L’Artisanat du Maroc

By Sarah

Trike Tour

My favorite thing to do in Rabat is to take pack my daughter and her trike in the car and head towards the medina. In May and June the weather is nice, perhaps a bit too hot at midday, but the crowds are thin. As my girl peddles her trike I take in the visual delight of artisan shops. If we visit during lunch when some of the shops are closed I can admire the painted doors. Sometimes we cross the street to the kasbah Oudaya for more fun exploring the gardens and a cup of tea for mom and cookies for the girl.

Artisanat du Maroc

On one such trip, I stopped by the Maison du Artisan. Just outside the medina across from the Bou Regreg waterfront, I had been admiring this building from the outside and wondering what could be held inside. An artisan co-op? Business assistance? We wandered into a vacant courtyard with a central fountain.


We wandered up the stairs, Mom carried the trike, and a femme de menage immediately smiled a she noticed my girl, gently pinched her little cheek, and then kissed her own finger tips. This endearing gesture is common occurrence when traveling in Morocco with small children.

I explained using my poor French that I was researching export opportunities. I was shown into a woman’s office who explained to me in perfect English (lucky for us both) that she is working to help standardize the artisan sector and that one of her colleagues works on export opportunities. She gave me a lovely hardcover English-language book promoting Moroccan handicrafts, specifically carpets, weaving, pottery, leather, metal, wood, candles, jewelry, furniture, clothing, architecture, and organic products.

Her colleague took me into another office where I explained I was conducting research on export opportunities. But without a specific product and investment amount in mind, I could gather little information on pricing or suppliers. The first woman had explained that the website has a catalog of artisan contacts, but the website was broken when I visited. It ends up that the web address www.maisonartisana.org.ma which is printed on the back of the book is out-dated. The new address is www.lartisanatdumaroc.ma.

There was an exchange of business cards, but no further contact. I got the sense that most of the assistance is being supplied to artisan in-country as part of the Vision 2015 objectives, which include standardizing the artisan sector and getting more artisans to participate at trade shows and the like. I imagine there will be much improvement in the artisan sector within the next seven years.

If I do get around to importing Moroccan artisan products into the United States, I imagine I will do so by the container full instead of by working with individual suppliers. That said, if you are a Moroccan artisan seeking export opportunities to US markets, please contact me at sarah at moroccandesign.com.

10 Responses to “L’Artisanat du Maroc”

  1. Rais Ahmad Says:

    Cher Monsieur,

    Nous sommes fabricant, fournisseur, distributeur, grossiste et magasin en ligne de l’artisanat indien. Si vous souhaitez consulter nos produits, s’il vous plaît visitez notre site Web et http://www.handicraftgiftstore.com Racontez-nous votre intérêt.


    Rais Ahmad
    Rose Crafts
    Faiz Gunj Orient
    Opp. Ghair Wali Masjid,
    U.P. Inde
    Fax: 0091591-2473447

  2. el boustani chakib Says:

    we are producer of artistic porcelain in morocco. we operate in deco, souvenirs, table and cook ware.

  3. Sabni Mohamed Says:


    Have a Home Decor business in South Africa and is interested in your products. Will it be possible for you to e-mail us your catalogue.
    Kind regards

  4. MoroccanDesign.com Says:

    I don’t sell any products.

  5. barbara Says:

    i love site!

  6. MoroccanDesign.com Says:

    Thank you!

  7. Hakim Amakkas Says:

    BONJOUR, nous sommes une entreprise marocaine de tout produits de cuir,,et svp avec tout mes salutations a vous visitez nous sur le site et merci davonce…AMAKKS CUIR.SARL.

  8. Mr Robin Says:

    => http//artisanatdesign.com
    ANG: Artisanat Design is an e.business, a wholesaler for smart and luxurious articles of design.
    FR: Artisanat Design est un e.business, un grossiste d’articles design luxe & haut de gamme

  9. Universwood Says:

    Cher Monsieur,

    Nous sommes une Entreprise de menuiserie arabo-andalous située à Fès, MAROC: Réalisation de menuiserie traditionnelle et designe. (intérieur et extérieur) d’agencement et de mobilier sculpté ou peint sur mesures Nous vous invitons de visiter notre site web
    pour savoir plus sur notre activités ; n’hésiter pas de nous contacter si vous voulez savoir plus sur notre activités

  10. Washma Bensaid Says:

    Washma Bensaid, a showroom on the “Rue des Consuls” in Rabat, Morocco’s capital city, has produced handicraft garments for three generations. Over the years, the company has established a solid reputation with its many custom designs for Moroccan families, tourists from around the world.

    Aicha Bensaid recently imported these traditional clothing styles to the U.S. from her native country Morocco. The tunics, dresses, and other outfits are cosmopolitan with a modern flair, still retaining traditional Moroccan touches.

    I grew up seeing my parents run the clothing factory and business, and then moved to Virginia from Rabat in 2000. That same year, I have been married and received a visa to come to the U.S., after I saw my mother passing away from a long battle with cancer.
    My sister, Hanna Bensaid, “a gifted designer, wanted to follow my mother’s footsteps and graduated with a diploma in fashion design from ESMOD- Paris,” Aicha said. “She then took over the family business when our mom, Hafida became too ill to keep up with management and design.” A few years later, I decided to launch a retail business in the U.S. under the name Fantasia Trading, which was the original name. “Before my mom passed away, she wanted us to inherit the family business because she knew we would take good care of it and that it mattered to us. So that is why we are doing this now,” Aicha said.

    “I grew up seeing my parents working as hard as they could, building the business to make it more fruitful,” Aicha said. Washma Bensaid, and now Fantasia Trading, has been marketed within Morocco and in such nearby countries as France and Spain. “We saw in the American market a possible opportunity especially that people really liked our products, and we simply decided to expand.”
    The clothing is soft, wearable, and unique. All decorations (kitan) and finishing touches are done by hand, including the trademark embroidered rows of buttons (akaad) with threaded loops that are particular to Moroccan clothing. Kitan or sfifa are uniquely Moroccan designs, often curlicue, embroidered on sleeve cuffs and fronts of tunics, caftans, and dresses. Akaad vary in sizes, and are used as rows of fasteners at the neck.

    My parents started their clothing business in Rabat’s old city, the medina, with a factory and storefront, selling gandouras and other traditional Moroccan clothing. The business expanded quickly, and then moved to another location, a villa in the center of town. My older brother Malik Bensaid, who is initially an Architect who graduated from a prominent school in Paris, joined first my parents, Hafida and M‘hammed, and everyone worked long hours for so many years.

    The akaad buttons are beautiful examples of how my family has adapted the business to the 21st century. “With just two buttons on top, rather than a row of 20 or more, there is greater ease in wear and they can be fastened more quickly,” Aicha said. “We make Moroccan clothing easier to wear now. The original style was to keep tunics and djellabas closed at the top, but nowadays there is the option to wear it open as well.”

    I have to say that recent changes in the family business include a slight acknowledgement of European and American styles but always keeping with the Moroccan touch made by Hanna.
    “My sister Hanna brought this modern touch to the original garments,” Aicha said. “This is what makes all the clothing more appealing and contemporary.”
    Hanna Bensaid, who lives in Rabat, said, “I took this skill from my talented mother, and I was able to create new designs of unique exotic clothing, which is why I started to make clothes that were more casual, yet elegant and could be worn every day. I soon took over the business with my sister’s help and have been creating newer, more unique styles of Moroccan clothing ever since.

    Client Meredith Billman Mani said the clothing “has been great for me. We often travel to India and her clothes are a perfect fusion of fashion and modesty. Additionally, they are sophisticated and the designs unique. No matter where you go in the world, people will ask what you are wearing and where you got it.”

    The tunics come in different lengths and sleeve options. Meredith loves “everything” about Bensaid’s clothing line. “Maybe that’s it; everything just works with these clothes. They are unbelievably comfortable, elegant, sophisticated and fashionable. One of the reasons more people, from stores to customers, are starting to take notice of her clothing is that the designs are so cosmopolitan. “Washington, D.C. is a unique blend of cultures and you never know when you’re going to a function and what will be appropriate. These designs allow you to fit in anywhere, seamlessly, whether you’re at an embassy or at a cocktail party. You can be confident in our clothes knowing that they look nice, no one else will be wearing the same thing and that you are ready to talk to a CEO or chat on the couch over coffee. There’s great versatility in the designs.”

    Another enthusiastic client, Ieshia Ali, said, “I first fell in love with the very fine design details and the fabric choice is perfect. Three years later, numerous machine washes and dryings my caftan is still just as black and soft, and every tiny hand-stitched button remains in place. I may venture to say the garment is even softer now, amazing!
    Ali, a yoga instructor, said “I find it just as comfortable to teach a high-octane yoga class in Fantasia pants and tops as I do in Lulu Lemon or Lucy; plus I am stylish and ready for a meeting or dinner with friends straight away in my Boho Moroccan style.”

    Fantasia also sells Moroccan style cashmere winter coats with a hood and stitched buttons.
    “I highly recommend these fine, reasonably priced fantastic quality clothing. No regrets, just quiet consistent amazement with the endurance and beauty of Fantasia.”
    Annalisa Assaadi of McLean, Virginia visited the store, Washma Bensaid, in Rabat’s in the Souk of the old city. “It’s obvious the family takes great pride and care in each piece, in each design.
    I remember how carefully they handled the ensemble they presented me and when I tried it on, it was as if they were admiring the outfit as if it were the first time they had seen it themselves.

    “The styling and workmanship makes each item in the collection something unique and special to have in your wardrobe or to give as a gift. I love the variety of colors and the appliqué designs. The clothing is elegant and stylish without being a cultural “costume” so you can wear it anywhere knowing it’s something both unique and stylish. I own several tunics, soft blazers, and pantsuits that I always get compliments on wherever I go.

    With a mixture of unusual and exotic prints, Fantasia Trading has positioned itself as a leader in Moroccan fashion for distinctive lifestyles. The artistic designs are highlighted by the designer’s love of vibrant colors and luxurious fabrics. The philosophy of the company is that detail is the hallmark of the Bensaid’s distinct and creative approach to design. “That gives our business the exclusivity of all the handcrafted garments here and there,” Hanna Bensaid said.

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    Sarah Tricha

    Project of an informal student of Morocan design. more