OSAY AND FRIENDS...
We have curated and collaborated on designs with ethical and socially-minded emerging brands, designers and artisans from the Mediterranean region of Tunisia, in an effort to promote cultural heritage, and preserve the craftsmanship and creative expression of artisans.
We are honored to share with you the products and the inspiring stories of their makers.
Lyoum is a Tunisian ready-to-wear clothing and accessories brand that was founded by former advertising executives and marketing consultants Claire and Sofiane Ben Chaabane in 2011 just after the Tunisian Revolution. At its core, the brand offers a Mediterranean style that mixes refined Parisian-chic with Tunisian and Middle Eastern details. By infusing designs and details from different countries, Claire and Sofiane have built a cross-cultural brand that reflects the intersectionality of the Mediterranean region.
"Our dream is to see our products worn everywhere, whether in Berlin, Sfax, Tokyo or Brooklyn. The basic idea was to create a Tunisian brand that can be exported. For that we thought of casual clothes, not too ethnic, but which carry in them something Mediterranean, easily decodable. They are sober and clean, fresh and bright, warm without being flash. This influence comes also from our Parisian lifestyle, where simplicity and quality are essential." - Claire and Sofiane Ben Chaabane, founders of Lyoum.
L’Odaïtès is a French pharmacy beauty brand created by three Paris-based Tunisian sisters who designed and created the brand from their childhood experiences based on traditional natural remedies and modern healthcare science. Inspired by the memories of their grandmother’s beauty secrets, Alya, Sofia, and Nabila learned the ancient methods of extracting essential oils from their garden plants in Tunisia. In 2014, after a series of health scares, Nabila, a former investment banker changed her lifestyle and convinced her two sisters, a pharmacist, and a chemist, to revive their family’s memories. Together they fused Mediterranean ingredients with modern day science and brought them to French labs to create a unique and luxurious brand l’Odaïtès. Infused with olive oil, dates, roses, geranium and aloe vera, L’Odaites products are a true sensorial journey through the Mediterranean.
"Our Grandmother taught us how to do everything. She introduced us to the art of self-care. She could spend hours pampering herself and would only leave the house looking impeccable. Her skin was exceptionally soft and bright. Every day, she had us participate in her skincare ritual, where she would apply homemade creams and ointments all over our faces and bodies. We had a large garden where we would pick and sort plants and flowers, according to the seasons. I was in charge of cooling the distilled water and even until today, my best memory is the soothing orange blossom she would give us at night to sleep."
- Nabila Chemillier El Hedda, CEO, and co-founder of L'Odaïtès.
BARAA is a Tunisian fashion designer who has been based in Nice, France for the past 15 years. Initially a furniture designer, she has had a love and talent for fashion design. Despite the similarities in lifestyle between France and Tunisia, she soon realized that the quality of hand-spun fabrics from Tunisia was superior and virtually unknown to the rest of the Mediterranean region. She established an atelier in the small coastal town of Kelibia in Tunisia and began to work closely with artisans, mostly women who specialized in fabrics. She spent years in souks across Tunisia, always on the lookout for the perfect linen thread, experimenting with blending different fabrics from wool to leather and linen. She started designing a limited number of dresses. Her pieces echo the Mediterranean lifestyle she loves so much, simple, refined, sensual, and effortless - all worn like a second skin.
"In my field, I am always searching for new ways of weaving and embroidery. I work closely with artisans all around the country. There is a real exchange, I learn so much about the history of each embroidery. We end up talking a lot about women's conditions. What makes me really proud is to see the women artisans we work with, blossoming and taking charge of their families destinies through steady work. And together we love seeing our pieces worn in other parts of the world. It motivates us to do more and better! - Baraa Ben Boubaker Gouillou, founder of BARAA.
SeeMe is a jewelry brand made in Tunisia founded by Caterina Occhio. Prior to becoming a jeweler (designer), Occhio spent decades reporting on violence against women in the Middle East for the United Nations and other international organizations. Her story from human rights to jewelry began one day when she was strolling in the Medina of Tunis. Inspired by the ancient city’s artisanal heritage, she decided to create timeless, universal jewelry that merged fashion and ethics. Her jewelry is based on the heart, a symbol of empathy that she now calls “The Heart Movement”. See Me only employs single mothers who are routinely ostracized by the community and too often are the survivors and victims of domestic violence. The See Me atelier and training center offers women a safe haven with dignity and respect. Women empowerment through a steady income is at the core of the brand’s mission. In the brand’s collaborations with world-renowned fashion houses such as Karl Lagerfeld, Missoni, Mulberry and more, See Me strives to ethically source their part of collections.
"The premise of SeeMe was to create a product that could potentially save the world in its own way, by looking good and creating wealth for all those involved. Looking at problems isn't enough, one needs to really see them. SeeMe, don't just look at me was the first slogan of the brand." - Caterina Occhio, founder of SeeMe.
VAKAY is a premium handcrafted wooden sunglass brand made in the southern industrial Tunisian city of Sfax. Its three founders Souleiman, Ghorbel, the designer, Majdi Ghorbel, the engineer and Adam Jabeur, the entrepreneur are childhood friends. In 2012, Adam who was a business student with a passion for fashion saw a picture of wooden sunglasses online. He fell in love with them and asked his designer friend Souleiman to make a pair for him. The two friends loved the process of designing and creating their first prototype so much that they decided to make more pairs to gift to friends and family. This is when Majdi Ghorbel, decided to join them in what seemed to be a crazy idea. It took them a year of consulting with opticians to come up with a product they felt ready to launch. This is how VAKAY was born. And for the first time, a designer oriented eyewear industry was finally "Made in Tunisia." VAKAY is the first eyewear brand in the country and with its unique ethnic craftsmanship is today considered the first premium handmade eyewear in Africa. This is why they have partnered with the foundation One Tree Planted to help reforestation in Kenya.
"Not only did we become trendsetters through the uniqueness of our product, but we were also able to initiate a whole new ecosystem in the eyewear industry, from luxurious and sustainable wood species, with all manufacturing processes being completed here in Tunisia". Each pair of VAKAY glasses requires hours of painstaking craftsmanship and we are constantly working to test new natural materials and create original designs keeping comfort and durability our top priority." - Adam Jabeur, CEO, co-founder of VAKAY. Eyewear