baba who?

baba souk founder stephanie hebert

It was in the Spring of 2010! I found myself in the middle of the amazing Marrakech souk market and I was completely head over heels. I was meeting my boyfriend’s family for the first time, it was a stressful and yet completely amazing first experience in Morocco.

At that time, I had the job most girls would dream of having. I was designing womenswear and traveling around the world in search of new trends for a big box fashion company. I had been really enjoying that job for 6 years but something inside of me did not feel right – Despite everyone telling me I was crazy to walk away from that job – I needed more creativity, I needed more challenges.

The Marrakech souk market was such a contrast with my world of fast fashion – made in China, the fast pace, the fast turn-over of the products I was sketching. I was flabbergasted with the beauty of Moroccan handmade crafts. The amazing handmade skills required, the hand weaving, the textures, the amazing colors were so magical and appealing to me and such a contrast with our American throw-away culture.

I had absolutely no plans to turn my visit of the souk into a business, all I knew is I wanted to bring back EVERYTHING I saw for my own apartment. So there I was completely ecstatic in the middle of the souk market showing my Marrakchi boyfriend everything we needed to bring back , 1 or even 3 rugs, a few Moroccan poufs, a bunch of cactus silk pillows….And every time I pointed something out to him, he would say, “Don’t buy this here honey, I know the artisans who make them and I prefer encouraging them directly”. That’s when something clicked in my head. This was an unexpected opportunity. He was born and raised in that market, in the middle of the old medina. He used to have a shop in the Marrakech souk during his university years before moving to Canada. He knew exactly how it worked and knew just about every artisan and every nook and cranny of this very hard to navigate labyrinth.

That’s when I thought to myself: “If I love these handmade crafts so much I’m sure lots of people would love them just as much as me.” I had a Bachelor’s degree in graphic design and was pretty much fearless (and let’s be honest, very, VERY naïve) So there I was already dreaming of selling all these beauties online.

I’ve always been into treasure hunting, finding the most beautiful pieces, in a store, a market, at a fair and on the web. I like to think I am a beauty hunter. The Moroccan souks are the perfect playground for me, sourcing among tons of handmade pieces makes me happy. My favorite game is to find the most amazing ones.

I would NEVER say that this journey was or is easy – but I love it. I believe in supporting artisans and I believe in products that are made to last, that you can cherish and love for a lifetime. I also feel good about showcasing my favorite indie designers, crafters, and makers as I have a ton of respect for people who create beauty with their own hands.

PS: I don’t believe in overnight success. Keep doing your own thing. Keep doing what you love.

-Stephanie XO

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