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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Mushmina Khamas and Tea

Why do we fear what we don’t understand?

I am an American living in Morocco.  People ask me all the time if I feel safe living in the Middle East, in a country and culture far from my own. My husband is Muslim and so is 99% of the population in Morocco. I first came to North Africa 12 years ago as a Peace Corps volunteer with the mission of promoting better understanding of Americans on the part of the people served and also better understanding of other people on the part of Americans. I cannot tell you how much this experience changed my life and how grateful I am that I had the education of living in another culture. It is humbling, eye opening, and yes I feel safe. I never met a Moroccan who wouldn’t stop what they were doing to welcome a foreigner with a pot of tea.

At Mushmina, one of our goals is to create positive purpose by sustaining the beautiful traditions of cultures. Developing relationships with the artisans that we work with and with our customers promotes understanding between cultures. It is the way we promote peace in the world.

Last night  as I meditated with Deepak Chopra on healing the division between ‘us and them,’ I couldn’t help but think of the state of the world this week. Katie and I did not want to let this important subject go unaddressed. Our hearts go out to Beirut , Paris, Syria, and all individuals living in war torn countries.

It has been our experience that sometimes people generalize a group based on the actions of a small minority that painfully misrepresents so many individuals.  It’s not a race or a religion that is evil, it is individuals who have lost their purpose and have been misguided.

This is why we feel so strongly about education, empowerment, and creating opportunity in the world.

Wishing you and yours a peaceful Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving

*Please note, any content below this including WordPress ads are not related to Mushmina.

 

 

 

 

Did you hear that Mushmina is moving!?

We have a new location in the lovely, Wayne PA. Join us on South Street for our final weekend and moving sale in Philadelphia.

Items under $50 -15% off, items over $50 -20% off, footwear -10% off this weekend only, jewelry over $60 -15% off

Boutique Hours at 1540 South Street:
Today Friday May 15th 5:30-8pm
Saturday 11am-8pm
Sunday 11-5pm

It’s our final weekend on South Street, but Philly don’t fret… you will see us at festivals and in our VW mobile boutique in the city this summer!

Thanks to all those who came out last night for Night Market on South Street. We are sad to go but were happy to see so many people come out to give us hugs and wish us luck at our new location.

Many thanks for all your best wishes and support!

“Trust the timing of your life!”

IMG_4164 Chefchouen Blue Size 7.5 (3)

Know in your heart that all things are possible. We couldn’t conceive of a miracle if none had ever happened. — Libbie Fudim

Happy Sunday!

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Exciting News! Mushmina has won a FedEx Small Business Grant. The funds will allow co-founders Heather and Katie O’Neill to complete the restoration of a 1974 Volkswagen (VW) Westfalia camper bus into a traveling Moroccan Caravan to showcase their line of handmade, fair trade accessories on the road across the U S.

The competition for the 2014 FedEx Small Business Grants was fierce with thousands of companies in the running. Mushmina’s many loyal fans and customers who cast their votes on Facebook, helped to propel them to finalists. One fan even admitted to trying to vote twice. He didn’t succeed but his enthusiasm and that of all the fans was infectious and appreciated. All the work and sharing paid off. On March 25th Heather and Katie found out they had won a first place grant of $5,000 to help expand their message of the benefits of fair trade products with new customers in the U.S. and abroad.

Katie and Heather know they could not have accomplished their goal of winning a grant without the support of their customers. Sharing traditional rural artisan crafts with the world is one of their passions and when Mushmina’s products connect people across cultures it’s incredibly rewarding. When the traveling boutique gets rolling in summer 2014, they expect to meet and connect with many new customers like the ones that made it possible to win a FedEx Small Business Grant and all their customers whose purchases economically empower rural artisans.

VW Westfalia Camper

VW Westfalia Camper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heather and Katie with Spring 2014 Handmade Bag Collection

Heather & Katie with fabric handbags at their Casablanca Studio, photo by Ingrid Pullar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

– By Yvonne King

Naema El Hami is all ‘qlbi’ or heart. Her story is a familiar one in Morocco where women of her generation were not sent to school because families did not see the value of an education for their daughters. Naema only attended school until the second grade when she was a mere 8-years old.

The unstoppable 52-year old mother of three is a local who was born and raised in Oued Zem, home to the Flying Camel Training Center and a city in Khouribga Province situated southwest of the Moroccan capital of Rabat. A true ‘Ouedzemiya,’ Naema learned to weave from her mom who spun her magic on a traditional wood loom known as a ‘minsij.’ She continued her training at the local ‘neddy’ a Moroccan training center where she learned embroidery, sewing, Rhonda traditional stitching, point de croix and hand stitching. She picked up additional skills from neighbors and friends ‘swiya b swiya’–‘little by little.’

Flying Camel Workshop Manager Kenza introduced her neighbor Naema to Mushmina as she has with many of the other artisans. When she first started with Mushmina in 2010, Naema hand-stitched scarves and wallets. A skilled and ambitious weaver, she worked on the embroidered pillow order for retailer Anthropologie in 2012.

Naema, a practical woman, realizes that her craft is also the means to earn ‘Floose!!’ (Money), she says as she laughs and a better way of life for her family. She can pay for things herself now and does not have to ask her husband for money for things that she needs. This year she plans to open her own bank account—another step toward financial independence.

A loving mother, Naema wants to see her two sons Amine 28, and Nabil 26 and her daughter Wafaa 19 succeed and be happy. Despite the fact that her two sons have diplomas as welders, they remain unemployed and this weighs on Naema. She encourages her two sons to apply each year for the American immigration lottery and uses money she earns for them to pay for the application and necessary Internet use. After all, she wants to be a grandmother and her sons can’t start a proper family until they are employed. Naema also dreams of building a beautiful house to enjoy in her later years where her grandchildren can visit and she can sip mint tea as the sun sets.

-From the series A Window to Morocco by Heather O’Neill and Yvonne King

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If I have been of service, if I have glimpsed more of the nature and essence of ultimate good, if I am inspired to reach wider horizons of thought and action, if I am at peace with myself, it has been a successful day. — Alex Noble

Soul Sunday @Mushmina!

Mali Blue Inshalla Nomads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See more from the Spring 2014 Collection here: http://www.mushmina.com/Spring-Summer-2014

Finding purpose

March 20, 2014

Yesterday at the the women’s workshop Katie and I came early for a full day’s work. At 2pm when the workshop officially opens the first woman to knock on the door was ‘Haja,’ Malika’s mother in law. Haja has been weaving her whole life and recently set up her loom in the workshop to weave in the company of the other women.

While Katie worked on the sewing machine and I on the computer, we enjoyed Haja’s quiet company. She takes off her shoes in a ritual of weaving and sits comfortably on top of a boucherouite rag rug. Haja was the first to arrive and the last to leave. She wove for 5 hours straight and would occasionally look up to smile.

This morning  Katie and I realized that what we do is not just about economic empowerment. It’s about women of all generations finding purpose.

Thanks Haja, you inspire us.

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-From a Window to Morocco the series by Heather O’Neill and Yvonne King.

Katie is coming to Morocco this week! We will hit the ground running. 1st stop, Mehdi’s workshop to design a new fabric collection. Excited to see what Katie will come up with this year.

Today I am finding inspiration in nature. Enjoy your Sunday and do whatever you need to do to recharge and renew your soul.

xo Mushmina

Katies Patterns

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oranges

Malika El Bouteqali was born in the rural village of Asrir in the Guelmim-Es Semara region in Southern Morocco where homes made of rich red clay and date palm trees mark the landscape. A ‘Saharaia’ or daughter of the Sahara, she grew up near the city of Guelmim (also spelled Guelmin or Goulimine) bounded by the northwestern Sahara and known as the gateway to the desert and Mauritania where Mushmina’s Mauritania fabrics originate.

A Spin master on the sewing machine, Malika still speaks with the accent of someone from the south. The married mother of four has three daughters, Fatima Zohra (14), Shamaa (12), Wisar (8) and a son, Hatim (5). Malika, who only attended school until the second grade, realizes the importance of education for women as well as men and emphasizes a strong education for all her children.

Curious and driven, Malika paid a neighbor to teach her how to sew while she was living in the Moroccan capital of Rabat where her husband was stationed as a police officer. After her children were born, the family returned to Southern Morocco where her entrepreneurial spirit shone through. Malika and her mother opened their own shop in their garage where they sold clothing and accessories. A quick study, Malika studies patterns and designs that appeal to her and creates versions of those designs with her own unique touch.

Malika has since settled in Oued Zem and has been working with Mushmina for two years. She started with ‘point de croix’ of Mushmina’s embroidered prayer flags, which were later sold to ABC Carpet and Home. Since then she has moved on to work on linen tunics, handbags, pillows, and many other items. Not one to slow down she is also enrolled in the Flying Camel Training Center to learn new techniques and continue improving her skills. On Malika’s list of future accomplishments is also expanding her literacy and learning to speak English.

Whirlwind artisan Malika is motivated to learn, teach, and exchange ideas through the cooperative and serve as an example to her children. Malika’s most fervent hope is that her children go far in their lives and advance beyond what she has achieved. They may have to go far indeed to surpass Malika who hopes to be ‘labas a liha,’ which means to have money, travel and sell products in markets across the world. Most of all she desires to keep growing in all aspects of her life, for as she says, “People always want to improve, am I right?” We couldn’t agree more.

-From “A Window to Morocco Series” – By Heather O’Neill and Yvonne King

Malika the seamstress (1) Malika the seamstress (3)

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