Member Profile: Elkarti Morocco
Ahmed Abidine, a student at Portland State University, founded Elkarti to showcase the work of Moroccan leather artisans. The centuries-old Moroccan leather industry, from tanning to product design and manufacturing, typically ships products to European fashion houses for sale or re-export under French or Italian brands. By creating a brand that focuses on the artisans themselves, Abidine hopes to create a direct link to consumers and generate economic growth and opportunity in Moroccan communities.
Abidine has spent nearly a year quietly selling to Portland, Oregon boutiques, working directly with both shop owners and Moroccan leatherworkers to carefully refine his line of unique bags and accessories. This year marks the introduction of handcrafted leather sandals and Argan oil to the Elkarti product line. The oil, for both cosmetic and culinary use, is sourced through Abidine’s family connections to the women’s cooperatives that produce it.
In conversation, Abidine talks about his family members who sell leather products in Moroccan markets and the way they connect consumers to artisans through an intimate understanding of the industry. Elkarti seeks to create the same connections on a global level. From personally purchasing the leather used in his bags, to working with the artisans handcrafting each item, to meeting with shop owners to discuss style and design, Abidine bridges the worlds of Moroccan leatherworkers and Portland consumers.
Learn more about Elkarti Morocco, their donations to charity, and their plans to provide business, marketing, and computer training to Moroccan artisans at: www.elkarti.com