26 Mar 2018
Casablanca, Morocco
Sustainable Textiles & Clothing

Morocco is known for its beautiful, vibrant rugs, hand-woven by women of the Berber tribes using the traditional Boucherouite technique. These rugs, which are becoming popular in home decors, have rich colors and thick, lush texture. Boucherouite means “a scrap from used clothing”, and it is traditionally made using recycled wool, cotton, lurex, and nylon. But now, many of these weavers are having a hard time making ends meet, which is why two young women are teaming up to make a difference.

When she was a child growing up in Casablanca, Fadwa Moussaif knew she wanted to help people.

“I used to take things I owned and give them to people because it made me happy,” she says. “As I grew up, I knew I wanted to help people in a sustainable way. I didn’t want to give them money, because money makes people lazy and only helps at that moment. So, I decided the best way to achieve this was to give people jobs.”

At first, she wasn’t sure how to make this dream of hers become a reality, but then she joined Enactus while attending the Faculty of Sciences and Technology of Mohammedia, where she met fellow student Amal Kenzari who herself has since graduated with a bachelor degree in process engineering.

“We went out into the rural communities and asked people about their lives and what they needed. We wanted to know how we could help,” says Moussaif, who is in her third year studying biomedical technology. “We found more than 20% of women in each village were experienced weavers but weren’t weaving. People aren’t buying their products, and even if they do manage to sell a rug, it takes them two weeks and the weaver doesn’t turn a good profit.”

The two young women decided they wanted to help give these women work, so they founded a textiles company called IDYR a word of Berber origin that means “living.”

How IDYR works:

IDYR’s goal is to manufacture and design products for daily use, that respect the environment and social conditions of the female artisans in Morocco.

The initiative does so through gathering scraps from large clothing and textile factories, then using those unwanted, clean materials to make beautiful products like handbags, rugs, clothing, ottomans, and pillows.

Recycling textiles is crucial for the environment. Studies have shown clothing production has negative impacts, such as water pollution and the use of toxic chemicals. Plus, “fast fashion”, where people buy clothes and then throw them away soon after, means more textiles in landfills.  In reality, the world consumers 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year, which is 400% more than the amount two decades ago.

“The textile companies have really big production lines and have the same fabric for more than 2,000 pieces,” explains Moussaif. “When they cut a shirt, they have waste. When they cut pants, they have waste. We collect the leftover pieces and materials we need for our collection and distribute them to women weavers.”

Those weavers are then able to work at home and bring in revenue that helps support their families. The products they make are aimed at active city people in Morocco, with a boho-chic style.

“Our customers are looking for original, comfortable, good quality products,” says Moussaif. “From original bags and fashion accessories to furniture and decorative elements for their homes.”

IDYR has received mentoring help from the business incubator NUMA Casablanca, which helps startups with funding.

Incubation Lead at NUMA Lamiae Skalli says they were impressed by what IDYR is trying to accomplish.

At NUMA Casablanca, we really care about businesses that work toward making a change. IDYR is one of these businesses. In addition to having a social impact through helping women get out of their precarity, it also has an environmental aspect by contributing into a more circular economy, using the traditional technique of Boucharouite,” notes Skalli. “Also, using Boucharouite, which has long been seen as a low-end technique used for rugs only, to create higher-end products, made us believe in the creative minds behind the project”

Skalli eventually added that she’s glad IDYR’s production model helps empower women who wouldn’t be able to make money any other way.

How IDYR hopes to grow:

IDYR has a low sales rate right now, selling three new products per week. So far, they’ve received their funding from entering and winning competitions, but need more money to grow.

“What we want is real production,” says Moussaif. “We need a space where we can set women up with work, new equipment, and a lot of material. The women don’t have space at home for a large production line. So, we’re hoping to find investors and buyers to help make this a reality.”

While the two founders look for partners, they continue to work on their brand and increasing its visibility using social media.

Presently, IDYR employs three women, with plans to eventually hire 20 more.

 

 

Follow IDYR’s updates through their Facebook page.

Photos: Courtesy of IDYR.

Kristin Hanes is a journalist who has a passion for the environment, sustainability, and science. She loves telling stories about people who are making a real difference in the world.Kristin Hanes
Weaving their way through, this initiative is reviving a dying technique while employing female artisans | The Switchers
IDYR Sustainable Textiles & Clothing
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