Meet Your Makers

 

Where did we begin?

The AZTA concept began taking root in the village of Tighdouine years ago with the creation of the Yagur Women’s Cooperative.  Founded in 1999, the cooperative has since brought employment, empowerment, and economic development to its members.  AZTA was created out of five core principles, that have been at the center of the work the women have done for the past two decades: sustainability, authenticity, empowerment, handcrafted artisanship, and collaboration.

As a developing social enterprise, AZTA aims to expand the reach of the cooperative beyond the village and collaborate to create innovative pieces that appeal to the modern conscious consumer while staying rooted in the practice, legacy, and celebration of culture embodied by the traditional craft.  AZTA was brought into being through the collaboration of the women artisans we work with and our global team.  AZTA means “woven” in Tashlheet and we are here to not only provide ethical consumers with high quality unique products but to tell the story of their origins.

As a developing social enterprise, we focus on collaborating with women artisans in rural Morocco, Moroccan designers, and local suppliers to create high quality, sustainable and culturally relevant products.  We believe that collaboration is key to elevating our communities and moving forward together. 

Who made my accessories?

So, it's Fashion Revolution Week and we’re all wondering, #WhoMadeMyClothes?  Let us introduce you to our team:

Fatima is a 44-year-old mother of three and the founder of the Yagur Women’s Cooperative.  She began working in weaving and sewing in Ouarzazate prior to her move to Tighdouine, and after taking time to care for her children, wanted to find a way to improve her life and the lives of those around her, bringing this beautiful craft to the village for the first time. 

As a veteran of the art, Fatima is most proud of passing her skills on to women who are newer to the trade.  Seeing her idea to create a space founded in the principles of sustainability, authenticity, empowerment and collaboration that celebrates this unique handicraft become reality is something that continues to bring her happiness, pride, and motivation.

As an AZTA artisan, Fatima is excited about new and innovative ways to incorporate her traditional craft with modern concepts.  Through the entire AZTA process – from design to retail – it is essential that our artisans are involved.  They, after all, are the heart of AZTA and their creativity, skills, and eagerness to share their story are our pulse.

Zahra also hails originally from Ouarzazate, where she began learning her craft at the age of 14.  Now, two decades later, she finds herself in Tighdouine with her three daughters as a key member of the cooperative.  She, along with Fatima, has taken the role of mentor to some of the younger members and enjoys teaching them everything she knows.  Her specialty lies in sewing, embroidery, and weaving, and as an AZTA artisan, she has recently taken up the opportunity to work with leather.

This journey is a learning process, and Zahra is not only eager to learn and share her skills, but to come up with new and unique ideas and solutions.  Her favorite part of working with AZTA is the opportunity to blend new ideas with her original skills.  As a well-seasoned artist, she, like Fatima, is excited to see their craft being celebrated in new and different ways.

Souad comes to Tighdouine with an interesting story.  Originally working as an architect (where she met the love of her life, her husband) she is proud of her sacrifice to focus on raising her children and pick up a new trade.  She specializes in “kulshi” – a self-professed expert in a bit of everything, and we certainly agree.

She views AZTA as a creative outlet for new ideas and the opportunity to express herself in interesting ways is what she enjoys most of being one of our artisans.  The oldest of the group at 54, Souad is a woman young at heart, still madly in love, and is an inspiration those she meets.

Hanan is our resident expert of intricate weaving and small, complicated pieces.  She is a 34-year-old mother of three and spends the time she’s not taking care of her children at the cooperative, teaching the girls in the hope of growing their craft and raising their potential. 

She takes great pride in her work and the most exciting component of working with AZTA is the idea that her work will be shared.  As an artist, Hanan loves to see people appreciating her work and the love, attention, and care that went in to creating each piece.  She does what she loves and she is excited to share it with us.

What advice do you have to give?

Our mission of sustainability, authenticity, empowerment and collaboration for handcrafted pieces would not be possible without the inspiration of these women.  Not only do they astound us each day with their craft; they make our community brighter with their wisdom, kindness, and openness.  We’ve learned to take advice from them and want to share it with you too.

Fatima: Work hard, focus on your life not on others, and everything will be as it should for you.

Zahra: Want the best for everyone.  Don’t be jealous; instead, focus on celebrating the skills and talents of those around you to life each other up.

Souad: Love yourself, the good AND the bad, and in this way you will be able to love and understand the other.

HananWork hard to get what you want.  Always do your best.

Fatima, Zahra, Souad and Hanan are just a few of the women who make Tighdouine wonderful, and are the core threads of the fabric of our AZTA community.  We are so grateful for each moment we have to spend with these inspiring, strong, creative women.  AZTA is about connection: connecting consumers with producers, connecting products with stories, connecting our values with our habits.  We hope you’ll join us.

 

 
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Kelsey Holmes