Having a strong conviction that refugees have the right to employment, education and empowerment. And that these are key instruments to reach confidence, determination and self-sufficiency. Roberta Ventura, the Italian Portoflio Manager is the Founder of SEP Jordan, a hand-embroidered accessories blend hallmarks of premium Middle-Eastern craftsmanship with high style.
And, Along with her Cousin, ANNAPAOLA DI PRISCO, who changed her career path from legal and finance to a Chartered Fashion Marketer and now the most passionate SEP Ambassador in London. Roberta is aiming with her customer, to empower less fortunate women who have the skills to create beautiful works of art, with professional, personal and economic stability.
1- SEP Creations are very unique and creative, but what is more appealing is the story behind each piece which is hand embroidered by a single talented woman.
Could you please tell us in brief the inspiring story of these artist women?
We work in Jerash camp, the so called “Gaza camp”, which has been established in 1967 and all the artists involved in SEP were born and raised there.
When we started, SEP team was a group of 20 artists, and now, closing our third year of operations, the number of artists involved every month is more than 500.
Our business is entirely based on embroidery: the most precious skill refugees in Jordan have managed to preserve over the decades. What makes our business unique, as you said, are the hours, days, months of hard work, the passion and the concentration required to produce perfect bespoke, unique embroideries.
Our motto is “Every stitch tells a story” because every single piece is hand made with love by the talented hands of one single woman.
Through the embroidery the artist expresses her mood, her hopes, her concerns.They tell us ; working with us is a therapeutic healing for them and it provides a great outlet for their stress and sadness.
Next time you see a SEP hand-embroidered item, try to feel the stitches with your fingers, and then look at each and every one of them. Chaos and order, all the emotions of the artists are there!
2-It is known that SEP does not have only one designer, but a creative team which includes lead artisans!
Could you share with us their source of inspiration ?
The relaxing, therapeutic effects of geometric art. From the ancient or contemporary Islamic art works to the perfect geometry of traditional embroidery patterns
3- You, as Founders of SEP. Originally come from Italy, with a financial background and a passion for style. Also, you have no Palestinian roots!
Could you Please describe the story behind launching this business with refugees? And the particular emotional connection you have with them?
My background is in finance and I have an obsession with refugee camps: I cannot come to terms with the concept of storing humans away and make them dependant on aid.
The fashion interest is very natural being Italian and having been exposed to Italian fashion exports via family friends since a young age. Fashion has the ability to build bridges between cultures and is the perfect tool to empower change-makers.
4- At SEP, you believe that promoting entrepreneurialism and responsible business is stronger form of empowerment than aid! Could you please explain further how you do it?
First of All, SEP was born out of a simple idea. It is to re-interpret centuries of old traditional embroidery with a modern key. Also, to offer a small contribution towards changing the world.
Three years since we started, we have achieved a lot and there is a huge amount still to do. Hence, we were proven right in one thing: something has changed, instantly.
Consequently, five hundreds women in a refugee camp no longer feel alone and forgotten. This makes them and their families happy and it makes our clients happy.
The concept at the basis of our company is how embroidery can be cool and high in style. We identified a trend of growing demand from consumer to purchase items ”with a story”. Consumers are more and more often wondering where their purchase comes from, who made it.
We studied the market niche we are addressing (high-end, craftsmanship based fashion and lifestyle accessories) and we started contacting buyers. The process is ongoing. All our items are creations we would use and wear and give as gifts ourselves.
5- Based on the following description, How do you relate to the Mayshad Woman Philosophy?
To Be a Mayshad Woman, is a Choice a Woman makes to live a stimulated life with a positive Philosophy based on Gratitude , Acceptance and Accomplishment, in order to Be Who She Wants to Be. She handles different Aspects of her Life with Confidence , and makes sure to always remain Herself, guarding her own values . She is a free spirit, who designs her own Life inspiring others to do the same.
We completely agree and share a really similar vision. SEP woman, as we love to say, is “beauty with a brain”. It is exactly as our clients and brand ambassadors. But most importantly, exactly as the artists who play their magic on SEP creations.
And, We want to bring the camp to the world and the world to the camp. Because ultimately we are all part of the same community.
So, What we share is mutual happiness. The clients buying a beautiful piece of art and the artist enabled to make her voice heard through the embroidery.
In Conclusion, we want SEP to be a source of inspiration and pride for the woman who is our client, and for the artists who are the soul of our company.