I’ve been sitting on the post for a while, but wanted to finally get it out into the world. While traveling through Marrakesh earlier this Spring, my good friend Lisa and I made a stop to an incredible non-profit for women with disabilities, called Al Kawtar. Al Kawtar was founded in 2006 and has evolved into a full-service center that includes meals, transportation, physical rehab, technical training and medical support. The women are taught how to sew and embroider and are given an opportunity to be independent and earn a salary in a safe and dignified environment.
The visit was incredible – in that the women were extremely kind, supportive of each other and skilled at their craft. The head woman in charge walked us through the center and showed us how everything worked and what the products looked like from concept through production. She also ran us through the itemized pricing and how she managed the work flow and international orders.
It was obvious there was a lot of pride in the pieces that were being made. It’s also worth noting that everything was very unique and extremely commercial. I remember seeing a stack of handbags on one of the tables – where the body of the bag was a converted Moroccan pillow case with florescent embroidered clasps and embellishments. I wanted to buy one, but was told they were part of a big order for a boutique in Paris.
I discovered on the last leg of my trip through France that this specific collection went to Bensimon’s home shop. The mark up was expectedly significant, though in all honesty, the prices seemed fair and reasonable along the production food chain. It almost seemed expensive for wholesale pricing – which was refreshing to see the collective getting a fair rate for their handmade goods.
I ended up designing two bags on the fly, which surprisingly only took 24hrs to assemble. I was able to pick them up the next day before heading out and was elated with how they came out. In addition to these incredible clutches, there were embroidered friendship bracelets, pot holders, baby clothing, robes, tunics, blankets and napkins. Everything had a hint of French flair with beautifully embroidered accents. Here’s a video that shares a window into their world. If you can support Al Kawtar by visiting when you’re in Marrakesh or placing a custom order for your shop, definitely do it, you won’t be disappointed.