25 Feb 2019
Bejaia, Algeria
Sustainable Textiles & Clothing

Bejaia, a picturesque seaside city in Algeria’s Kabylie region, has a long history of manufacturing colorful rugs. Locals Anis Ouazane and Nardjes Mokhtari took that traditional flair and turned it into a green business. At Atelier Le Printemps, discarded shirts and jeans enjoy a new life as quilts, cushion covers or handbags. 

Mokhtari’s creativity and talent is the driving force behind Atelier Le Printemps. “I’ve always loved sewing. It’s been my passion since I was a child, and now I finally have the chance to make a living out of it,” she said.

Atelier Le Printemps champions the upcycling of waste fabrics as brand new, fashionable pieces. The pair recycles discarded textiles and fabrics to duvets and bedding; with Atelier Le Printemps’ intervention, those materials would have ended up in landfill.

Ouazane noted that Atelier Le Printemps received valuable assistance from the SwitchMed program. For instance, the co-founders  attended workshops  on eco-design principles and silk-screen printing. This training helped Atelier Le Printemps to eliminate chemical waste derived from dyes and adjust their products to market trends.

Thankfully, green business is booming for the pair. Business revenues went up by 30 percent following the SwitchMed training sessions, and recycling capacity has increased by 70 percent. Atelier Le Printemps also ran nine workshops for children, and plans to conduct training for session for other SMEs in the local area.

Ouazane perceives Atelier Le Printemps’ biggest challenge as the prevalence of cheap fabrics in the Algerian market, which in turn restricts the quality of Mokhtari’s output. “In Algeria, the big challenge is sourcing high-quality fabrics. There aren’t many patterns available on the Algerian market, as the national textile industry isn’t what it used to be,” Ouzane explained. “The majority of fabrics come from China now.”

But adversity has improved Atelier Le Printemps, in its own way. Frustrated at the lack of quality fabrics, the business now produces its own natural dyes, reducing the environmental impact of chemicals used in cheaper materials. 

The effort is paying off, with Ouazane and Mokhtari winning praise in high places. The Ministry of the Environment invited them to present at the very first International Exhibition for the Environment and Renewable Energies (SIERRA) in Algiers: a fitting reward for dedicated, innovative entrepreneurship.

 

Learn more about Atelier Le Printemps on Facebook.

Atelier Le Printemps Sustainable clothing & textiles
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