A Crouch End woman has started a business celebrating Moroccan culture following the death of her grandmother.
After moving to the UK for college, Sarah Allaoui, 29, was unable to return home last year during the pandemic.
The engineer decided to found the Moussem textile brand to “reconnect” with his Moroccan Amazigh heritage, after seeing many imitation rugs in the main street.
Sarah told Ham & High: “I felt lost and wanted to learn more about my family’s culture.
“The Amazighs, or Berbers, are an indigenous ethnic group in North Africa, and many have been hit hard by Covid.
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“The textile industry is driven by tourism, and there was not the same demand for Berber rugs. It has become my mission to support these creative women.
Sarah’s parents, who still live in Morocco, have traveled the country knocking on people‘s doors and getting them involved in the business.
“I wanted to connect authentic textile enthusiasts directly with the manufacturers, many of whom usually receive a very small amount because there are so many middlemen,” she said.
Initially launching Moussem online in December, Sarah was finally able to host her first stand in person in June, which saw her weekly sales double.
She said: “It has been amazing, and I am still surprised to this day how well it is going.
“People really connected to the concept. ”
Her first pop-up was at 46 Park Road in Crouch End, which was the first store Sarah entered after moving to the area.
“I thought it would only be my friends showing up, but so many people from my Instagram community came out,” she added.
“I was blown away, some had even traveled for an hour to get there.”
“Meeting people in person allowed us to connect on a deeper level and allow them to understand the story behind the mat. ”
Moussem takes its name from an annual nomadic gathering of over thirty tribes in Morocco, where people meet and preserve Amazigh heritage.
“This is exactly what we want to do,” Sarah added.
“It’s fun, bright and colorful, just like our rugs. ”
Using digital payment company Square, the entrepreneur explained that she can easily accept card payments from customers.
“There are high value items so people don’t want to pay cash,” she added.
“Almost everyone pays with a card, and it has turned out to be a really cost effective solution.”