Zahra Daoudi grew up in a family of artisans. Her grandfather sold leather skins at traditional Moroccan markets, and her mother designed, made and sold clothing. Born in Fes, Morocco and growing up among the colorful markets — the vibrant fruits, woven rugs, intricate tile work — Daoudi came to appreciate handmade and unique products. After going to school and majoring in International Business, Daoudi attended design school in Morocco to fuel her passions.
“I like to mix fabrics with leather,” Daoudi says of the bags she now makes — a fitting representation of her family’s work.
Inspired by her travels in Thailand, she also started to incorporate beadwork, whileMoroccan influences in her designs.
“In Morocco, we do have a lot of mountains, which means we do have a lot of stones as well. Everything is hand-beaded, and there is a bit of leather in the jewelry as well.”
No matter what she makes, whether it’s bags, shoes, luggage, jewelry or clothes, Daoudi strives to make her designs be distinctly her own through her cohesive aesthetic.
“You’ll see the same idea in the collection,” Daoudi says. “When you see a piece of my work, you’ll know this is Zahra’s work.”
Daoudi had the opportunity to take some of her designs to England to represent makers of Morocco. She used Moroccan and Malian fabrics and Singhalese wax to showcase the region’s handicrafts. While there, she met her future husband and subsequently moved to D.C., where she taught French and continued to create products, before deciding to formally sell her designs and create her brand: Jasmine Designs. Daoudi is now working to solidify her website and social media presence.
Still, as she works in America, she sources her fabrics from women artisans who weave in the Atlas Mountains of Marrakesh, Morocco. Daoudi handpicks the patterns she likes best from them. Having researched the dangers of fast fashion, Daoudi always planned on avoiding wholesalers.
“The artisans are business partners who became friends,” Daoudi says. “I wanted to pay the woman directly, to power her work, to feed her family, to make her feel like she’s getting paid a good amount of money.”
When she has the chance to travel to Morocco for the fabrics, she also sources her leather from sellers there. But in America, she buys leather — goat skin and cow hide — from suppliers in Arizona and Texas. For the beads, she travels to gem shows in Arizona and Colorado, and maintains a committment to empowering American sellers.
“In the future, I want to travel to countries where the handicraft is very heavy, where people really like to make things by hand. Each country has its own touch, its own signature.”
For some of her past creations, Daoudi used a Guatemalan rug for the fabric part of her bags. She also inherits principles from countries that value making something new out of something old, instead of throwing away perfectly good products.
“I love to work with Moroccan women, but I am open to work with any woman who makes from all over the world.”
Daoudi will always have a soft spot for leather, the first market product that helped her see her potential. Now, as a staple textile in many of her different products, she’s come to value how unique it’s made her brand.
“It’s a nice feeling when you come up with something unique, especially when a customer comes up and says something like, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this before.’”
Daoudi’s care for the world, for makers, and for handmade, unique products shows through in every aspect of Jasmine Designs. Her work empowers people instead of corporations, and it all started in a market setting, among makers of all sorts.
Currently, she can be found at the National Landing Market, where she is excited about the community and vibe of the sellers and customers. To meet Zahra Daoudi, stop by the market this Saturday, July 24, and enjoy all the unique, carefully crafted, colorful products she has to offer.
To learn more about Daoudi’s designs and see some of the Jasmine Designs, follow her on Instagram @jasmine_design1 and be on the lookout for her upcoming website.
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