A few months back, I noticed something interesting that started happening when I would post certain kinds of photos on Instagram: I was repeatedly getting inquiries about where my clothes were from and who was making them.
"Where did you buy that dress? How can I get those bracelets? Who makes those baskets?"
This of course didn't matter much when I was still living in The States and shopping online at stores like ASOS or Topshop. But after leaving for my long-term journey through Africa, I knew my shopping style would have to change. I would no longer have the same access to those retailers, so I opted to start making my own clothes. After all, I would be traveling within Africa where there is no shortage of skilled tailors and seamstresses. 90% of the clothes I began to wear were not items I personally designed and had made just for me. Then there was the endless dilemma of constantly finding amazing market goods while exploring various rural communities but having no real home or space in my suitcase to keep them. Even though I had embraced living a minimal life (all my belongings can currently fit in 2.5 suitcases), my heart would always break when I had to leave gorgeous items behind. Especially because I knew their quality was exceptional.
Enter my friend Sarah D.
During a girl's trip to Morocco, she insisted I pay closer attention to the feedback I was getting on Instagram for the goods I had easy access to. As a businesswoman, it was easy for her to connect the dots: I'm traveling to places with unique goods and making effortless clothes while doing it. Win/win! But for me? I was skeptical. Who would buy clothes from me? I'm no fashion designer.
But she insisted. And encouraged. Then insisted again.
It was only then that I began to build some confidence in the idea (it also helped to put some feelers out on IG for good measure) and began researching how to make it possible. What items would I sell? Where would I source them from? How would I even ship the goods? Because if you know anything about Africa, you know shipping to or from any country within it is EXPENSIVE.
In spite of my fears and skepticism, I reminded myself that this was still my year of yes; so I decided to take on the challenge and power through it. The worst thing that could happen is that no would buy, which in life's grand scheme is not the end of the world. Something that once just an idea being casually discussed over drinks high above Marrakesh's medina, is now a very real terrifying (and exciting!) new project for me: Marché Spirited Pursuit. Let me formally introduce you...
A continuation of my global message and travel ethos, Marché is a digital concept store providing locally sourced goods that are 100% handcrafted. Everything from the custom effortless clothing inspired by my travels to the global market items I discover along the way. And even though it was born from Instagram inquiries, my vision for MSP now goes beyond aesthetics. As a social enterprise, we'll combine business with social responsibility.
Our mission is to build sustainable partnerships with artisans and vendors in rural communities worldwide by connecting them to new customers in our digital marketplace. By sourcing and producing all of our products ethically through fair trade principles, we seek to empower our partners and their communities through economic growth, while also celebrating and preserving their traditional skills and artisanal techniques.
I, along with my team, currently collaborate with local vendors and artisans in Senegal to extend the distribution of their products to a larger customer base, and hope to expand into several other countries such as Burkina Faso, Morocco, Ghana, and Zimbabwe. We will measure our success by the positive social and economic impact on their communities which benefits everyone from the driver that transports our goods to the team that processes and fulfills your orders. As a result, each purchase you make has a direct and positive impact on the lives of all the artisans, vendors, and partners we commission locally.
I can't lie to you though, this journey has been tough. I have had to climb challenging mountains in search of developing the logistics of it all. And in spite of every hurdle thrown at me on the way, I feel like I have finally reached the proverbial mountain top; and it feels damn good. I hope you'll get acquainted with my new baby and love her as much as I do.
To learn more about Marché SP, buy my featured dress and support our mission, shop via the button below.