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. No wonder their motto is: See me – don’t just look at me.
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. Energy efficient production technologies are also used whenever possible to produce minimalist yet impactful pieces of jewellery.
The simple beauty of the universal symbol that’s at the centre of the SeeMe movement–the heart–speaks of warmth, caring and universal love. It has captured the attention of luminaries such as Italian Vogue editor Franca Sozzani and Karl Lagerfeld, who have all proudly worn the symbol atop their stylish outfits.
The range of rings, bracelets and pendants has also been sold at high end shops, including Colette in Paris, and a capsule collection was also sold at Karl Lagerfeld’s boutiques.
Caterina Occhio has chosen to produce a sustainable luxury jewellery brand via her social enterprise, as she thinks having disadvantaged women create high end luxury products allows them to gain a better income than they would if they’d made a cheaper product. Of course, the end result is a unique accessory that conscious consumers will love, too.
“It’s a win-win situation,” Occhio says with a smile.
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