What if you can make a business of your two favorite things in life? For Sandra (27) this is reality. She combines her love of shopping and travelling like no other.
During the summer of 2014, Sandra fell in love with Morocco and especially with some cushions she found in a village just on the outskirts of the dessert. She begged the owner to sell them to her, but he refused. That was the beginning of a massive search throughout Morocco and guess what: she managed to find the cushions during that same trip. Sandra brought them back to Amsterdam, where friends started to ask her: why don’t you go back and get some more?
That’s when this big business adventure started. Now Sandra owns The Souks: a web shop that sells the most wonderful carpets, cushions (yes, those cushions!) and all other great treasures she finds in Morocco and brings back home.
When you go to Morocco for business, do you go on your own?
“Sometimes I do, sometimes a take a friend with me. I’m very cautious people don’t see me as a tourist. I always wear black clothes and never bring plastic bags with me. If I buy something, like flip-flops or so, I just toss them in my leather tote bag. Otherwise shop owners tend to cling on you and they won’t leave you alone.”
Is it difficult to bring all this Moroccan goodies to the Netherlands?
“Well, it depends. I like to buy and sell vintage stuff. It’s hard to find sometimes, but I know where to go now. I have different addresses I go to like, for example, in the Atlas Mountains. I contact some shop owners via Whatsapp. Others I can’t contact and I just hope I bump into them while I’m there.”
How would you describe your interior style?
“Although I’m really the less is more kind of type when we talk fashion, I really like to experiment with color to when it comes to my interior. I like to describe my home as an organized mess.”
What kind of rugs do you have back home?
“I have three carpets myself: a vintage Beni Ouarain and two Ourika rugs. The Beni Ouarain is very special to me: it’s a white carpet with a little blue and brown. Those colors are not commonly used and that makes it special. The other two are for sale, actually. I like my house to be a kind of showroom by itself.”
What’s a great hotspot would you would recommend to anyone who’s planning a trip to Morocco?
“I always fly to Marrakech first before I go to the Atlas Mountains for business. Marrakech is a magic place with a lot of cool clubs and bars. I like to have lunch in Nomad, diner in Le Jardin and drinks at café des Epices. Also a new hotspot in town is La Familia close to the Bahia Palace, it’s a great place for for lunch.”
What are your plans for the future?
“I would like to focus more on collaborations in Morocco and would get more Moroccan women involved directly in the process itself. Helping the local community is what inspires me most.”
What are your top tips for buying carpets?
#1 “Don’t buy rug that’s too small, think big. We all tend to buy a carpet the same size as our couch. But that’s definitely not necessary.”
#2 “Try to invest in a carpet you really like and will last for years. It’s easy to buy a rug at Ikea or another store, but try to choose quality over quantity. A lot of people don’t have a clue what a real handmade Berber carpet costs. It takes over 280 hours to make a Berber carpet and it needs up to twenty kilograms of wool. Those kind of carpets can’t be cheap.”
#3 “A lot of people like to choose a ‘safe’ carpet when it comes to color. Why not go for a bright colored rug with a great print? Don’t be scared and try it.”