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Waiting. I spend a lot of time waiting in Morocco. I wait for shops to open.  I wait for artisans to return from prayer.  I wait for lunch to be over so that I can get back to work.  I wait in medina traffic.  I wait for waiters in cafes to acknowledge me and come over to take my order.  I wait for taxis to stop on a rainy Friday night.  I wait for buses.  I wait for replies on emails and texts.  I wait outside post offices for late appointments.  And most of all, I wait for samples…I spend a lot of time on this one.  In fact, that’s exactly what I’m doing now at 8:41pm the night before my photo shoot.  I sometimes get caught up in the “faster, faster, faster” mentality I am used to coming from the big city.  I sometimes lose sight of what I’m really trying to accomplish as I attempt to rush the sample process.  Time is so precious and so limited but I know deep down that these crafts takes time.  It takes time to count the hand stitches that will eventually make up a beautiful embroidery.  It also takes time to create a pattern and cut the leather and fabric.  It takes time to experiment and achieve a new technique.  It takes time to get things right.  I often need to remind myself that each design is being crafted by the hands of one or sometimes several artisans.   So for all of the moments when I want to tear my hair out because I’ve “wasted” a day or haven’t accomplished all I thought I would, I receive a little work of art that reminds me that a little bit of patience (or waiting)  isn’t such a terrible thing.

The Breakup

Sometimes things get a little personal with my work.  I get too attached to designs. I say things I probably should keep to myself.  I have breakdowns that I often can’t control.  I hate to admit it, but occasionally I act out of desperation…lack of time and lack of proper resources sometimes makes a girl act desperately.  This is what happened last week.  I had to pull a project from one artisan to give to another.  In this case, it wasn’t a personal decision.  It was a business decision.  Was it difficult for me?  YES!  But it had to be done.  Was there misunderstanding?  YES!  But we worked it out.

When I pulled the project from Zakaria, he really took it personally.  The morning after I told him to stop, we were supposed to meet so that he could return the materials.  I thought this could and would be a smooth transaction but I was very wrong.  First of all, he made me wait for an hour outside the post office…remember, time is money and I can be quite impatient.  During that hour, I took on the role of advising everyone that approached the post office only to find it closed that the post office was closed due to a strike.  I guess the task kept my mind off of the fact that I had been waiting for an hour.

After several text messages and a phone call, Zakaria finally pulls up on his mobilette.  I knew I was in trouble when I saw the jumbo bags hanging off the handlebars and he wasn’t looking me in the face.  Clearly, he was the one taking it personally.  I tried to explain but it wasn’t getting through to him or I just wasn’t getting my point across.  He handed me my bags and we decided that tomorrow we would meet to have a proper discussion as outside the medina, in front of the post office, with people staring from all directions, was no place for this type of conversation.

Before he left he handed me the large yellow tote with a shopping bag attached to it and off he went.  Perfect…just how I wanted the morning to start off.  There I went with what felt like the heaviest bag ever as I walked back to where I was staying….good thing I wasn’t staying to far.  The bag was so heavy, I switched from left arm to right arm to just holding it like a sack.  I was once again the bag lady and I was so ready for it to be over.    I guess I could have taken a petit taxi but I was so close to home and that might have just added to the drama that I just decided to carry the bag home on my own.   (I seriously need to let go of that kind of thinking.)

What a relief it was to finally arrive to the apartment.  When I got inside and opened up the bag, I realized that the reason it was so incredibly heavy was because he had returned every single pattern, scrap of fabric, leather, tool, rivet, ruler, sample that I had given to him.  Geez, this was more serious than I thought!  He was really breaking up with me or maybe he thought I was breaking up with him….either way, this was not good.

The next day we met, Zakaria, Fatima, my amazing assistant, and me on a park bench along the street.  Random place for a business meeting but this is Morocco and as I learned a long time ago, anything goes.  In an hour and a half he shared his gripes about me, I shared mine and Fatima was in the middle to translate it all between Arabic, French and English.  Let me tell you, Zakaria had A LOT to say!

In the end, we decided to focus on his strengths and going forward we would be completely clear and honest about everything.  After the discussion, he meekly mentioned that he needed something he had returned to me.  I know it’s not nice, but I couldn’t help but smirk.  Apart from the smirking, I was also very happy to know that we were back in business.

 

 

or so that’s what they say and I would often get annoyed when I would hear those words but now that I am back in Marrakech, I think whoever said that may have had a point.

I have been back in Marrakech for 3 weeks and I’ve got to tell you, I was expecting many more breakdowns.  So far I have had 2 work related breakdowns and one of them was more my own little issue than because of anything actually happening to me.  I am going to be completely honest when I say that when I was living here, I broke down just about every day for one reason or another.  The reasons for my breakdown ranged from someone being difficult and not giving me what I asked for, someone harassing me all the way home, someone yelling at me in front of a shop full of customers, someone waiting until the last minute to tell me that they didn’t want to work with me anymore…and the list goes on and on.

I left Marrakech last June and there was no looking back.  I wanted out so badly!  I was sad, angry, frustrated, all those negatives you can think of.  What caused all these negatives you ask?  Well, for me it was the fact that my business was not working and I couldn’t quite figure out why.  I was so ready to just forget about the whole thing–business, Morocco, being an entrepreneur.  When I finally got back to New York, the thought of Morocco brought to mind images of me crying on the street (all alone…pathetic, I know, but I’ve never been very good about hiding my emotions.  And yes, people were staring but I didn’t care.), conversations with sleazy artisans I was counting on who only left me feeling disappointed and ignored, images of hauling myself by bus, taxi and finally walking on dirt roads to the village to pick up embroidery samples that were due only to find that nothing was ready because grandma got sick or they were just too tired to do the work or maybe the sign language used to request the job, didn’t quite translate properly, struggling to communicate my needs in a combination of two foreign languages and hoping that someone might understand me.  I could go on and on but I think you get the picture.  Life was rough for this NYC girl.

I think these were all huge reasons why it also took me 9 months to return to Marrakech.  I knew that I couldn’t let these bad feelings stop me from pursuing my dream of being an entrepreneur and starting a business in Morocco, so I did what any big girl would do and I sucked it up.  I have been determined to make 2011 my year of success.

And here I am.  Back in Marrakech.  And I’ve got to say that things have been going quite smoothly.  I don’t want to jinx myself, but things actually feel like they are falling into place.

My new assistant, Fatima, has re-appeared after a month of being MIA.  I spent a month in NY sending her emails that went unanswered causing me a lot of stress and worry about this trip.  I sent emails to anyone I knew who might know her but nothing.  I was getting desperate.  Now my emails are answered, right away, I might add, and because she has another job, Saturday afternoons have become “Danica Saturday”, the day of the week that I get Fatima all to myself.  We spend our afternoons reviewing projects, planning, organizing, etc.  Zakaria, the belt/bag artisan I work with, had no email address let alone computer so when I was in NY, communication with him was non-existent….and let’s not even talk about what communication was like with the women in the village.  But now, Fatima has made a comeback and I feel confident she is here to stay, Zakaria finally got an email address, though for about a week he asked that I send the emails to his neighbor who was also like a “little brother”, who would relay my messages.  Ok, weird, but hey, at this point I was open to anything.  This neighbor happened to be a cute (he thought so too), 23 year old guy who owned a mini laptop that seemed to be attached to him 24/7–Facebook, MSN Chat and every other chat he could find (lucky me got to hear about all the girls he was chatting up).  Once again, not really the way I was used to working but if this was what worked for Zakaria, then I would be open-minded.  After about a week of being called princess by a 23 year old and him asking me to check out his “blog” which only included pictures of himself in various slick, “cool guy” poses–dark sunglasses on, white button down shirt with black pants in front of a pool somewhere, etc, and listening to him tell me about all the celebrities that converted to Islam, I was ready to tell Zakaria that this was not working for me.  Luckily, Zakaria beat me to  it.  He told me to stop sending emails to the young one and deal directly with him.  Yay!!!

In addition to working with the women in the village, I have been working with a few women’s cooperatives.  As much as I love working with the women in the village, I must admit that it has been a welcome breath of fresh air.  The women who run the cooperative speak French, have email, working phone numbers, have systems in place and do beautiful work.    I still trek to the village on a weekly basis but I now feel better knowing that I have a back up plan and have someone I can communicate with once I return to NY.

So, as I was saying, maybe there is some truth to the saying “life is easy, we make it complicated”.  Or perhaps I have just learned from my past experiences and instead of being so rigid about my ideas or expecting the impossible I have learned to just go with the Moroccan flow.  Hmmm, yeah, I think that’s it….bingo!!!

Been back in Marrakech for a bit over a week after having been away for practically 9 months….wow, 9 months! And funny enough, things are mostly the same around here. The goals for this trip are many but one of the biggest is getting a team in place for my business. Since I’ve been away it’s been a bit challenging to communicate with my Moroccan contacts…using email and laptops is not so common when you live in a village. Anyway, we are working on our communication issues and being the optimist that I am, I am hopeful that all will work out and we will find a solution.

I have also been in search of new sources–bag sample makers, hand embroiderers and most of all an assistant. Yes, I know, I’ve been looking for one for what seems like an eternity (trust me, it feels like an eternity to me) but this is another one of those challenges that comes with doing business for yourself. I actually have found an assistant, Fatima, and she’s amazing. She speaks French and English. She’s hard working and dedicated. Now if I could only find another Fatima that lives in the village and could interact with the hand embroiderers then I would really be in business. But until then, I’ll keep my cool. I’m also keeping my fingers crossed and as my dear friend said keeping “toes crossed, hairs crossed”, anything that will bring me closer to finding the ideal assistant.

Anyway, today is another full day as they always are in Marrakech. After having spent the last two hours clicking away on email, I am just about ready to face the day…on the outside. Paying employees, searching for fabric, trim, thread (of course all in the right colors), making sure that new samples begin to take shape and end up looking like what I envision. And after all that hoping to get myself looking presentable enough so that I can meet some friends for dinner this evening.

Can I do it all? Not sure but I do know I will try my best….and if it doesn’t get done today, tomorrow is a new and probably sunny day here in Marrakech.

More Fall Shopping

You can now find our handcrafted Marrakech Belts and Setti Belts at the Erica Tanov shop in Nolita. Stop on by…..you know you could always add a few new accessories to your fall wardrobe….pass it on!!

204 Elizabeth Street
New York, NY 10012
(212) 334-8020
http://www.ericatanov.com

Hello Everyone!
Just wanted to share some news….now you can find Danica Cosic Design handbags and belts in the West Village!

If you’re in the neighborhood and in the need to spruce up your fall wardrobe, take a peek in Albertine.

Albertine
13 Christopher Street
NY, NY
(212) 924-8515

Another birthday has come and gone.  I spent the day crunching numbers for my business or at least attempting to while overcoming frustration and doing my best to practice patience despite the fact that I really had no clue what I was trying to do.  A basic accounting class would have come in handy.  I spent the rest of the afternoon listening to entrepreneurs speak about their successes and how with a little bit of passion, belief and determination I too could have a successful business.  I’m a sucker for an inspiring story and words of wisdom….it can always bring a tear to my eye.  And on Monday, it’s my last day of entrepreneur class and also my moment to shine…hopefully….and share with my class why I’m doing what I do and why I love this design and artisan thing so much.  Though I’ve talked about my business and my adventure quite a lot over the past year or so the thought of having to get up in front of a class was definitely making nervous especially considering my current state of affairs.  My emotions are once again doing back flips and somersaults all over the place and I have been doing my best to actually hold back tears which I seem to have absolutely no control over…..I don’t get it….there’s a lot I don’t get about life, in particular my life over the past two years, but this sort of thing happens to me a lot….especially when I talk about my business.  Clearly that concept about not crying at work doesn’t apply to me.

On Friday night, as I was organizing my thoughts and going through my Marrakech photos to create a slide show for the presentation, I began to feel a little sentimental about my adopted city.  I was actually missing Marrakech.  I’ll be honest, I haven’t missed Marrakech very much since I’ve been back in NY.  I’ve thought about it often, in fact, just about everyday but as far as missing it goes, not so much.  I left Marrakech with a bad taste in my mouth and on that Wednesday morning in June at 7am my cab driver Omar, couldn’t get me to the airport fast enough….trust me, he tried.

Though those last few days were challenging I know I will be back.  I have to go back.  I try to think less of the challenging moments and think more of the reasons I was there in the first place and the moments that made me love being there.   I often think of Bouchra and Zineb, the women in the village who are waiting for me to come back so that they can continue to work.  I think about Zakaria and Brahim who are also waiting for me to come back so that we can get back to work.  And knowing that there are people who are waiting for me and counting on me is what keeps me going.

BUT, my latest and greatest challenge has been trying to grow my team of 1….that would be me.  It has become completely obvious that as much as I love taking charge and proving to myself that I can do a job, this isn’t one of those jobs.  Being sales and marketing and PR and designer and Morocco contact and NY contact and banker and assistant and accountant and courier is simply not that simple.  So my search begins.  My NY search is on its way–intern, advisory team that I can reach out to during one of my many moments of panic and confusion and mentor who will be there whenever I am in need of those words of encouragement and basically just a kick in the pants.  So far, I’ve got one new member on board and I am very happy to have her.  She’s a hard worker, she’s serious and she’s in Morocco.   The rest of my Morocco team is what I worry about.

Here’s what I’m looking for:

Someone who is serious, hard working, dedicated, have a strong sense of urgency, understand that this may take time but is willing to stick with me and help grow the business…it’ll be worth it…and someone who understands that if I succeed they also succeed.

Now, applications are being accepted so if you know of someone who fits the above description please feel free to forward this information.  If you know people in NY who may be interested in joining the team I’d be more than happy to talk to them and go into more detail.

You’d be doing me a huge favor…..thanks and happy Sunday.

g it as an opportunity to use it as my new year.  We usually wait until January 1st to set new resolutions and put new rules into place but I figure this is my year and I am really ready to make things happen.

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