Founded in 2009, Ulayah ™ was created out of our interest in interiors, spaces and design, and for our love of natural and local materials such as leather, looms and textiles. We strive to offer an edit of handmade home goods & accessories from all around Morocco and from different part of the world. At Ulayah ™ we believe that culture craft cultivates an understanding of those in far off places whom use their hands to communicate and share with us their time-tested techniques, history and rich societal talents. We celebrate all people with an understanding that culture craft offers a deep understanding of both what binds us while at the same time celebrating the divine differences. As a community brand we strive to establish sustainable relationships with our artisans. From there, we sell directly to you with no middleman, This is how we’re able to offer handmade goods, crafted with the highest quality materials, at more affordable prices.
Our collective has set out to build a company that celebrates the people behind our products. connect artists, makers and creatives to collaborate and inspire each other. Together we can grow our businesses, support one another and provide a unique shopping experience to our community.
How our first cooperative collaboration came to life
The Marrakech region is known throughout Morocco for creating some of the finest Poufs in the country.
The craft was introduced by Sefrou’s Jewish residents to the women of the Sefrou region. The Poufs making became very popular because it allowed the women to work from home. It also became a social activity as many women visited one another and taught each other different pouf-making techniques while they managed household duties.
The Poufs brought an additional source of income that was then used to help the family with everyday purchases, school supplies, and clothing.
Traditionally, men have been expected to handle all affairs outside the home while women are in charge of all domestic affairs. As such, very few women participate in the trade of their craft.
Often the buttons are sold in bulk at a low price to wholesalers or tailors who then resell the buttons with a much higher markup in the broader market.
In the beginning a group of women gathered to form an association to learn about how they could form a cooperative.
The association could not generate income as dictated by Moroccan law so the purpose was simply to gather women who believed that they could benefit much more if they could manage the sale and the development of their Poufs.
Forming an association would also create a collective group that could then tap into government resources like literacy classes that were desperately needed given that the illiteracy rate of the women in the region was close to 80%.
Taking the next step
We were able to form the core group that would now be able to help the women of the region financially through the sale of their Poufs.
The cooperative began with a micro-credit loan to acquire supplies.
Then, little by little the cooperative’s list of clients began to grow as the cooperative gained notoriety for the quality and diversity of their buttons drawing praise from tailors and wholesalers in Rabat and Casablanca.
It was a bold step for the women who were now delving into a male-dominated environment negotiating the price of their products, determining the value of their labor, and managing a growing enterprise.
Learning new skills and diversifying our products
The cooperative asked the Marrakech Province delegation to train a group of women interested in learning to weave fabrics on horizontal looms.
The women took advantage of a two-year program offered by the delegation.
Once they had received their weaving certificate, they solicited and were awarded funding from Morocco’s Initiative Nationale pour le Dévelopment Humain to obtain a number of horizontal and vertical looms. The looms provided more employment opportunities and diversified their product line.
The creation of new Poufs continues today.
The membership, which now consists of more than 40 members, continues to exchange ideas that have led to new products like blankets, rugs, and baskets.
As the cooperative has grown so have the activities of the Ulayah We collaborated with other cooperatives forming a young girls empowerment camp for the Middle Atlas region called GLOW, Girls Leading Our World, that has been held annually. In addition to the camps, a portion of our profits from the cooperative is used to provide members and the surrounding community training in natural dyeing techniques and product development workshops provided in collaboration with non-governmental organizations is to improve the livelihood of the women of the Marrakech region. That has allowed many women to gain the skills necessary to develop a higher quality product, to obtain more value from their labor, and to gain the confidence to venture out from their traditional domestic role into the world of trade and commerce.
Your purchase of our products assists us in furthering our mission.
Every sale and every new client allows us to welcome more members into the cooperative and extends our community outreach.
We welcome your comments and suggestions.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about us.
We look forward to serving you in the future.