North Africa comes to sunny Somerset
Saharan Treasures is paying its first visit to Frome Show this year. Founder Carolina Di Gregorio reveals why she is sure the show’s visitors will be as excited about the Moroccan products she sells as she is
Tell us about Saharan Treasures
It was born from the passion of all things Moroccan. Morocco is a vibrant, colorful and culturally diverse society whose characteristics have manifested themselves in beautiful craft arts, textiles, homewares, furniture and jewellery. Over the past few years and during many trips to this country I have been fortunate to immerse myself in this culture and make valuable connections with the people who create this art work. From leather manufacturers in Fez to carpet makers in the Atlas Mountains, iron workers of Marrakesh and the jewellers of Paradise Valley, I now have access to the direct source of these beautiful products. Part of my business ethic is based in sustaining the ancient Berber traditions and family generated skills which are in danger of disappearing as urbanisation claims many of the younger generations of craftsmen and women.
When was Saharan Treasures founded…
The business was born only a few months ago during a trip to Tamraght, a small village near Agadir, with my other half Greg. We are both travellers and we fell in love with this beautiful country. We had a ‘eureka’ moment and decided to start not one but two businesses at the same time. The other one, ‘livelifemorocco’ is a Berber villa which we are building in the village of Tamarout, to host British travellers.
I have always wanted to travel for work and this time I can really do that. Also I love Moroccan and especially Berber people. They have great values and it’s a pleasure doing business with them.
Where is your company based?
I run my business from home.
Where do you source your products?
I go to the source of all the products in Morocco, so that means wherever a product is made, I go there. Until now I have sourced from Fez, Marrakech, the Atlas Mountains, Tamarout village and Agadir.
Tell us about your product range
At the moment we stock Pashmina scarves, Leather pouffes and bags, pottery and ceramics, some wood crafts, lanterns and beautiful Berber carpets. The stock varies depending on where we go and what we find. Everything we sell is one-of-a-kind.
What is the most unusual product you sell?
Probably the wood crafts. They are made by artisans in the village of Tamarout and they are made with cedar wood. They make practically everything with this wood and at the moment we stock a mini tagine to store jewellery or coins or whatever you fancy, as well as a lovely dice set.
What would you like to be able to sell in the future?
Definitely bigger furniture, but for now we are specialising in products that are easier to import.
What have customers been saying about your products?
We’ve had people already buying from our website (www.saharantreasures.com) and they thoroughly enjoyed the process. With us it’s all about the story of an object. It’s not just about the purchase, but what comes with it, and also what community you are helping at the same time.
Tell us about yourself
In 2009 I left my psychology studies in Rome to move to London to pursue a theatre career. I graduated from ArtsEd School of London with a BA in musical theatre and soon after started working in Les Misérables in the West End, where I stayed for two years. In the meantime, apart from a few other shows, I kept my passion for travelling and for Morocco alive by visiting the country many times.
As well as my theatre career, I have always been interested in sales and customer service. This has brought me to work in many high-end restaurants, specialising in front of house duties, dealing with customers and organising large events.
Why are you excited about coming to Frome Show?
I have always loved county shows. It is such an exciting thing for someone coming from a big city like Rome. I love the atmosphere and interacting with the public. I can’t wait to introduce Saharan Treasures and see how we go. I also have a big passion for cheese, I have to admit…
How will the show’s visitors know that they have found your stand?
Look for our big banner with our logo, plus two tables filled with ceramics, as well as some rails with scarves and bags. We will also have some lovely leather pouffes on the floor. We can’t wait to meet everyone.
Find Saharan Treasures on Facebook and on Twitter (@info_Saharan).