Sophia Kacimi (Instagram) grew up in France, but always returned to Morocco. The founder of the funky label Zoubida (Instagram) has never forgotten her roots and works closely with Moroccan artisans to create her unique style.
You are heavily inspired by artisans in Morocco and their different crafts, tell us how this fascination began.
I am French-Moroccan. My dad’s family side is Amazigh, from a city called Khenifra in the Atlas mountains of Morocco. Only a few people know this… but Zoubida was, at the beginning, a concept of ‘art retreats’ around pottery, to discover and learn Moroccan craftsmanship. The idea came from the frustrations I was feeling working in the fashion industry and its ways of operating that were clashing with my values. In parallel, it came also from witnessing how craftsmanship was less and less valued, slowly disappearing. I wanted to find ways to push it abroad, where society is seeking ‘handmade’ and ‘unique’ [pieces].
What has been your most memorable experience while working with an artisan in Morocco?
Last week, for a film project I am doing with my friend Sara Benabdallah. The aim was to show the behind-the-scenes of Zoubida, so we interviewed some artisans we collaborate with. They all shared how much we changed their life by bringing them work, how much they loved working on such original developments that celebrate their craftsmanship that the new generations don’t really value anymore. It was very moving and reminded me why I started this adventure.
What is the story behind the name of your brand, Zoubida?
I wanted a woman’s name that was not used by anyone in my family (I have 14 uncles and aunts, with at least 2 kids each!). When I was young, my brothers and I were not speaking Arabic well, but were spending the summer holidays at my aunties’ houses in Morocco. When you’re a kid, you hear conversations, and you catch some words. Don’t ask me why, we caught Zoubida, who must have been the talk of the town, or just the neighbour. And it stuck! When we were growing up, when something was not going as expected, we would say ‘Zoubida!’. And I thought it summed up my work with artisans in Morocco. It never goes as planned!
Talk us through your most memorable childhood moment in Morocco.
Drinking tea at my aunt Aicha’s, sitting on her sofa covered with tlamt, the kind of heavy jacquard fabric we use in our collections.
As a creative residing in London, what Moroccan traditions do you hold onto?
Hosting dinners at mine! The highlight being my birthdays, for which I traditionally cook a couscous for at least 30 people, on my roof.
Tell us a little bit about your sustainable approach to creating.
The starting point of our creations are these upholstery fabrics called ‘tlamt’, traditionally used in Morocco to decorate the living room. We hunt for end of stocks (usually when there is a roll left of 2/3/5 metres, nobody uses it as you need way more to decorate a living room), and we repurpose them into one-of-a-kind clothes and accessories. Also, we keep everything local. From raw material to making, everything is from and in Morocco, providing work to local craftsmen. Lastly, we sell most of our pieces in pre-order, so there is no waste!
When you’re not creating, what do you enjoy doing?
My favorite thing is to hunt for treasures in antique markets. It is my biggest source of inspiration. I love coming across eclectic items, but mostly meeting the owners.
Who would you dream to dress in Zoubida and why?
I did a bit of gifting in the past, and it has been most of the time a huge disappointment: people not treating it with much respect and also taking free things for granted. So I just dream to dress people who like the clothes not only for their look, but for what they represent.
You’ve mentioned your love for discovering treasures, what have been your favorite discoveries so far?
Yesterday in Fez: I found some really unique vintage babouches with cute block heels, all hand-embroidered with golden silk thread. They are apparently from the region of Oujda, at the Algerian border.
What music do you listen to that gets you in the right creative mindset?
I love listening to Amazigh music on the radio (Radio Izlan), it is always so uplifting and grounding.
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