Mushmina’s style is bohemian, colorful, and quirky. Their new collection of
Moroccan boucherouite “rag rugs” perfectly complements their line of home decor, as each piece is whimsical in form and encompasses vibrant patterns and ribbon-like juxtapositions. Co-founder Heather O’Neill explains, “I was drawn to these free-form carpets which are made from leftover scraps of fabric and are part of a long tradition which had its roots in the rural region of Boujad. The ladies of Boujad are now using our fabric remnants as a way to create new patterns and unique motifs.”
Heather and her sister Katie O’Neill founded Mushmina in 2009, as a social enterprise that produces custom designed Moroccan accessories, working directly with women-run cooperatives in remote villages. “Ladies first created boucherouite carpets for warmth in their homes and had no intention of selling them in the markets. Many families have used them as floor coverings for years. Moroccan women are very resourceful and always looking for ways to make something beautiful and purposeful out of anything they have. It was only recently that they have become trendy. Halima, a master in this craft, actually watched a TV special on this topic and it made her laugh to think that her country's simple weavings are now popular in the western world. She is excited to bring her craft to Mushmina and the rest of the global marketplace."
“Boucherouite rag rugs were not only created for the private use in one's home, but also as saddles for donkeys and camels. Most women cut up scraps and worked on traditional wooden looms out of their homes.” Heather adds, “Halima is currently working on a new line of Boucherouite rugs, as well as a new line of woven fabric that will be sewn into our fall collection handbags. In Halima's case, she works in her kitchen. The warps are made of cotton and if she is fast, she can complete one rug in a day. Before working with Mushmina, the women would sell their goods at the local souk where they display their wares in a circle on the ground at dawn. Shop owners and middlemen then come early to buy up the best products.”
As opposed to other traditional weaving techniques, rag rugs do not require any drawings or predefined designs. They also mark an end of an era where traditional materials, such as sheep's wool, are now substituted by new materials. This transition is an inevitable consequence of the widespread economic, social, and cultural changes in Morocco’s rural areas, including the shift from nomadic animal husbandry to more sedentary farming.
Mushmina is growing quickly, and is now working with well over nine artisan groups and employing over 85 people. Some are seamstresses, some are skilled in embroidery, and some do labeling and finishing. While most of the women work in their homes, they are in the midst of opening a new workshop and training center. Mushmina walks the walk as they are designing change. They recognize the limited bargaining power women have in the local marketplace, as well as the limited access to international markets, and their goal is to improve the economic options available for women. Heather concludes by saying, “Despite these challenges, the artisans are full of ideas, spirit, and vision. They are the reason my sister and I started this company."
For more information, please visit- www.mushmina.com. Also visit their Indiegogo campaign at: http://igg.me/at/FlyingCamelTraining/x/3127688 to learn more about the new women’s workshop and training center.