Up in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, five hours’ drive to the southeast of Marrakech, a Berber woman labors passionately over a rug that would take anywhere from two to seventeen months to complete. The woman uses one hundred percent sheep wool and dyes derived from natural ingredients such as indigo, alfalfa, pomegranate, and henna; spins the yarn by hand; and knots the fabric with the aid of a wooden loom and hammer comb.
This woman is part of a Berber women’s weaving association known as Association Anezal, which crafts these rugs for Salam Hello. Founded by Mallory Solomon, Salam Hello procures its rugs directly from the women, buying at the initial asking price. For Solomon, who splits her time between Brooklyn and Marrakech, this business model aims to push back against established models whereby male brokers haggle with the weavers to buy rugs at a fraction of the initial quote and inflate the price in city centers like Marrakech, where American retailers source most of their rugs. In addition to paying the weavers a fair price, Salam Hello reinvests ten percent of its profits in the local communities and furnish the weavers with the tools they need to practice their craft.
Solomon first visited Marrakech in 2018 and since then meets with the weavers face to face, buying blankets, pillow covers, and rugs individually.
Wool is believed to bring luck in the Berber tradition, Solomon explained to Harper’s Bazaar. The Berber people have been hand-weaving textiles since 600 BCE, incorporating the various colors of Morocco and imbuing them with matriarchal symbols designed to ward off evil. Association Anezal weavers are continuing a tradition passed down through generations.