Showcasing the work of Roberta Ventura, CEO and founder of Social Enterprise Project.
Words By Emily Martin
Who Roberta Ventura, is founder and CEO of Social Enterprise Project, more commonly referred to as SEP, which she set up in 2014. She describes herself as a social entrepreneur and manages SEP along with her husband Stefano: a lifestyle brand producing high-end embroidered fashion and home accessories, designed to bring thousands of refugees above the poverty line. Ventura says: ‘We are a B Corp and we are active in the Jerash refugee camp in Jordan, where we embroider by hand the most amazing Italian linen, cashmere and Jordanian keffiyeh.’ Starting out with embroidered keffiyeh (an Arabian scarf worn traditionally by men) and jute tote bags, the enterprise expanded its range to include interior goods like cushion covers.
Why As a student in Italy her thesis brought Ventura to Beirut, where she analysed the governmentprivate sector relations in the reconstruction of Beirut after the Lebanese civil war. She visited the Ayn al-Hilwa refugee camp, which she says was life changing: ‘It was 1997 and, since then, I have been obsessed with the conundrum facing refugees, who for the most part seem condemned to live off donations and to be deprived of their dignity for generations. What then followed was a 20-year career in investment banking, when I became familiar with many sectors, [including] luxury. SEP is a project rooted in all my previous experiences and driven by mine and my husband’s conviction that business can be used as a force for good.’ The duo has now opened SEP stores in Amman, Berlin, Geneva and Milan as well as worked on collaborations including with Ritz-Carlton Amman Hotel. SEP is set to launch new Home Linens Collection, which is made in Italy and hand-embroidered in Jordan.
Linen gauze tablecloth:
These beautiful stone-washed linen tablecloths take several months of work to finesse and expertly handembroider and are a real show-stopper when out on display.
Cushion cover range:
Ventura says: ‘Our cushion covers are inspired by Islamic Geometry and are chic and extremely soft to the touch: a show-stopper and conversation piece amongst house guests.’
Cumin and Myrhh Stories candles:
In partnership with Integra Fragrances, the SEP range now includes candles, which captivate the scents and spices that fill the air of the Jerash Camp in Jordan, which surround the SEP artists.