04 Dec 2018
Tunis, Tunisia
Sustainable Textiles and Clothing

Asma Zarkouna has packed a lot of creativity into her tiny arts and crafts store, Le Carré Traditionnel (“The Traditional Square”). She describes the hole-in-the-wall Tunis premises as “a 24 square meter shop, small in size but large in spirit.” Le Carré Traditionnel sells an assortment of handicrafts drawing on aspects of Tunisia’s rich culture, including mosaics, paintings and fake jewelry.

Zarkouna’s organization sets itself apart by maintaining high standards of sustainability. Le Carré Traditionnel’s jewelry line is made from recyclable materials, while salvaged driftwood forms the basis of light shades and fixtures. This objective dovetails neatly with Zarkouna’s love for her homeland’s artistic heritage. Many traditional Tunisian handicrafts, she said, can be manufactured “in total harmony with the environment.”

Zarkouna has brought a wealth of experience to Le Carré Traditionnel, which was formally established in late 2016. She graduated from the Tunis School of Fine Arts, before embarking on a career in interior design.

This resume helped her discover resourceful ways of making handicrafts both attractive and productive, resulting in Le Carré Traditionnel’s sustainable wares. Zarkouna can also repair delicate treasures like African masks and picture frames.

Commercial products are just one half of Le Carré Traditionnel’s business model. The store also runs art workshops for children, helping Tunis’ young ones discover fields like painting, drawing and origami.

Importantly, Le Carré Traditionnel welcomes fresh perspectives and creative ideas with open arms. Zarkouna stressed that she collaborates with a broad spectrum of local artists, who vary based on their regional know-how and chosen medium.

Le Carré Traditionnel may primarily sell jewelry, but the workspace embraces specialties like interior design and photography. This inclusive approach feeds back into the store’s product offering, which includes mosaics from southern El Jem and weaving from northern Tunisia.

For Zarkouna, the important link is appreciation amongst artists for Tunisia’s proud history of making beautiful things. “It’s the rediscovery of heritage that created this project,” she said.

Le Carré Traditionnel participated in the SwitchMed Incubator Program, which provides technical and logistical support for eco-friendly entrepreneurs. According to Zarkouna, SwitchMed assigned business mentors to Le Carré Traditionnel, who helped devise a realistic business plan.


Learn more about Le Carré Traditionnel through Facebook.

Photos courtesy of Le Carré Traditionnel

Le Carré Traditionnel Sustainable Textiles & Clothing