manzil / maison | September 2022
It's me, Joy. The woman behind raha roho.
I've recently captured my home and family for our Manzil / Maison series.
It's me, Joy. The woman behind raha roho.
I've recently captured my home and family for our Manzil / Maison series.
Photos as usual by my talented friend and entrepeneur: Mariel Nelms
I decided to feature my home and share some of the key themes in my life that have helped shape and support me through my journey as an entrepeneur and mother. As full-time caregiver to my two young boys, I spend a lot of time inside these four walls. It doubles as both our family home and head quarters for raha roho. I'm grateful to be able to stay home and run my business during nap times and quiet evenings.
The pout is real...!
One of the key goals for my home is to keep have an uncluttered space which is a constant challenge with two boys.
I thrifted this wrought-iron French bistro set with original wood seats and we have loved using it for candle-lit dinners after the boys go to bed.
raha roho is a slow-made textile import business, specializing in custom Moroccan rugs. I started this company in 2018 when I was pregnant with my first child and new I would be home for the next year.
I love vintage and second hand items. I hunted for months to find these rare Italian Cesca chairs. I was determined to learn how to re-cane them myself, and did some of the work before finally hiring an expert to finish the job (being a mum and moving homes at this time proved more time consuming than I'd anticipated).
As you can see, I love natural materials including brick, marble, and wood - and of course the beautiful Moroccan wool rugs.
How does your home make you feel?
Home truly is where my family is. I know this is such a cheesy answer, but we've moved a few times in the last 2 years and it has been a time of transition... so coming "home", wherever that may be feels really fulfilling. My home makes me feel uplifted and inspired.
When I'm not caring for my children, you'll often find me amongst my plants. I have a strong affinity for growing things and have many plants I've been raising for years. My pride and joy are the 8-foot fiddle leaf fig and the monstera in our living room. I'm obsessed with adding greenery as a way to instill colour and more oxygen into the home.
What’s one thing you love about where you live?
We moved from Vancouver to Port Moody last fall and love our new townhome. Our water-front community has easy access to mountains, ocean and lakes. The best part is our community of friends. We have made amazing new relationships with our neighbours and I don't have to venture more than 25 steps to be greeted by new "uncles" and "aunties" of my boys, have tea with a girlfriend, a playdate for my children, a hair cut at my neighbour's in-home salon. It's amazing for our children as we are a stone's throw away from a water park and playground that we visit every day, and then of course there's brewer's row where the community goes to refill a growler of beer or grab dinner from a food truck. Now that I'm back at work part time, the skytrain line is an added bonus for my commute to Vancouver. Port Moody has been rated one of the safest community in Canada, and we feel lucky to be in such a safe community.
My husband and I are big negroni fans, so the crystal cocktail glasses we found in a second-hand-store in Nelson B.C. have "served" us well over the years.
Hanging a few items like our long board and laundry basket creates floor space and it's fun for the boys to slam dunk their clothes.
What has been your favourite part about being a mum?
I have so many favourites and most of them are special moments and little laughs throughout the day. I enjoy the creative aspects of mothering, especially in a townhouse with confined spaces to play. We play on the Moroccan carpets which are soft and forgiving for two rambunctious boys - Guy (age 3.5) and Carmelo (age 1.5). This includes envisioning obstacle courses, tents in the living room, craft projects and patio water stations. I have been hoarding toilet paper rolls for months now to make binoculars and other crafts. I love watching their faces light up when they jump into something new, as we are always on the hunt for ways to keep them occupied. The joy of seeing how your children interpret different games and crafts is special. Guy loves pretending to be a cat, so I often find myself crawling across the rug into his room on hands and knees, purring like a feline to make him laugh, or putting down a plate of pumpkin seeds on the kitchen floor becuase he wants to "eat like a kitty". It's hilarious and humbling.
And if you want to share, the hardest part?
Having a second child is like a second chance at parenting. I'm grateful to feel more at ease this time around, but having two boys has certainly changed the dynamic. When Guy was born we hit the ground running and haven't looked back or slowed down. The boys are so physically active and close in age that a lot of our hurdles stem from both of them wanting attention at the same time. My husband and I are digging deep to find new ways to communicate with Guy that honour his personality and high spirits. I jokingly say we have a "threenager" right now, because I'm pretty sure this is a glimpse into parenting a teenager.
The boys love playing all over the home, and I've had fun decorating their rooms in natural tones and Moroccan rugs. A cast of my pregnant belly sits on the shelf in his room. The soft, low, armless chair suits my goal of simplicity and safety for the kids.
Describe a typical day in the life of Joy.
I would not survive without my journal and day-timer. This = my sanity. Without organization and forward planning I get lost in the whirlwind.
Days start early, usually around 5:30 am for some quiet time before the boys wake up. I squeeze in a workout or get rolling on a yummy breakfast with my husband. I finish making snacks and lunches, and I flip open the journal to refresh myself on plans for the day, often adding to the grocery and to-do list.
Our boys wake up between 6:30 and 7:00 and then it's go time! Breakfast is served with Spanish guitar or instrumental piano music in the background (this chills them and me out). After that it depends on the day of the week. I just returned to part time work as a registered nurse, so on those days I'm out the door at 6 a.m. to check patients in for surgery at 7 a.m. Guy goes to daycare on these days and my mum comes over to be with Carmelo. On the days that I am at home, the boys and I are off to a playground, or catch the skytrain to a new park, the mall (yes mall), or to meet friends for a play date. Getting out in the morning is an absolute must for us every day as the boys start bouncing off the walls, eager for fresh air and physical activity. I have become a very efficient snack and lunch packer and bring a variety of food for us everywhere we go. Whether it's little Carmelo telling me he's hungry by lifting his hand up to his mouth and saying "num nums" or Guy having a major calorie crash, being prepared with healthy snacks is a life saver.
Next up is lunch (if we haven't had it out at the park or in the stroller) and then it's nap time. This is when I get a few minutes to work on raha roho, prep dinner, or lie down for a rest. The boys are up by 3 p.m. and again it's time to get out. Val has been working at home this year so he's usually free in the afternoon to take the kids to the park before dinner at 5. I love using this window of time to head up to our roof top garden to water the plants and pick a selection of foods and herbs to incorporate into our dinner. Tonight it will be our home-grown eggplants roasted and topped with our fresh oregano and garlic. I also try to listen to a pod cast (list below) to unwind and learn something new.
After the boys go to bed it's time to catch up with my husband. Sometimes we watch a show and other nights we're both on our computers. I'll catch up on on emails, as well as check in on the various volunteer positions I have in our community. Hopefully I'm calling it a night with a book in bed by 9:30 (such an early bird over here).
We have a small Bohéme flat woven rugs to greet our feet in the morning on each side of the bed.
I find these match well with the natural and bright tones in our master bedroom.
Here's a list of podcasts I have downloaded recently:
Raising Good Humans with Dr. Aliza
The Daily by The New York Times
Unlocking Us with Brené Brown
How I Built This with Guy Raz
Having an Italian sculptor for a father has leant to our fun mix of paintings and art throughout the home, even in the bathrooms. I love a rich blend of plants and paintings for those splashes of colour.
You have some special pieces in your home, tell us how you choose what you bring into your space?
Our home is a mix of midcentury modern and vintage, with a heavy twist on the Mediterranean. My father is a granite and marble sculptor from Rome, Italy, so no wonder I have an affinity for Italian art, culture and the overall aesthetic. All of my favourite pieces are second-hand which really makes me adore them even more. These peices have literally been around the block. Whether it's the hand-made walnut credenza in our dining area, or the vintage floor lamp with the pleated shade. Each peice tells it's own story. I have a few very special peices that my dad made including a travertine plinth that I use as a side table or plant stand and a travertine framed mirror. I also tend to incorporate a lot of light, wood-based products and pieces crafted from plant-based materials, such as the hand-made Italian Cesca dining chairs and mini Moroccan stools that I brought home on my last trip to Marrakech. These things will be around for generations because they have been well made by experienced artisans.
And of course, I am a big supporter of wool-based pieces for the home, for obvious reasons! Our Moroccan rugs complete each room and have moved with us from home to home. The fun thing about rugs is that you can always switch up where you place them and play around with them in different areas to reinvigorate your space. We also have sheepskins which travel around the home, based on the season. They are a great layer to our white linen sofa and protect it from stains. I also bring them upstairs to our roof top lounge area for summer-evening chill sessions. They add amazing physical and visual texture.
Artwork is always very personal to me. I don't buy it to match the sofa, or my colour scheme. It's there as an accent and for sentimental reasons. Artwork can also be a hand-woven basket or a beautiful natural fibre broom - attractive as well as functional.
Tell us more about your rugs.
We have a L'eau rug as the main feature in our living room. It has been awesome for the boys to play on, and brings so much comfort and grounding to our main floor. It's cream but because it alternates knots with weaving, a visual wave-like texture is created. It's super easy to care for and I vacuum it daily because I always seem to have the vacuum in my hand.
In Guy's room we have a simple cream-based rug with a brown diamond lattice pattern. This was the first Moroccan rug I purchased in 2018, and was the beginning of this exciting business journey I have been on ever since. For this reason alone I will have it forever!
For Carmelo's room I stuck with the Amirah checkerboard rug which feels fun and cozy for his space.
In our master bedroom we have the flat weave Bohème rugs on either side of our bed and a one-off Berber designed rug that was gifted to me by a weaver who I used to work with. It's colourful and unique. I love it.
Who has inspired you lately?
I love following Julie O'Rourke of Rudy Jude Clothing, a mother of two in Maine who is always creating. It is inspiring watching others bring ideas and projects to life with their children.
Cláudia Varjão founder of ARCHI Interior and Beyond - based out of Portugal and Brazil has a great design gift. Her aesthetic really speaks to me as I long to create a Mediterranean inspired living space.
And I honestly admire all of the other entrepeneurial mums I know out there who are juggling so many things with grace, ingenuity and flexibility.
A few personal shout-outs include:
Brittanie Campbell: Realtor and co-owner of Legacy Custom Flooring - mother of 3, is forever hustling and creating special memories with her loved ones.
Jaclyn Rinehart - is a mama with baby 2 on the way, interior designer, hair and makeup artist and entrepeneur working to create spaces that complement our lifestyle, by improving the harmony and flow of energy in our homes through design and organization.
On my roof top garden, cucumbers decorate the walls.
The raha roho mission:
We support the heritage and traditions of Moroccan artisans who make their communities vibrant.
Tell us a little bit about how raha roho came to be ...
Six months later I returned to Morocco to meet and spend time with the women weaving the rugs in their homes. This experience left me feeling awed and keen to share their stories with the world. I had so many great ideas but I felt stuck in how to bring my ideas to life. Before this trip, my whole career experience was in health care as an pediatric intensive care registered nurse. As an entrepeneur and visionary, Val really encouraged me (and still does) to take a leap of faith and try something new. So with excitement, many nerves and a baby on the way, the genesis of raha roho came to be.
And by the way, what does raha roho even mean ??
In Arabic, raha means to relax, to be comfortable. If you’ve ever met me, you’ll know I like to create comfort in all senses of the word. From creating cozy environments, to engaging in warm, supportive relationships: if I’m not comfortable, I’m not relaxed.
roho is meant to be a fun but meaningful play on words. First and foremost, it’s the phonetic spelling of rojo, which translates to red in Spanish. Given Spain’s historic influence in Morocco, Spanish remains one of the top three spoken languages of the country, especially in the north. Geographically, Morocco and Spain are closely tied by both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines, separated by only 14 kilometers along the strait of Gibraltar.
Moroccan textiles aren’t made with just simple aesthetics in mind: The colors have purpose. Red represents life and happiness. In Morocco, even the earth is red. Marrakech is referred to as the “red city”.
And there’s another reason why I like the word roho. It immediately makes me think of the word “boho”, a style I really dig and a key element of the bohemian style is comfort.
And there you have it... raha roho!
Finish this sentence: “I am happy when…”
I have space to create.
One example is my roof top garden (below).
The Swiss chard and peppers tone in with the Moroccan theme on my roof top garden.
And here are a few final shots of my sons and their rooms.
Details include hand embroidered animals from our last trip to Mexico, a set of vintage Beatrix Potter books from Val's aunt Erica and an old cuff-link box from Guy's great grandfather.
I loved reading this!! Bravo on all your hard work, creativity, commitment, passion- and parenting!
You’ve tied it all together in such an inspiring way!
So proud of you!