After working in Morocco for over 25 years on their label, En Shalla, Maryam and Daren Bonar have, for the past four years, immersed themselves in a project embroidering recycled food bags in and outside Marrakech, Morocco. The project is helping to address a number of issues that are dear to the founders' hearts - including preventing the bags from becoming landfill and offering the women and children in and around Marrakech an education and personal empowerment.
Ethically and sustainably made, born in Morocco and bred in London, En Shalla design practical and beautiful bags, made entirely by hand and utilising the ancestral know-how of artisans and groups of women in small villages. Each piece is unique and varies slightly.
This Anglo-Moroccan company focuses on high-end accessories blending North African art with modern fashionable ideas. The core of the brand lies in the hand made aspect. The Food Bag Foundation is continuing the ethos of their brand - 'Don't waste, create and educate.'
Most women from a very early age in Morocco grow up surrounded by design and ingenuity and learn various hand skills throughout their life. This project focusses on highlighting the women's creativity and bringing it to the forefront - so that these ladies can shine. Women's groups in and around Marrakech hand-embroider different materials though the plastic of the food sacs that were originally used to carry industrial quantities of rice, couscous, flour and other commodity goods.
Many women in rural areas outside Marrakech are sometimes not able to work due to the social environment they live in. One of the beautiful things about this project is that En Shalla are able to take the work to them. This enables women to utilise their creativity, enjoy it and also earn an income from it.
40% of women in Morocco cannot read or write and in addition to providing work and a sense of purpose to these women, a charity has been set up to help women to become literate. These are fundamental aspects of human life that En Shalla believe everybody should be given the opportunity to have, including these already wonderfully talented women.
The money needed for this project will be generated by giving a percentage of the profit from each bag sold. Tutors are sent to different villages to give lessons in basic reading and writing skills as some women are not allowed to leave the place where they live without their husband's consent, so it is important to take the knowledge to them.
As part of their eduction, En Shalla are teaching women living there about the environment and the importance of looking after it.