ARE YOU A CHARITY?
SEP is a business and not a charity. We are a fashion business with a social impact focus. We believe that promoting entrepreneurship and responsible business is a stronger form of empowerment than aid. Our artisans receive fair and competitive wages for their work, often for the first time in their lives. We have the privileged opportunity to create sustainable paths to economic independence for hundreds of women. Our business model is shared transparently with the artisans, and we re-invest our profits in the camp and to grow our business.
WHO DOES THE MONEY GO TO?
Profits, after the business costs (such as staff, production, training, customs, red tape) are covered, are reallocated to the camp development. We organize social impact activities such as English, Yoga or Health awareness classes. SEP have established an artisans loan facility program, which relies on profit generation. At time of writing, the SEP artists are Palestinian refugees in Jerash, Jordan - who live in a tightly knit community, traditionally with little access to independent incomes. They continue the time-honored cross-stitch technique that has been passed down from generation to generation, passionately making the unique pieces that compose the SEP range.
WHO IS YOUR DESIGNER?
SEP creative team includes lead artists who contribute to the color, design and pattern decisions; the lead of the time is an all-Italian team in Geneva and London. We’re naturally inspired by Islamic and Moorish art (such as the Alhambra Palace in Spain), trends in fashion and the materials lovingly sourced by SEP’s founder and her team.
ARE THERE IMPERFECTIONS?
Each piece is hand embroidered by a single skilled artist, who can quickly point out her own work by the stitch. Not one item is exactly the same, and this model of craftsmanship contributes to the uniqueness of SEP in both its operations and product design approach. Our ability to maintain quality control is paramount nonetheless, so our business model focuses on maintaining the best standards in all of our work.
WHY DOES IT TAKE SO LONG TO DELIVER A BESPOKE PRODUCT?
Production takes time: embroidery requires full concentration and is hard on the artists' hands and eyes; because we use the highest quality materials and dedicate extreme attention to quality control, the process can be particularly time intensive. Each handcrafted item requires weeks of work. The SEP artists may only stitch for limited hours each day in order to maintain the quality required for such fine, detailed embroidery.
DO YOU WORRY ABOUT THE REGION’S INSTABILITY?
The SEP artists live in a refugee camp in Jordan, providing the safest possible environment while they wait to return. We are looking to expand outside the camp and beyond to other camps in the Middle East, and are now also considering options for Western Europe. SEP’s ability to harness the skills of displaced persons with the view to their engagement in our commercial structure is central to what makes us stand apart.
WHERE DO YOU SELL YOUR PRODUCTS?
SEP accessories are now sold in luxury department stores and boutiques across the Middle East and Europe. We receive online orders for our collections and special requests for bespoke pieces internationally. From London to Dubai, SEP is crossing cultures because customers and artisans share the same passion for products that express joy in their individuality.