing. Growing up in the U.S., I inevitably lost touch with my roots and Salvadoran daily life and politics. It wasn’t until I wrote my college senior thesis on the politics of Salvadoran land reform that I started to make sense of El Salvador’s complex history, power struggles and fragile democracy. Today, I’m proud of my heritage and love to share with others all that El Salvador has to offer.
My mother and grandmother Emilia– both immensely elegant and stylish– enthralled me with their confident, feminine, youthful demeanors. They encouraged me to take care of my physical and emotional self with old school beauty and self-care rituals. They taught me about nourishing my skin and hair, about taking long, soothing baths to unwind and introduced me to savoring these little moments of self-care as acts of self-love.
Both my mother and grandmother also taught me what beauty is truly about; that it is less about the surface and more about inner radiance and actionable expression. Beauty emanates from within, shines from inner confidence, from resilience, from forgiveness, from how we treat others. These were the types of beauty messages I received.
In terms of style, they taught me to invest in great pieces, to always go for quality over quantity and to dress simply but thoughtfully. I do always remember my mom constantly reminding me when I was young to make an extra effort and dress up whenever I felt down. It definitely helped lift my mood and it’s something I still practice to this day.
For this [Eberjey] collection, I let myself get lost in the natural beauty and energy of El Salvador. Last year, on a trip to visit my family, I took advantage and started researching and gathering my thoughts about a possible collection. I photographed beautiful landscapes, beach and surf scenes and visited with artisans and coffee farmers to learn more about their processes. When I returned home, I started a mood board on Pinterest with all things El Salvador. The story started coming together naturally and effortlessly and, before I knew it, it had all poured out of me.
This line is full of rich colors and prints that tell a story of a vibrant Salvadoran lifestyle. The country’s stunning landscapes – its volcanoes, mountains, crater lakes, pacific coastal beaches– all factored into the collection, showing up in prints, in fabric details and trims. On a deeper level, this collection is about connecting to our roots, our family histories and what those connections mean to us as individuals and as a collective. For me, El Salvador is about connecting to nature, about family and community, about strength and resilience in the pursuit of my dreams and about a reconciliation of a rich, troubled history combined with a hope and optimism for the future.
Eberjey is a minority women-owned business, which is a rarity, especially in fashion. It’s my and my co-founder Mariela Rovito’s responsibility to take up space, advocate and create products that relate to our heritage. This collection is indicative of that; it was important for me to share more about my roots and culture with our customers.”