L’Artisanat du Maroc
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.
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.