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Diaspo #96 : Fatima Essahsah, telling the story of Morocco through jewelry

Born and raised in Amsterdam, Fatima Essahsah is a jewelry designer who started her line to tell the story of her Moroccan heritage. The young entrepreneur exhibits her work in Dutch museums, paying tribute to her Amazigh roots.

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Moroccan-Dutch jewelry designer Fatima Essahsah. / Ph. Daisy von Dutch

Storytelling takes a big part of her journey as a jewelry designer and a Moroccan-Dutch woman. Fatima Essahsah was born in Amsterdam to Moroccan parents from Al Hoceima. Growing up, the young woman felt that she had to answer questions about her identity, that brought Europe and Africa together.

«When I was a child I didn't get enough information about my heritage», Fatima told Yabiladi. The trips she made to her hometown, growing up, were short and packed with family meetings which is why she had not had the time to discover where her parents came from. This feeling shaped her path as a young entrepreneur in the Netherlands.

Before starting her first company at the age of 22, Fatima opted for social and cultural work at the university, which opened the door for her to learn about her Moroccan identity. «At uni, I did research on my background», said the designer, who then launched her jewelry line in 2014.

Fatima Essahsah, wearing one of the pieces she designed. / Ph. Daisy von DutchFatima Essahsah, wearing one of the pieces she designed. / Ph. Daisy von Dutch

«My brand is called Stones Stories, and it is all about Moroccan cultural heritage and the Amazigh culture», she proudly explained. Through her jewelry line, Fatima tells the story of her ancestors and exhibits her creations in Europe, via Dutch museums.

Road trips to Morocco

The idea of designing jewelry pieces crossed her mind when she was on a road trip in the North African Kingdom. She recalls that while visiting Marrakech, she stumbled upon eye-catching jewelry that combined culture, rituals and craftsmanship. But what intrigued her the most is the idea of showcasing the story behind these creations.

Her first jewelry collection embodied this idea. «It was very traditional, as I wanted it to be an introduction to how I am thinking as an artist, how I collect and design jewelry», Fatima said.

Ph. Daisy von DutchPh. Daisy von Dutch

The Moroccan-Dutch entrepreneur creates her jewelry following a very unique method. «I always start a collection by traveling to Morocco and going on road trips», she indicated, adding : «I never do anything in the Netherlands».

Her trips to the Kingdom work as inspiration sojourns and business meetings, as the pieces she designs are all handmade in Morocco. «I draw the whole collection myself and I work with a craftsman in Ourika (Marrakech region)», she said, stressing that all her designs are made out of old pieces.

«Stones Stories is a sustainable brand so I make sure that everything is handmade (…) it is some sort of recycling as we use old pieces to create new ones».

Fatima Essahsah

Embracing roots through fashion

Fatima who mainly exhibits her jewelry in Dutch museums is now working on her third collection. «It is going to be a love story between the West and Africa which says a lot about me and my identity», Fatima said.

In addition to her jewels, Fatima is collecting vintage kaftans that she uses in her exhibitions in the Netherlands. Her love for Moroccan vintage dresses has a deep and emotional story to it. «My mother passed away when I turned 10», Fatima recalls. «The situation of my family was different from the one of other Moroccan households in the Netherlands as my father refused to remarry after the death of my mother», she said.

However, Fatima was dying to have a kaftan from her deceased mother. «I was a little sad because my father donated all of my mother’s belongings, including her kaftans», she told Yabiladi. After purchasing a vintage kaftan during one of her trips to Morocco, Fatima managed to rediscover her late mother by wearing her jewelry on top of the Moroccan dress.

«After I posted a photo of myself wearing the kaftan with one of the pieces I designed, many museums reached out to me, telling me that they wanted the kaftan exhibited», she proudly recalled.

Selling her creations in the Netherlands and Europe, through her online shop and museum exhibitions, Fatima is planning to exhibit her work in the Dubai Fashion Week.

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