Crouch End entrepreneur supports Moroccan women with textile business
- Credit: Sarah Allaoui
A Crouch End woman has launched a business celebrating Moroccan culture following the death of her grandmother.
Having moved to the UK for university, Sarah Allaoui, 29, was unable to fly home last year during the pandemic.
The engineer decided to found textile brand Moussem to “reconnect” with her Moroccan Amazigh heritage, after seeing many imitation rugs on the high street.
Sarah told the Ham&High: “I was feeling lost and wanted to learn more about my family’s culture.
“Amazigh people, or Berbers, are an ethnic group who are indigenous to North Africa, and many were badly affected Covid.
“The textile industry is driven by tourism, and there wasn’t the same demand for Berber rugs. It became my mission to support these women makers.”
Sarah’s parents, who still live in Morocco, travelled around the country knocking on people’s doors and getting them involved in the business.
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“I wanted to connect lovers of authentic textiles directly with the makers, many of whom typically get a very small fee as there are so many middle-men,” she said.
Initially launching Moussem online in December, Sarah was finally able to host her first in-person stall in June, which saw her weekly sales double.
She said: “It’s been incredible, and I’m still surprised to this day how well it’s going.
“People have really connected with the concept.”
Her first pop-up was at Crouch End’s 46 Park Road, which was the first shop Sarah went into after moving to the area.
“I thought it would just be my friends who turned up, but so many people from my Instagram community came,” she added.
“I was mind-blown, some had even travelled for an hour to get there.”
“Meeting people in person allowed us to connect on a deeper level, and for them to understand the story behind the rug.”
Moussem is named after an annual nomadic gathering of more than thirty tribes in Morocco, where people meet up and preserve Amazigh heritage.
“That’s exactly what we want to do,” Sarah added.
“It’s fun, bright and colourful, just like our rugs.”
Using digital payments firm Square, the entrepreneur explained she could easily take card payments from customers.
“There are high-value items, so people don’t want to pay with cash,” she added.
“Nearly everyone pays with a card, and this turned out to be a really cost-effective solution.”