Caterina Occhio is what you might call a rare bird. As founder and CEO of SeeMe - the jewellery company that produces heart-shaped jewellery in safe working environments in disadvantaged areas to benefit the people making them – the work before her is endless. Yet her belief and gusto for her work never falters, and the way she continues to innovate the brand is also seriously impressive.
Having launched in Tunisia in 2013, SeeMe has since expanded to Lebanon, and Occhio's intent is that the jewellery is reflective of the region it was made.
"Every time that we go into a new country, we make sure that the heart represents the people there," she smiled. "We don’t want the Hilton effect, where you wake up in the morning and you don’t know where you are. Each heart needs to mean something to the country it is in… Every time the company expands, we keep the people at the centre."
She is also intent on the business stimulating sustainable skills.
"One of the very important things we based the heart on was financial stability, I don’t believe in charity," she said. "Don’t get me wrong, the work that is done in an emergency situation is very much needed, but what happens when the emergency is over? Who do you turn to? We teach them how to look after themselves. We are not looking for charity, we are looking for jobs and we want to support happy and meaningful shopping.
"The movement is growing because there’s a more conscientious consumer with a new generation of Millennials that, despite enjoying all the newness, care and want to know what’s going on," she continued, adding, "These customers don’t have much choice, because there’s not many things that are beautiful and meaningful at the same time."