We first visited Essaouira in 2005 and it very quickly got under our skin. We bought, renovated and rebuilt Dar 91 in stages. Wahed opened in 2006, with Zhuzh and Tlata following in 2010.
In 2011 we set up Project 91, a UK-registered charity which aims to help young people and women in Essaouira improve their education and job prospects. Examples of our work include free adult literacy and language classes; funding for vocational training; and small grants to local families to help them keep their children in the education system. The Project 91 charity shop is on Rue Chbanat, just opposite Dar 91; here we sell clothes donated through our Leave Your Wardrobe in Morocco campaign with 100% of the profits going to the charity.
On the ground floor of Dar 91 is Mashi Mushki (in the local dialect, ‘no problem’), our gallery. Here we sell local art, textiles, carpets, bags, jewellery, scarves and other handmade goods. We give a minimum of 10% of the profits of Dar 91 and Mashi Mushki to Project 91, each year.
In 2015 we opened Dar 91 in the Desert.