25 Feb 2019
Bejaia, Algeria
Sustainable Textiles & Clothing

Algeria and its cities are an alluring mystery to outside onlookers but are especially intriguing to travelers within the North African country. Bejaia to be specific is an enticing port city with a history of making colorful rugs.

Married couple and entrepreneurs Anis Ouazane and Nardjes Mokhtari took the tradition of making colorful rugs and turned it into a green business through turning things as simple as old shirts and jeans into cushions, quilts and handbags.

Another driving force is Mokhtari’s creativity and talent. “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 says.

This living is Atelier Le Printemps which recycles discarded textiles and fabrics to duvets and bedding, salvaging them from ending up in landfills. “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. The majority of fabrics come from China now,” Ouazane explains.

But the few importers available are not necessarily concerned with quality prompting the pair to produce their own natural dyes to lessen the impact of chemicals on the environment.

The pieces the couple get their hands on they process in an eco-friendly manner using Berber patterns.

Thanks to SwitchMed’s support, the two managed to attend key training sessions helping them strengthen their business model based on circular economy principles.

They’ve also attended workshops providing training on eco-design principles and silk-

screen printing. This helped them also helped them to eliminate chemical waste derived from dyes, value raw material adaptability and adjust their products to market trends.

They were further helped develop a raw-materials supply system to improve their waste management by not only collecting scraps and other materials from their own workshop but also from other textile workshops, households and industrialists.

Following these sessions, Atelier Le Printemps, their textile waste recycling and upcycling operations increased by 70% or 205 kgs over the course of one year. “We have developed a collection of 16 new products using recycled waste and new sustainable design techniques (ecological dying, upcycling), with a focus on increased water and energy efficiency. We have improved the quality of the raw materials we use, having removed four types of unsustainable textile fabrics (plastics, synthetic fabrics such as lycra, lurex, clothing labels) from our production process, with greater emphasis on the use of natural cotton, gunny (coarse sacking material), and linen,” Mokhtari adds. They also managed to take on two more female employees.

Additionally, in the span of only six months, their business revenues went up by 30%. On top of that, they ran nine workshops for children and their next target is to direct future training sessions towards SMEs and other key actors in the area.

The Ministry of the Environment also invited them to present their project at the very first International Exhibition for the Environment and Renewable Energies (SIERRA) in Algiers.

When asked whether they ship somewhere else, Ouazane said they to Algiers and abroad.

 

Learn more about Atelier Le Printemps through their Facebook page.

Atelier Le Printemps Sustainable clothing & textiles
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