INTERVIEW - Khalida, My Moroccan Rug
Khalida was one of the first persons I "met" online as OUTSIDE THE BOX was slowly taking shape.
From our first exchanges I have loved her energy and the ideas that were dancing in her head constantly. The first (and only) time we met in person, I was super pregnant and it was by total luck, in the kiddie pool of Lattich, as we were both relaxing while taking care of our children. This is what I love about Zug, our small city of friendly, reachable people: you can meet people you know in every corner of the town, unexpectedly, and have the greatest of times.
I sometimes envy Khalida, her creativity and her hands-on approach in life: if you want to do something, just build it yourself. While I struggle with my two hands sometimes on basic stuff, in the same time she has dismantled a kitchen, repainted he entire showroom, set up a new office decor and coordinated her rugs' designs with a new wallpaper she stuck herself on the wall.
But one great thing has been to observe her journey and creative process over time: when her first local project, The Beehive, closed, I figured there was a lot of unclosed books around, a lot of unanswered questions, and an ongoing search for THE project, the one that would connect her love for colours, her passion for design, and a very concrete, tangible need to connect to her origins.
I think she found it. This is My Moroccan Rug.
It’s my greatest pleasure to have you back on OUTSIDE THE BOX!
The last time we exchanged here, you were heading The Beehive, an atelier dedicated to women who wanted to find a safe space to be crafty, learn how to use tools, and meet like-minded people. This was back in October 2018, can you imagine?!
Since then much seems to have changed in your life, and it’s a privilege to get the next part of your story published here! So, to start with: How are you doing? I believe it is especially important to ask ourselves this question and respond honestly, you know, with the pandemic and stuff….
Thank you for asking. I am feeling good. Too busy sometimes, but happy.
Regarding the actual situation, I am keeping myself far from the TV and the news. We are lucky living in Switzerland. Compared to other countries, life continued almost normally.
Since the article in 2018, you have closed The Beehive and moved on to another business.
What happened to the atelier, and what made you close it?
The decision to close The Beehive was a decision I took with my head, not with my heart. It was a nice project which allowed me to meet many incredible women.
During one year I ranThe Beehive and My Moroccan Rug at the same time. At one point I just had to be realistic: I did not have enough time to run 2 businesses and 3 children in a 24h day.
When I took the decision to close it, I felt relieved. I knew that it was a good decision.
I am grateful that The Beehive brought me the connections, the experience and the energy to build My Moroccan Rug properly.
What did you actually learn from this business, and what values do you carry further in your new plans?
I learned many things in The Beehive. It was my first experience as an entrepreneur.
I was doing many things in this atelier myself and I realized that it was time and energy consuming. So I learned that a simple and clear vision is easier to implement and to develop.
I also learned how to give value to my time by selecting the projects I wanted to work on and the people I wanted to spend my time with. I started to learn about the latter when I became a mother, but this experience helped me to develop this skill better.
You are now the happy owner of My Moroccan Rug, and you seem to be thriving!
Tell us more about the company!
My Moroccan Rug sounds like evidence for me.
I feel I have achieved some steps in my life as a woman. Reaching 40 years old, I have felt the need of making something more connected to my values. Something useful not only for me.
I always wanted to develop a working connectionwith my home country, Morocco. Since my childhood I have been feeling privileged to grow up in Europe and sometimes I even feel some injustice about some women's life conditions.
MMR combines the need of making something useful, the envy to work with my country, the desire to support women and my passion for interior design (as you know, I was always very creative re-designing furniture in my previous life).
Were you always interested in interior design? Oh My God yes! That’s why I am moving my showroom every 3 months! I enjoy painting the walls and choosing the colors!
No seriously, I love interior design and I am always amazed by how the same place could look so different depending on who decorated it. I am always keeping my eyes open to the news trends and it helps me a lot when I create a new design.
Who are you working with, and what kind of support do you get, as a working mum, to get the business running?
I started by doing everything by myself and I realized quickly that it was not working. I did my first website by myself and it was so ugly, my God!
After one year managing my business I earned enough to reinvest in a real website made by the best brand designer, Lauren Roberts, and in real, professional pictures made by a great photographer, Mary Fernandez.
All the rest I am doing it on my own. Honestly, I don’t know how to be a boss. Maybe it’s the next skill I have to learn.
You have always had sustainability and women empowerment at heart: how do you work with the women communities in Morocco who weave the rugs?
I really enjoy working with Moroccan women. They remind me of my aunts. We speak the same language and we have the same codes. It is really gratifying for me to bring support to the women of my country. I know their situation and I know how hard workers they are.
It is really pleasant to work with them but it’s not always easy because we don’t have the same standards. When I design a rug I need to be very precise with the color. It already happened that they used another shade of the wool color because this one was ready instead of preparing a new one. I just have to insist more and check every step of the production.
The other thing is that they don’t know how to read, so we communicate essentially by vocal notes and whatsapp videos. Normally I should send them a technical drawing with all the quotes and the specific details. Instead of that I create a design and I film it with all the explanations.
How does your creative process work, from your sketches to the rug in someone’s living room?
Inspiration can come from everywhere: a beautiful interior design, the color of something in nature, or the color and the shape of a beautiful object.
I need to be very relaxed to draw. I never draw when I am stressed in my personal or professional life.
The next rug I am working on is inspired by the colors of a beautiful butterfly I saw recently. I am really excited to start the production of this one.
You give your clients the opportunity to design their own rug: how does that work?
When I create for a customer, the first step is to know more about the clients. We organize a video call so I can see their home interior, and just with that I can have a lot of information about their taste and their real needs.
We discuss the color and the style, and with all that information I can start drawing. I always make 4 propositions and the customer chooses one.
Then I can start the process with the Moroccan team. I have samples of wood and based on that I start to explain what I want and they start the production.
Your Instagram videos showing you painting are very relaxing; what does art bring to your life?
Thank you for this beautiful compliment. I am happy if I can relax others.
Something really magic happens when I start painting. All the day, my head is full of all the things I have to do, for example managing the family and the business. But when I put my paintbrush in the water, all the million thoughts I have during the day immediately stop. It’s even stronger than meditation because I need no effort to slow down my head.
Any idea what you will be doing next? I am sure there is always a new, creative idea sleeping somewhere!
I have 2 things I want to develop.
The first one is that I will try to develop other handmade pieces with other Moroccan craftmen, for instance potery, lamps, poufs… This project is just a vision actually. I haven't even started working on it.
The second one is that I want to create a foundation to redistribute a part of the benefit to some charity and orphanages in Morocco. I want to be totally transparent and communicate about how the money will be used.
For example I am thinking of something like “by buying this rug you contribute to taking care of one child during a month”, something like that.
I still have to work on this idea too.
I already started to sponsor some charity projects in Morocco but it’s not official. I have to do it more officially.
Discover My Moroccan Rug online and get the chance to meet Khalida:
Pics and video: Mary Fernandez Photography