As a child I loved lots of things - painting, reading, drawing outfits in my sketchbook, making up stories, and most of all, exploring. One afternoon, I found myself rummaging through various closets in my family's house, looking for something to pique my interest. I often would go into my mother's closet where I would find her vintage costume jewelry and lipsticks that I would put on, imagining what it would be like to be a grown-up. But this particular day I decided to explore my dad's closet instead. In it, along with his neatly hung button up shirts and slacks, was a leather backpack with hand-embroidered designs that caught my attention. It looked a little beat up, but other than a worn out strap, it was still intact. In it were remnants of class notes and geometric drawings. The torn out pages from notebooks all had the same grid-like pattern that was common in notebooks used in Moroccan schools.  Intrigued by this new find, I decided to ask my dad about it. "I've had this bag for a very long time," he said smiling. I was in awe of this magical bag that seemed to withstand the years of being carried around across continents, states, and cities. It had withstood travel from it's place of origin, a small corner of an outdoor market in Morocco, to California, to Dubai. I decided that year that the next time I traveled to Morocco, I wanted a bag like my dad's. 

Fast forward 12 years, after acquiring a few leather bags of my own, I found myself counting down the days to another trip to Morocco. As a 23 year old looking to start my first entrepreneurial venture, the first idea that came to mind was sharing the beautiful leather backpacks that I had been first introduced to in my dad's closet with other people. Once I arrived in Morocco, I spent an afternoon in the outdoor market (Souk) in Rabat where I walked by the stalls with vibrant sights, smells, and sounds. My dad held onto my hand tightly as we wove in and out of crowds and finally made it to the stall where his friend sat, surrounded by the backpacks and handbags he had had hand dyed, stitched, and embossed. I inhaled the familiar smell of leather, and searched through shelves of different bags, each unique in their size, design, and color. I wondered what stories the new owners of these leather bags would have to tell and if they too, like my dad, would travel the world, learn new languages, meet new people, and expand their horizons, all while holding on to pieces of their cultural heritage.

Safiya Bouhouch