Get to know raha roho
raha roho came to life after Joy travelled to Morocco in March 2018. She fell in love with the original handicrafts and textiles, the sun-drenched colours, the intense aroma of hot mint tea – but most of all, she was captivated by the people. Joy wanted to learn more about the artisans and the lives behind each unique piece that she discovered in the markets. Each carpet seemed to tell a story; the materials had meaning woven into them.
Six months later Joy returned to Morocco to meet and spend time with the women weaving the carpets in their homes. This experience left her feeling awed and keen to share their stories with the world.
A lot of this story was made possible because of a dear friend Adnan, who Joy met on her first trip. Over time, Adnan became Joy’s “Jack of all trades” on the ground in Morocco. He worked to source the cooperative and initiate a relationship with the artisans. Adnan also took close care of Joy and helped to translate conversations and agreements between the Moroccans along the journey. All of this was done while driving together along open Moroccan highways, listening to Arabic pop music, and talking about each other’s dreams.
FOUNDER JOY WITH PARTNERS AND WEAVERS AISHA AND FATIMA
So what does raha roho 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.
raha roho partners with a women’s cooperative in the mid Atlas region of Morocco. This cooperative is owned and operated by Zohra and her husband Mohamed, who have four children.
Why have we chosen to partner with them?
To financially support the women and families working with our cooperative. Many of these women are illiterate
To create teamwork between cooperative members as most women work on their carpets together to foster community – and develop their local economy
To teach and train new women to become weavers thereby giving them agency when it comes to directing their own lives and affairs.
raha roho is a sustainable import business that supports the heritage and traditions of Moroccan artisans who make their communities vibrant.
What materials make our rugs? Your rug contains only two materials – a “spine” of cotton and tens of thousands of knotted strands of wool.
How is each rug made? Once our weaver has created the rug’s spine at the cooperative, she takes it home and re-assembles it on her own loom. She then rolls the bundles of wool into balls to prepare for the hand knotting process. The rug is started upsidedown and the weaver sits behind the loom to create the design in mirrored-image. Depending on the design for the rug, the weaver may follow a simple hand drawn picture or work from her imagination. Many weavers have children and families so they may only spend a few hours a day at their looms, thus taking up to two months to complete a single piece.
Where does the wool come from? The wool used in our rugs is sheared from living sheep to guarantee the strongest and best quality. It is then taken to a local business that works in partnership with our cooperative to clean, process, and prepare it for use. Each weaver is given enough wool by the cooperative to complete one rug.
What happens next? Once your rug is finished, the artisan delivers it to the cooperative and receives payment based on the size and complexity of each rug’s design.Wages are predetermined between the cooperative and the artisan to ensure both parties are respected and honoured for their work. The cooperative then contacts raha roho to arrange shipment to customers throughout the world.