Just outside of Marrakech’s all encompassing magnetism is but another level of living ~Starting my day venturing away from the bustle of the souks towards the climb of the snow capped landscape of the Atlas mountains is truly soul enlivening. One of my favorite parts of our work in Morocco has become our visits with the women artisans of The Eve Branson Foundation. Their berber village along the cliffs of these majestic mountains hosts a creative center for the local community to learn and grow their artistic skills setup by the Branson family and outstanding staff.

Just before working on a project I experience this familiar inner “excitement” as to how things will go, which direction it will take and hopeful it will be successful for all of those involved…you see, every effort is that of a community here in Morocco. This trip was yet another reminder that we all need one another for survival and success to abound. It is in this humble and artistic community that I find I am continuously learning almost more than I’m teaching while I visit for a workshop. My designs are inspired by my surroundings here and it is a joy to see them translated through the handwork of the artisans in this collaborative process. Just opposite the enchanting Kasbah Tamadot Branson hotel, the foundation offers the locals programs on seamstress work, embroidery, woodworking and a now hand loom for women, traditionally a craft of men. The growth of the center is inspiring and we’re thrilled to be a part of the journey. From color theory workshops to new clothing patterns, as Mushmina grows so will our ability to provide artisan employment opportunities with a focus on women’s empowerment while offering inspired pieces in partnership with EBF and beyond.

Something I’ve learned in this unpredictable work which continues to propel me is that when you follow the pull of the universe, in this case into the lure of the mountains, you will be rewarded with confirmations. I’m easy to please and the spirit of the women I meet is reward enough but I’m not opposed to a glass of wine at the end of the day while soaking in the energy of the Atlas Mountains on the veranda of Kasbah Tamadot. Life is majestic.

Cheers,                                                                                                                                                                    Katie O’Neill                                                                                                                                             Mushmina, Creative Director

View our collections at www.mushmina.com

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I recently spent a week on the island and as usual when I travel the thing I was most impressed with was the people. Cubans are as wildly spirited as the colors of their country which is necessary for their otherwise challenging day to day life in this socialist setting. Candy colored cars from the 50’s have been hacked to life as your vehicle on this journey. The weather and the foliage are tropical and architecture charmingly dilapidated. The billboards boast signs of the revolution- “Socialismo o Muerte” as the locals welcome tourists into their homes with a sweet demeanor that softens their strong resourcefulness in finding their own way. Garages and porches have been transformed into tasty restaurants and contemporary galleries and the nightlife of rum drinks, cuban jazz and salsa rock the city to sleep for yet another night. Though I only got to visit the city of Havana and the white sand beaches of the east, I was made to feel at home in Cuba and was surprised by the hardships of it’s past, the prospects of it’s future, and the ‘paciencia’ and spirit of the present moment, rapidly changing though still captured in time like a photo.

My advice for travelers is to learn with an open heart and take a break from your cell phones as the best and only connection there is the present moment.

With love,
Katie O’Neill
Creative Director, Mushmina
Photos from my personal trip. January 2017.

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