My first interview takes me into the home of a selfmade business woman. Fayrouz, a woman in her fourties, mother of four children and designer of women’s clothes, has invited us into her home. Already while entering, I see a lot of small handmade pieces of decoration, which tells me something about the good? taste of this woman. We take a seat in the living room. The atmosphere is very warm and welcoming. Just like the woman sitting in front of me, Fayrouz.
Let’s start with her story. Fayrouz studied English literature in college, and followed courses in sewing clothes parallel to that. Her first job was exactly that, sewing and making simple clothes for Moroccan women. But that alone did not really satisfy Fayrouz.
Some time afterwards, I decided to go further. So I followed a course in designing. And that’s what I do today: design clothes for my customers and put them into reality.
On the question on where she finds her inspiration, she tells me, In pretty much everything, from things as small as a blanket laying on the table, to the pattern in a colourful window. But what I like most, is vintage styles. Oh, and traditional Moroccon style of course!
But not all of the customers come for traditionally Moroccan patterns and shapes. Fayrouz has to keep herself updated on the latest fashion trends in the world regularly. For this reason, a big diversity can be found in Fayrouz’ designs: traditional meets modern.
ME: Tell me about your work. What kind of clothes do you create?
FAYROUZ: I make a wide range of clothes.
I create djellabas: those are simple, long and more or less shaped clothes for everyday casual wear. And, I also make Qaftans, those are more heavy and fancy clothing for special occasions such as Eid and the attendance of weddings. And at times, even brides come to me! That brings me the biggest joy – to create a beautiful dress for a bride.
ME: And did you always want to become a designer? Like, was that your dream since you were little?
FAYROUZ: No, actually not. When I was a child, I wanted to become a teacher. But, life took me here. And I can say today that I am happy! Otherwise I would have stopped with this work. But it really does make me happy.
ME: So do you want your daughter to pursue the same craft later on?
FAYROUZ: Oh no, not at all!
I’m surprised. If she enjoys the work so much and is happy with her work, why wouldn’t she want to see her daughter in the same branche/situation?
FAYROUZ: The job is really nice, but I don’t want my daughter to do this kind of job! I want to see her pursue a higher career.
ME: But why not? Are there downsides to this kind of job?
FAYROUZ: Well, some things are difficult. One thing that I wish would be different, is the health system for people working in my sector. For the lower and middle class, it is quite difficult to get good health treatment. Even when you pay a lot of money, the waiting time can be quite long. My sister for example was sick and still had to wait 6 months to get a check-up.
ME: Ah I see, that can surely be difficult! So what kind of job does your daughter want to pursue to avoid this?
FAYROUZ: A government job. In government jobs, you have the best job security and insurance. There is a trend among young people to pursue government jobs. The government does not really support NGOs and companies, so the younger population is turning towards the government itself now.
ME: But I can imagine that there are not enough jobs in the government for everyone trying to get one. What is the alternative for people?
FAYROUZ: Well, sadly there is another trend among the younger Moroccan population. A lot of people are tying to get out of the country, and get a job abroad. It makes me very sad to see this. I mean, if the youth is leaving Morocco, then what will be the future of our country?
ME: And what about you? Have you never thought about leaving the country for, among others, better health conditions?
FAYROUZ: Actually, I have lived in Canada for a few months/years. But what I missed about Morocco, was the warmth and the community feeling among people.
That is something I can relate to. In my time in Morocco until now, I could feel and observe the community forming among people many times. But what I also noticed, was that the groups of people mostly consist of the same gender: you see groups of men walking around, and groups of women. I am curious about what Fayrouz thinks about this topic.
ME: What do you think about the situation for women in Morocco?
FAYROUZ: There are difficulties here that women have to face. But slowly, the situation is changing. There are more and more associations opening up, that fight for women’s rights.
ME: Oh, interesting! And what do These associations do for women?
FAYROUZ: In these associations, quite often there are lawyers involved that help out and support the people. Women that are facing problems such as domestic violence, can go there and get advise on what they can do.
ME: So what happens if a woman is going through domestic violence? What legal steps apply to this situation?
FAYROUZ: 12 years ago, a law was introduced that prohibits the man to beat his wife [or any other woman]. The legal consequence if he still does it, is that he will get executed.
On the Question if Fayrouz knows more About this Topic, she shakes her head. I don’t follow the news about this topic regularly, she says. But I know that still a lot of things have to change for women living in Morocco.
I drink one more sip of the delicious Moroccan tea she has offered me, say thank you and bid Farewell to Fayrouz. It was nice meeting her.