Thursday, 25 August 2011

Moroccan Mayhem

It has been a busy week here at Andara HQ and it is still only Thursday! 

This week we flew out to Morocco to meet with our suppliers to see how work is progressing on all our new Christmas stock.  As always, Marrakech was hot, dusty and completely exhausting. 

Love it ALL
I first visited Marrakech when I was 19 and fell in love with the place.  When I told Sophie about the incredibly chaotic maze of souks, filled with everything you could ever wish to buy, she agreed that Marrakech would be a fantastic place to go and get some ideas and inspiration for Andara.  We were so impressed by what we saw and the artisans that we met that we decided to investigate Morocco further.  We have now found some great guys to work with and are slowly building up a business relationship with them.  Not as easy as that may sound as one of our guys doesn't use the internet so contacting him is always tricky!  It is however, so important for us to work directly with the artisans to make sure that all our products are not only hand crafted, but hand crafted beautifully, that it is worth all the struggle and frustration.

Sophie looking out over Place Jamaa el Fna 
This has just been our third trip to Morocco and we had assumed that by now, our buying trips would be an easier, smoother and less frustrating experience.  Not a chance!  August, we now know, is a difficult month to try and do business.  First of all it is really hot.  We were lucky as the temperature stayed in the high 30’s whilst we were out there but a week ago it had been 46 degrees.  Secondly, this year Ramadan falls over the whole month of August so 3 weeks in, our suppliers were tired and hungry.  Not ideal when trying to negotiate prices and quantities.

Sadly, since our last trip, Marrakech has suffered a terrorist attack when a bomb went off in one of the most popular restaurants in their main square - a huge meeting place for tourists and local alike.  Re-building hasn’t started yet so we were able to see the damage caused by the bomb.  It was horrible to see the destruction but luckily all our suppliers were unaffected and life now goes on around it.  One stall holder is even using the scaffolding holding up the remains of the building as hanging rails to display his wares.  

Working Hard!
You’ll all be glad to hear that overall, the trip was a success and you can look forward to some great new products at Andara this Christmas.  Now we just have to worry about getting them to the UK in time!

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