By Chere Di Boscio
The founders of SeeMe, Don’t Just Look at Me want you to really see a few things. They want you to see that millions of women around the world are marginalised, without an income of their own. They want you to see that these women are often living in insecure conditions which include domestic violence.
To help these women out of poverty and place them in a secure position both physically and financially, SeeMe and its associated Heart Movement were created by Caterina Occhio. She’s found some hefty partners supporting her enterprise, including the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
SeeMe was founded on the notions that charity is not enough–long-term poverty alleviation can only be achieved with long-term development; this can be done by providing skills and fairly waged employment to those who need it most.
Thus far, the project has provided support to over 1500 women and found employment to over 350 in both the slums of Tunisia and Turkey. Importantly, SeeMe involves employees, members and producers in its decision-making processes and ensures that relevant information is provided to all its trading partners.
The brand is also eco-friendly, ensuring all raw materials come from sustainably managed sources, and local resources and energy efficient production technologies are also used whenever possible to produce minimalist pieces of jewellery.
The simple beauty of the universal symbol that’s at the centre of the SeeMe movement–the heart–has captured the attention of luminaries such as Italian Vogue editor Franca Sozzani and Karl Lagerfeld. The range has also been sold at high end boutiques, including Colette in Paris, and a capsule collection was also sold at Karl Lagerfeld’s boutiques.
Occhio has chosen to produce a high-end range via her social enterprise, as she thinks having disadvantaged women create luxury products allows them to gain a better income than they would if they’d made a cheaper product, whilst providing a unique accessory to top end consumers.
“It’s a win-win situation,” she says firmly.
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