Oum handpicks and purchases each of its rugs directly from the Berber women who design and craft them. We, the Oum Team, are committed to empowering these women and compensating them generously for their labor and expertise.
One such artisan with whom we have forged a special relationship accepted our invitation to sit over tea to tell us more about herself.
Fatima comes from a small town in the region of Fez. Most of the women in her family are also weavers. And like most, she learned to weave at home with her mother. She noted that it was not a choice, but a necessity to make weaving her livelihood. Fatima has no formal schooling and thus is illiterate. Weaving is her only means of providing for her family. Questioned about the future of today’s girls, she said she would prefer for them to receive an education first, and to weave by choice, not obligation.
Fatima currently spends days at an informal collective comprised of family, friends, and neighbors. Of the sixteen years she has been weaving, it took six to seven to become an expert. She is inclined nowadays to crafting Beni Ouaraine rugs with lozenge motifs.
Describing the art of weaving, Fatima confides that she likens her rugs to companions, each keeping her company for the four to six weeks of completion. Sitting at her loom, she is at one with the cadence of its movement. Her habits of concentration permit her skilled hands to tie one precise knot after the other. The rhythm of her action, hour after hour, is restful; her mind, she admits, wanders freely beyond the tight focus of her eyes. She often sings. It is while weaving she dreams.
When asked why she is willing to sell her rugs to Oum, Fatima did not hesitate to reply. Since her initial contact with the Oum Team, she has been met with a courtesy and respect not previously experienced. As her relationship with us grew, so did her trust. After long years perfecting her abilities, she is very proud to have been singled out by Oum for the integrity of her artistic gifts.
Backed by Oum, no longer must she part with her work for a fraction of its value. She is grateful for the opportunity to have her rugs seen and admired. It is a particular joy knowing her pieces, these extensions of herself, will soon grace and embellish the homes of new owners.
At the end of tea, the Oum Team posed a final question. What does Fatima wish for the buyer of one of her rugs? Her answer was threefold. She hopes first that the buyer feels a piece of Morocco is a part of their home (she even hopes customers will visit!). Secondly, she requests that the buyer honor the collective artistry of Berber weavers who carry on this important tradition. And, last of all, she politely asks the new owners to treat her former companions with care, so they can be passed down to future generations.