Meet sisters Zineb and Rim, aka Moroccan Birds: the jewelry brand that celebrates Moroccan ancestral aesthetics and techniques. Inspired by their mother and other powerful women, the sisters create meaningful collections that aim to lift up and showcase the talents and stories of the local makers who handcraft each piece.
We love (and share) their commitment to craftsmanship, empowerment and storytelling – which is why we’ve teamed up with them on one of our first Random Acts of Kindness (more details coming soon). For now, we caught up with the pair to chat about craftsmanship, the creative process, and how they’re reinterpreting Moroccan silver and kaftans in their contemporary collections.
Where did the idea for Moroccan Birds come from?
Moroccan Birds was born in 2018 out of our shared love for jewelry and appreciation for our home country’s crafts. We’ve always shared a common vision for our brand: to empower local craftspeople and showcase their amazing know-how worldwide.
Can you walk us through your creative process?
The first step of the creative process is a brainstorm to find the inspiration for our upcoming collection. We’re greatly inspired by Moroccan traditional tribal signs, which allows us to create sophisticated collections with a strong aesthetic that hints at the brand’s origins. Zineb then draws each piece of the collection. After that, Rim closely works with the artisans to help them understand the new designs and to find out if they will be possible to create.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
We mainly draw our inspiration from Morocco and Amazigh culture. For our first collection that launched in 2018, we were inspired by the fibula and hamsa, two traditional and meaningful signs known to have protective power over the wearer. For our other collections, we were inspired by different elements of Moroccan culture, from pendants representing Moroccan doors and earrings inspired by traditional mosaics to accessories inspired by the kaftan.
What’s the importance of craftsmanship in your community?
We work with two communities of artisans: silver craftsmen and tailors. Our silver pieces are handmade by artisans located in Southern Morocco, a region well-known for its silver craftsmanship since the 1500s. Unfortunately, high volumes of cheap manufactured jewelry are flooding the market, which makes it very difficult for remote craftsmen to make a living from their savoir-faire. While traveling in the south of Morocco, we had the chance to meet a lot of these craftsmen, who struggle but keep fighting because they value their inheritance. They believe they must perpetuate their knowledge and keep transmitting it to future generations. We feel deeply concerned about helping these artisans and empowering them, while preserving their legacy and showcasing it to the world. That’s why we produce 100% Moroccan, artisanal, and supportive jewels, while ensuring that our artisans work in good conditions with fair remuneration.
Meanwhile, our skalli thread pieces are handmade in Casablanca, a city well-known for the variety of its fabrics. Skalli threads are gold or silver yarns used to embroider the typical Moroccan dress, the kaftan. The artisans we work with are tailors who sew kaftans with the finesse the task requires. In kaftans you’ll usually find the “sfifa”, braided trimmings of skalli yarns, the “akad”, the buttons to close the kaftan, the “serifa”, to adjust the belt, and the “tasaab”, to adorn the belt’s clasp. We revisit these fabrics in innovative and fun accessories such as chokers, headbands, bracelets, belts, phone holders, glasses holders and the newly launched mask holders.
How has your brand been impacted by Covid-19?
In 2019, we wanted to target mostly B2B. We started doing international trade shows in Paris and New York, got great feedback and wanted to focus our future strategy here. Unfortunately, Covid-19 meant all the trade shows were cancelled for the second part of 2020 and first part of 2021. For the launch of our latest collection, we decided to pivot and focus on online strategies and B2C.
What is your favorite place in Morocco?
Our favorite place is Marrakech by far. We both grew up in Casablanca, but our father and his family are from Marrakech. From a young age, we went to Marrakech almost every weekend to visit our grandparents. There’s something indescribable about the city: the colors, the mix between tradition and modernity. It’s a place where we often go to get inspired.
What's your skincare philosophy?
Less is more. As active young women, we don’t have that much time to spend on our skincare routine, but we know that it’s very important to take care of your skin. That’s why we have a straightforward three-step skincare routine that we apply everyday.
What is the best beauty advice you've ever received?
Moisturizing is key.
Finally, what's next for Moroccan Birds?
Use this unusual time to dream up and create new collections.Follow Moroccan Birds’ journey on Instagram at @moroccanbirdsjewelry – and to be the first to know more about how we’re working with our Spotlight community of creators (as well as exclusive offers, product drops and more), connect with us @whind.