Our hope for Sefte's first bed linens collection was to prove that simplicity, social accountability, and luxury were not mutually exclusive. We found the ideal location to showcase this simple luxury in Siwa, Egypt.
The Siwa Oasis is one of the five largest oases in the desert, located seventy kilometers from the Libyan border, far from mass tourism. It took us 11 hours by car to get there from Cairo. The inhabitants speak a dialect of their own, Siwie. It is a land of legends and magic. A timeless place where traditions and ancient gestures are still alive, the town living in perfect harmony with its surrounding. Each traditional dwelling is a testament in itself to simplicity, imperfection and beauty blending exquisitely. These dwellings are created out of kershef; a mixture of beautiful red earth, stone and salt water..
With the women of Siwa and the guidance of Laila Neamatalla of Siwa Creations, we birthed our initial collection of hand-embroidered bed linens. Together, we began reviving the lost art of sewing and intricate embroidery in northwest Egypt. The women we worked with were able to earn more than twice the average Siwan agricultural wage earned by men by skillfully wielding a needle.
Outside the home Siwan women are totally covered, from head to toe, and have no contact with the outside world. But their symbolic stitches, which we honored in the designs on our bed linens, gave them a creative form of expression. We'd proven that luxury, simplicity, imperfection and social accountability could co-exist and our customers could feel the soul in each intricately embroidered piece.