Some Christmas Cheer!

For the month of December, we’re trying something new: product giveaways!

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Each Friday in December, we’ll be promoting one of the artisans’ products on our Facebook page. All you have to do is follow the directions (like, share, tag someone, etc.) and you’re automatically entered to win the featured product! We’ll announce the winner each Monday. And that’s it!

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A Day in Tameslouht with Anjali Power Yoga

This past week, we were visited by a group hailing from Philadelphia, PA and Charlotte, NC. The common thread between these two cities? Anjali Power Yoga Studios!

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Returned Peace Corps volunteer Lucia coordinated a week-long yoga retreat for practitioners from these studios in Marrakech, Morocco. In addition to planning what sounded to me like the most fabulous crash-course in all of the fabulous things that Marrakech has to offer, Lucia also highlighted some of the most authentic things, as well. This included teaching everyone survival Darija, discussing customs and traditions, making sure to taste all of the local fare, and, most importantly (in our opinion!), visiting the town of Tameslouht.

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Our morning involved meeting at the most popular cafe in town, ordering a round of nss-nss coffees, and engaging in a discussion about Tameslouht. The retreatants had many questions about the economic life of Tameslouht, the women artisans, and the religious aspect of Tameslouht and its zaouia, or ancient Sufi religious school.

We walked through the town, stopping spontaneously at the olive oil processing center. Tameslouht is famous in the region for its aromatic and absolutely delicious olive oil. We watched the olives get mashed and pressed, all while smelling the beauty of the distinctive oil.

Afterwards, we arrived to Abdelilah’s house, where two of Maslouhi’s women artisans, Meriam and Rabiaa, awaited us.

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The retreatants learned the art of basket embellishment, a popular craft that has ignited the tourist markets in recent years. Although no one got anywhere near close finishing their baskets in the time allotted, everyone went home with new knowledge of a craft that they were seeing everywhere in the souk.

We enjoyed a massive and delicious lunch in the zaouia, and then went on a tour of some of the different properties of the religious complex.

The last part of our day in Tamesouht involved a visit to some of Maslouhi’s other artisans: our weavers! We had the pleasure of catching Si Hassan, who is one of Tameslouht’s “m3allam,” or master weavers. Two of the brave retreatants even tried their hand at the loom!

We at Maslouhi genuinely enjoyed our time getting to know Anjali Power Yoga Studio’s retreatants. We hope that you all enjoyed your time in Morocco, and in Tameslouht especially!

If you have a group coming through Marrakech and would like to visit the artisans of Maslouhi, engage in a workshop, eat a traditional lunch in a beautiful, ancient religious school, and see what life is like in a rural village, let us know! creation.tameslouht@gmail.com

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A Little Northern Detour

Last weekend, we traveled to the gorgeous coastal city of Assilah. Suffice it to say, I’m in love.

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One of the loveliest surprises of this blue and white haven is its small but robust artisan community. Mustapha and I met, talked to, shook hands, and exchanged business cards with several extremely talented artisans. We are so excited about the new products that we’re offering in the Maslouhi shop:

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We arrived in the old medina at 8am– several hours before any of the artisans opened up their shops. The first stall that we saw, we ended up spending over an hour in. Anwar, a young man with an impeccable eye for color, was generous with his time. He showed us his loom, a variety of blankets and scarves, and answered a ridiculous amount of questions from the two starry-eyed foreigners. We have two designs currently for sale on Etsy and are also taking wholesale orders.

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We cannot get enough of these gorgeous baskets! Woven with two colors of yarn and held in place by a sheet of a plastic rice sack, the materials are traditional but boast a modern style. The colors radiate the northern charm of Morocco– inherently colorful and bold. We are currently accepting wholesale orders for these beauts.

Vintage rugs and wedding blankets

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Everyone is always looking for a “rug guy,” someone who has the right connections and will sell you coveted Moroccan rugs for a decent price. We’d pretty much given up on Marrakech, to be honest– with such a high concentration of tourists willing to pay inflated prices, there’s really no incentive to build a relationship with a business and offer reduced prices. Additionally, these middle men often completely stiff the rug weavers themselves. Not the case in Assilah. Mustapha and I had to ask several times to make sure that the price quotes that they were giving us were in dirhams, they were so low. We didn’t leave with any carpets in-tow, but do officially now have a “rug guy”– so let us know if you are looking for a tufted wedding blanket or kilim rug!


Our trip was unintentionally successful. We met a lot of wonderful artisans, experienced the not so famous (but incredibly warm) northern hospitality, and have a lot of new products to offer our customers. Shoot us an email if you see something you like or have any questions about ordering: creation.tameslouht@gmail.com!

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Hello, Etsy!

If you couldn’t tell, I (Sarah) am on winter break– and Maslouhi is getting some serious social media presence as a result.

In addition to Instagram and Pinterest accounts, we now have an Etsy— making it now easier than ever to buy from the artisans of Tameslouht! We’ve included woven blankets, market baskets (embellished + sequined), woven scarves, and handira blankets.

We’re trying to expand our audience and find new markets. We’re still available for wholesale orders, but we’re also trying to market our products to individuals who are into fair trade, supporting artisans worldwide, and fabulous fashion.

Browse our Etsy and let us know what you think! Would you like to see different products? Different colors? More options? We’re always open: creation.tameslouht@gmail.com

Maslouhi

Our name has officially been changed to “Maslouhi” (thanks, Facebook!)

This change comes after almost two years of working together under the name Creation Tameslouht. We still represent the artisans who you know and love, but now also encompass several new faces and talents. “Maslouhi,” which means “from Tameslouht” or “of Tameslouht,” seems like the perfect name to go forward with in representing the best of the handicraft traditions from Tameslouht.

We look forward to working with you all! You can still reach us at creation.tameslouht.com.10155112_1595183187288723_3870828842995505967_n

Suspending a Cooperative From Anou’s Online Store

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This month we decided to suspend the account of one of the most well-known cooperatives in Morocco. While the decision was difficult to make, particularly during the holiday rush, it was necessary because we believe that transparency is a cornerstone of Anou’s community.

As we’ve written about manytimes before, access to little resources coupled with illiteracy and low-education levels all contribute to the challenging and opaque environments in which artisans frequently work. As a result, many artisans have little awareness of what happens within their own artisans groups, associations or cooperatives. Even when artisans have the awareness to see something wrong, they’re often too afraid to expose the issue so it can be resolved. This makes it frighteningly easy for artisans to be taken advantage of by anyone, including members of their own cooperative.

Sadly, the this  was occurring in the cooperative we suspended. We had long suspected that…

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One of the things we’ve learned + what we’re doing about it

As many of our readers know, the whole online presence of Creation Tameslouht is something that started as a coincidence, a matter of many people being in the right place at the right time. The exciting part of this fateful intersection is, well, everything that has happened since that meeting–  especially the many successes and wonderful relationships that we’ve made. The unfortunate part is that, since we’re learning as we go, we often make a lot of mistakes…or should I say, confront many learning opportunities.

One of the greatest things we’ve learned so far is the double-edged sword that is accessibility. We realize that our online presence expands the reach of the artisans’ story– definitely a positive thing– but at the same time, this omnipresence can flatten these dynamic human beings into caricatures or archetypes. I suppose that is inevitable in any situation where you’re only getting information about one aspect of a person’s livelihood, but I also don’t want us to perpetuate this, consciously or otherwise.

Creation Tameslouht isn’t just about women. We get many, many emails from well-intentioned people wanting to work with women and wanting to empower women. We want to empower women as well! It’s important to know, therefore, what sorts of handicrafts that the women from Tameslouht make: embroidery, baskets, clutches, and jewelry. Even these crafts, however, involve a lot of work from male artisans. Our male artisans weave the baskets, dye the wool, and cut the leather made for the handles (just a few examples of their contributions). The reason that we even began to branch out to work with male artisans is because I got to know more and more about the process and realized that no artisan is an island. They all work together! This keeps the economy of Tameslouht functioning for both men and women.

In an effort to give people a better idea of who their products are coming from, we’re going to try something new. We’re going to profile an artisan every month. This way, you can get to know them beyond being a “male” or “female” artisan in Tameslouht– you’ll get to know them as a person. You’ll also get to see a range of the products that he or she makes. We think this will be a great way to build our image as Creation Tameslouht.

If you have any ideas or thoughts on this, please let us know! creation.tameslouht@gmail.com

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