Atlas Wool Supply Co. began as an Anou initiative to address the lack of quality, non-toxic yarn for weavers in Morocco. Today, the company is expanding to offer a variety of wool supplies for weavers and fiber art and craft enthusiasts around the world.
The wool for our hand spun yarn is sourced from shepherds in the Middle and High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. We look for shepherds who maintain healthy flocks of breed-specific indigenous sheep, so our yarns are made from 100% Moroccan wool. Our team supervises shearing and gathers the wool to distribute to spinners across the Anou community. Once spun, the yarn is brought to the Anou headquarters where it is dyed with people and planet-friendly products. Throughout, artisans utilize proprietary technology to track products and orders as they make their way through the system and to our customers.
Atlas Wool Supply always pays above market price for raw wool and well above minimum wage for wool processing, spinning, and dye work to ensure valued employment opportunities for those working in the artisan sector.
Supply products and accessories are crafted by artisans from the Anou community and can be found both here and on the Anou web site.
There are many faces behind Atlas Wool Supply Co. Visit our blog to meet some of the people behind our yarn. Artisans from across the Anou community are given the opportunity to come to headquarters and work in the dye house for 2-week long rotations. This system gives everyone a chance to earn an income from dye work, so they don't feel the pressure to work with middlemen. It also gives them an opportunity to learn about computer and mobile technology as well as business systems, thereby increasing their ability to operate independently as entrepreneurs.
The following artisan leaders are instrumental in the running of Atlas Wool Supply Co. as well as in training other artisans in dye work and mobile/computer technology:
Brahim El Mansouri: Brahim is the president of Association Ighrem and has been working at its wood shop for over 10 years. In addition to carving, Brahim has worked extensively with artists and artisans throughout Morocco by organizing trainings on Excel, the Internet, and computer skills. Because of his ability to work with artists and artisans of all backgrounds, Brahim has become the director of Anou in Morocco and leads all the artisan trainings. Brahim is married and has three daughters - Raja, Yasmina, and Safae.
Halima Amami: Halima was born in Sidi Yahya Ou Youssef. She finished primary school and learned to weave from her mother when she was 14 years old. After both of her parents passed away, she has had huge responsibilities at home where she lives with her siblings. She joined Association Zaouia because it's the only way she can earn money as a female weaver in her region. She hopes to have a better income to cover the treatment expenses of her ill sister. She wants to visit the city of Agadir one day and also wants to buy a computer. Her favorite color is pistachio. When she's free, she likes to walk around and go to a special place called Tatrout.
Kenza Oulaghda: Kenza was born in Ait Hamza and has played an active role in the village’s development since her youth. She was involved in multiple associations that focused on Ait Hamza’s development until she decided to start Association Tithrite. Kenza is now the president of Association Tithrite and is driving its vision forward. She plans to use all the money she earns from her sales to fund the association's future development projects. In addition to her work with Tithrite, she serves as vice-president for the Moroccan Association of Artisans.
Mustapha Chaouai: As one of the founding members of Association Nahda, Mustapha is the glue that holds the association together. Frequently, he can be found gathering all the members of the association for meetings or other events in the community. Though he is an expert metal worker by trade, he is heavily committed to organizing the women in his village in order to empower them to become financially independent. Mustapha is also one of the founding members of Morocco's National Association of Artisans and has traveled extensively to craft fairs across the country. Mustapha is married to Hanan, an association member, and has one son and one daughter.
Rabha Akkaoui: Hidden away deep in the Eastern High Atlas Mountains of Morocco is the wind swept village of Tounfite – the home of Cooperative Chorouk. Tounfite is a fitting name as it means hidden, or unseen, in the local Tamazight dialect. Rabha Akkoui, founder of Chorouk, sadly felt that the word Tounfite also defined the women of her village. In the fall of 2009, Rabha set out to change the fate of women in Tounfite and founded Cooperative Chorouk. The meaning of Chorouk - the first ray of light that turns the darkness of night into dawn - stems from Rabha’s vision of creating a better future for women in Tounfite.
Rachida Ousbigh: Rachiha was born in 1988 in Khenifra, she has two brothers and one sister. She has the equivalent of an eleventh grade education. When she decided to stop her studies she pursued her creative endeavors via jewelry making. She started her work with the Women's Cooperative of Khenifra in 2008, making handmade jellaba button jewelry. In Rachida’s words, her work as an artisan has opened up doors to the world. Rachida has worked closely with various Peace Corps Volunteers through the years and has had the opportunity to travel twice to the United States to participate in international arts festivals. Rachida started working as an Anou artisan leader in August of 2017 and during her time with Anou the seeds for Cooperative Tiglmamin were planted. Rachida is the current president of the cooperative and the beating heart of this family group. Rachida hopes to increase the opportunities not only for herself but for her cooperative through weaving. She would like to share the products and traditions from their region with people around the world.
The following people provide technology, product, marketing, and outreach support:
Dan Driscoll: Serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Ait Bouguemez Valley of Morocco, Dan Driscoll grew frustrated when he learned that the carvers he worked with remained poor even after selling to fair-trade organizations. While working with the carvers, they showed him that the only way to grow would be to ensure that they were able to sell their work independently without middlemen. As technology transformed the Ait Bouguemez valley (Dan had internet, but no running water in his mud house), he decided to train the carvers to sell on Etsy and eBay. The carvers had so much success selling online that they poured the excess profits of their sales into the local community. Today, the carvers continue to self-fund their own solutions to local problems and have built a thriving community in the valley. For Dan, this represented true sustainable development. Etsy and Ebay began as good solutions for the carvers. However, illiteracy, lack of confidence, and geographic isolation prevented the vast majority of Moroccan artisans from being able to benefit from these platforms. As a result, Dan and Brahim El Mansouri, the president of the woodcarving association in Ait Bouguemez, teamed up to begin building the community of Anou.
Irene Waggener: Originally from Texas, Irene learned to knit from her grandmother when she was five and how to spin while at a textile conservation workshop in Peru. Morocco is currently her home where she is very glad to be exploring the world of fiber with Atlas Wool Supply Co. as a volunteer.
And, last but not least, Moon is our cheerleader who keeps things fun and entertaining.