Art of embroidery. Ethical brand SEP creates precious hand-embroidered lifestyle accessories which blend hallmarks of Middle-Eastern craftsmanship with Italian style. Every stitch tells a story..

Where: Jordan (production) and Switzerland (distribution)

Since when: 2014

The target: The over 350 SEP Artists are mainly Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Jordan. Our mission is to bring thousands of refugees above the poverty line.

The Problem

The 25.4m refugees worldwide face structural challenges when their emergency displacement becomes “status-quo” over the years: dependence on aid, clinical depression and various forms of social tensions are the norm. The private sector historically ignored this pool of talent, assuming the humanitarian sector could solve all of the above issues.
We created SEP in 2014 to address the lack of self-confidence and to bring back the pride that comes when one’s work is appreciated worldwide and when the value of one’s heritage and roots is appreciate

The Solution

SEP Jordan is a high-end brand which focuses on employment and heritage preservation. At the SEP-Tamari Academy in Jerash camp, we develop the existing skills of hand-embroidery and crochet, bringing the quality standards back to the peak age of Palestinian cross-stitch, the 1800’s. As Academy Award Winner costume designer Jacqueline Durran said, with reference to the Mary Magdalene movie’s costumes, all embroidered by SEP: “It was an incredibly rewarding experience working with the team of artisans at SEP - their talent far surpassed my expectations. We sent designs and threads to Jordan and what came back were these amazing hand stitched embroideries that had an incredible subtlety and beauty; the result of each woman’s unique creativity and skill. The work had a quality that we couldn’t have found anywhere else and it became a key part of our creation of the ancient world of the film”.
The SEP procurement, design, production model provides the SEP creations access to the international markets and is replicable.

Our Product

SEP hand-embroidered accessories blend hallmarks of premium Middle-Eastern craftsmanship with Italian style. SEP creations are one-of-a-kind ethical fashion accessories, distinguished by their intricate embroidery, geometric patterns and sophisticated style. Every stitch tells a story: Each piece is embroidered by a single talented artist. Women who happen to be refugees, who continue the time-honoured, cross-stitch technique that has been passed down from generation to generation. Our promise: mutual happiness.
Embroidery is akin to therapy, in that when one’s mind is occupied counting crosses, it is detached from everyday challenges. The SEP artists say that they pour their emotions and stories into their work and in their choice of colors and patterns. When the idea was first discussed with the initial group of ladies at the camp, the feedback sounded like: “nobody likes our work, we have stockrooms full of work that nobody wants to buy”; with a lot of teamwork on colors, materials, styles, we have managed to prove the ladies wrong: the most sophisticated consumer worldwide appreciates, loves and yearns to own a SEP creation. The beautiful embroidered creations which have left Jerash camp in the last 4 years, have landed in all continents.
SEP best-seller is the hand-embroidered keffiyeh, available in many styles, most of which are unisex. The SEP cashmeres shawls are Made in Italy by one of Brunello Cucinelli’s suppliers and then embroidered in Jerash camp; the home linens have attracted the attention of prestigious press such as Vogue, Elle, Harpers’ Bazaar, AD, Homes&Interiors as well as the Harrods Homes & Properties magazine.

Our impact on the lives of refugees

SEP Jordan pay a multiple of minimum wage to employees and a 30-50% premium to market rats to the embroidery artists. Loyalty and pride to be part of the SEP family is a key success factor. The best performing SEP team members also get a cash bonus at the end of each year. At the SEP-Tamari Academy we offer free training to artists and regularly organse Social Impact activities such as art, English, self-defence, coding, nutrition classes.
87% of women who had been diagnosed with clinical depression, say their symptoms have improved or disappeared since they started working with SEP. Many artists have been able to repay existing debts, improve the condition of their shelter and or support their children education with after school help. Over 160 prescription glasses have been provided to make sure working is a pleasure. Most artists work from home and only come to the SEP workshop for quality control: flexibility is another one of our strengths.

Our Team

Roberta Ventura, CEO

MAHMOUD AL HAJ, Country Manager Jordan


NAWAL ARADEH, Jerash Camp, Operations Manager

ASMA ARADEH, Jerash Camp, Quality Control Officer

WASEEM SALAMEH, Jerash Camp UNHCR Project Liaison Officer

Our Results

We started as a project with 20 embroidery artists in 2014 and today we are a brand and we work with over 350 artists in Jerash camp, Jordan. We have successfully integrated a number of Syrian refugee artists settled in the vicinity of Jerash camp and we are starting to be a point of call also for Jordanian citizens looking for opportunities. We reckon we could work with 1,000 artists in Jerash camp alone by the end of 2019, if demand for our creations remains strong.
Long-term partnerships have been signed with UNHCR, AWEF and DFID, The Tamari Foundation, Landmark Hotel Amman among others. Each of these partnership varies in nature and all are focused on improving the lives of those forced to flee their homes.
In the last 12 months, we embroidered all the costumes for the Hollywood production of Mary Magdalene in Jerash camp and our home collection has found a home on the Harrods’ shelves in London
In December 2018, SEP Jordan opened its first boutique in Geneva, hopefully the first of many.
Brand Ambassadors: Roger Waters, the singer of the Pink Floyd, supermodels and entrepreneurs Bianca Balti and Elisa Sednaoui, author Chaker Khazaal, fashionista Miroslava Duma are some of the more well-known SEP customers who proudly share the SEP story worldwide.

Our future goals, thanks to your donations

We dream to see thousands of refugees living with dignity in the country that hosts them, while they wait to go back home. We do not believe being displaced should imply living below the poverty line. We will invest the funds raised to develop SEP’s product design, procurement, distribution functions as well as to intensify social impact activities in Jerash camp and in performance related bonuses for the best artists.
The more SEP creations we sell, the more artists who are refugees and their families will benefit. It is of paramount importance to develop a strong structure and a global brand, to ensure sustainable employment and impact in Jerash camp and elsewhere. Over time, SEP plan to expand operations and replicate its model in other refugee camps in Jordan as well as in the region.

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