Leaving the cacophony of Marrakech behind, about 30 minutes outside of the city and with the Atlas Mountains visible in the distance, we come upon the village of Tamesloht . Despite being home to about 17,000 residents the streets appear deserted. The sun is strong overhead and the hustle and bustle of morning markets has given way to quieter indoor activities in the cool interiors of the homes. As we make our way towards the weaving studio though, we begin to hear the rhythmical sounds of the handlooms.
Walking into the main building housing the office and showroom space of the unit, we are warmly greeted by the founder of the weaver's association, Abdessadek, and offered welcome cup mint tea! Inspired by his own family's traditions and many years of working in the fashion industry Abdessadek founded an association in 2009 with the aim of giving back to his village and a vision to provide work for the members of a community known for its craft. The unit has grown from employing 60 artisans since we first visited in October 2017, to close to 160 full time artisans today. The 20 handlooms are worked primarily by the men of the association while the women are employed in the finer tasks involved in the finishing of the woven products. Embroidery, macramé and leather work round out the offerings of the artisan group. A testament to the dedication of Abdessadek and his team, the association supports 160 families with 70 % of the artisans being women.
Working mostly at the units spread around the village some also choose to work from home giving the flexibility needed to combine work with taking care of the family. And a "family"is how Abdessadek describes the artisans - everyone works together for the benefit of the larger unit and training is available for newcomers interested in learning the different aspects of the craft.