Our Story

MY JOURNEY FROM A NEUROSCIENTIST TO DESIGNING MOROCCAN HANDMADE CRAFTS

I was born in Marrakech, a mesmerising, magical city world renown for its touristic attractions. At the age of 18, I went to France to pursue my studies and after seven years undergoing higher degree studies in the field of Biological Sciences and then Neurosciences (Brain Sciences), I decided to come to Newcastle, Australia to do a PhD in how the immune system communicates with the brain to modulate pain.

In 2016, I was awarded a fellowship from the Australian Academy of Sciences to pursue my post-doctoral studies in how the stress changes our brain structure and function at RIKEN, Japan. After two years investigating how early life stress change brain morphology and behaviour later in life, and with the arrival of my second child, Aaron, I was well aware of the importance of parental presence next to their children when they are young and I decided to have a break from academia and focus my energy on my kids.

Click here to hear my interview with Dan from ABC Newcastle detailing the motivations behind the switch in my career

In November, I created Koutchi together with my brother Kamal back in Marrakech. We work closely with artisans to bring the best Moroccan artisanal crafts to our Australian customers.

My experience overseas taught me that no matter what you do you have to implicate three components: the heart (loving what you do, be passionate about the things you do), the hand (you need to get your hands dirty by working hard), and the brain (work in a smart way). I believe traveling is also a great way to discover new cultures, languages, and food. Living overseas for almost two decades made me proud of where I come from and I want to introduce this rich, fascinating culture to my second home, Australia.

I hope you will enjoy your shopping experience at Koutchi.
If you need anything, please get in touch!

Yours sincerely,

Ihssane Zouikr

Fair-Trade

Our products are not factory-made, they are meticulously handmade by talented and passionate artisans who have been making Moroccan crafts over many generations using pre-industrial techniques.

We have over 20 years experience dealing with artisans in Morocco. We design most of our products and we frequently discuss new design with our artisans over a freshly made Moroccan tea. We monitor every stage of the production of our premium goods to ensure that our highest quality standards are always met. However, because this is handcrafted, some “imperfections” might be apparent and that’s the beauty of handmade crafts.

The doom plant used in our baskets is eco-friendly and sustainable and the leather goods we used in our products have been obtained from animals that have been treated ethically and respectfully ensuring that every part of the animal is used. The Moroccan leather is one of the finest in the world known for its high quality. Our leather goods are coloured in tanneries in Fes and Marrakech and artisans are still tanning the leather using the same techniques as the ones developed in the 11th century. They use natural colourants. For instance, red poppies, blue indigo, orange henna, and yellow saffron. Dyes are mixed with alum stone which helps the set of the colours. Then the skin is dried on the roof before being cut into pieces to make bags, ottomans, belts and other products.

At Koutchi, we strive in having an ethical, sustainable and a fair-trade business that respect not only the artisans but also the Moroccan tradition as a whole. Our vision is to bring this rich culture into Australia.

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