We are often asked “Why should I buy from Benisouk”, We give a short answer, followed by the long answer.
Benisouk – It’s all in the name.
Names are important. When we name our children, that will last their lives and those names will become associated with the people who get to know them, and just the mention of that name can conjure up associations and feelings. For ourselves, if someone forgets our name it can be an uncomfortable experience. Names are the most important words we have in this world – which is why we think the Roman Alphabet capitalizes them.
No less important are the names of our businesses. I have a friend who named his business “Damien Rhys Imaginarium”, after his son. Outside the office is a big yellow sign declaring “Damien Rhys Imaginarium” with a picture of a family together – a rather comical representation of them. It’s a demonstration of the importance of his family to him. Damien Rhys is the name of my friend’s son, a reminder to him that every effort he makes is to give his son the opportunity and means to make the life choices he wants as he grows up, as well as having fun on the way. “Imaginarium” - that was because Damien would play and take classes in the office space, being his “Imaginarium”.
Yes, names are important. What is in the name Benisouk? Beni or Béni is a transliteration of Banu, an Arabic tribal progenitor meaning "the sons of" or "children of". This is why “Beni” is the prefix at the start of many of the names of the Mountain tribes of the Middle Atlas – such as Beni Ourain, Beni M’rirt or Beni M’guild.
“Souk” means market. So at the basic level Benisouk is the marketplace where the Beni Tribes bring their wares to sell to the wider world. It also is a reference to the founding fathers of Benisouk, who were rug merchants embracing the online world to change the way Rug Trading is done to give more to the communities they work within. There is an ancient way of thought where Merchants see themselves as leaders in their communities, bringing the wares of their communities to the wider market to sell and then buy the goods needed back home. In the way Beni can be used to confer respect to the tribes and their families, it also confers respect to the souk as being the gateway to trade and interacting with the outside world.
30 years ago the Moroccan Rug Industry was based on travelling merchants, roaming the mountains to find tribes to buy their rugs in exchange for the manufactured goods of the city. In the big towns souks would be held, where the Berber craftswomen who made the rugs would come to sell them once or twice a year to then then buy supplies with. Depending on the skill of the seller, they might get a little more than what they would have from the travelling merchants. In time, women only markets emerged to secure a better price for the artisan families, but still the existence of middle merchants always meant that the money had to be spread more widely.
Benisouk decided that by selling directly online, they could give the artisan families a greater share of the value of their creations so they could afford the goods to make their lives more comfortable. Benisouk goes directly to the village communities to trade rugs for manufactured goods and money, and that connection with a place as well as a person allows Benisouk to invest in community projects from the profits it was able to make. It also allows for a feedback mechanism, whereby Benisouk can ask the artisan families to make a particular design of a rug for a custom order – something not often possible in the anonymity of the marketplace, as well as tooling them to allow them to make larger rugs.
The use of the progenitor “Beni” also connotes that this enterprise are for all of the rug making tribes, and not a named tribe. Indeed, as Benisoukas grown it has allowed it to reach more and more tribes and contribute to their communities and livelihoods. And why do we do it? Because we are tribal leaders, responsible for the well being and livelihoods of many families, encouraging them during the good times and supporting them through the less fortunate. We don’t see “wealth” as a personal thing we own, but rather something we become custodians of, to share among our communities to support our culture so that it can thrive in the future as it has done in the past.
There is a shared passion for the rugs we sell, with those who make them, and those who buy them. So why should you buy from Benisouk? It’s all in the name. Visit Benisouk.com and see our wide collection of Moroccan rugs and learn more about our story.