Hi there! I’m Barbora (everyone simply calls me Babs), the woman behind Berber Rose. Here is my story and also, how Berber Rose came to be. Raised in Eastern Europe, I grew up in a paradigm set by the older generation – one that requests every woman to be perfect in every aspect. A perfect wife, mum and professional. All that while single-handedly running a household. For many women it is still the case.
Things started to change when my father got terminally ill. At that time, I was studying in political science, working as a political activist where I saw my professional career going. My father’s illness made me step in to be there for him, while juggling work and studies. It was a truly overwhelming situation.
“My life felt like a giant sinking boat, which I tried to save
– all while beating myself up thinking it’s all my fault.”
Despite my father’s illness progressing, I took up a fellowship in Berlin. My father insisted on this decision as it was a valuable opportunity for my career. Looking back, I realize it was the final push I needed to make my decision.
My boss in Berlin, Debrah was an inspirational woman who tried her best to make life and family work. Watching her invest so much with sheer determination, I slowly realized… I am not that person. Despite always envisioning myself to be an achiever, I wasn’t willing to live a life requesting so many sacrifices and pain-swallowing. I wasn’t ready to blindly chase my ambitions for the sake of them and not for an unshakable belief in cause.
Debrah gave me honest and at that time heart-breaking feedback, that in the later proved to be game-changing. She advised me to consider other career options. And so, despite the accumulated guilt that I inherited as part of my cultural and family DNA, I began to see a different perspective. What if I don’t need to become a lobbyist so I can finally feel good about myself? Just so my parents can brag about me?
Three months later, my dad passed away. It was like being sucked in a black hole. The one, single person that made me feel safe and empowered was gone. Without his stability, I struggled to figure out if I want to follow his path in life.
“Then Morocco came into my life.”
I’ve always wanted to learn surfing and the country was on my bucket list, so I just booked a flight and it truly felt great to be there. It wasn’t perfect – I had my sad days and hysterically crying moments, but the thing that really struck me about Morocco is that life seemed so much simpler there. The locals don’t have much, so they keep it down and real. I found that locals are incredibly honest when it comes to human relationships. And there is so much undamaged beauty around.
“When it was time to leave, I realized I
wanted to take as much Morocco home as possible.”
After encountering so many beautiful pieces in Morocco, I finally decided to start a business and just like that, Berber Rose was born.
Since then, life has been filled with more purpose for me. Whereas before, I lacked this sense of purpose in my work as a political activist, with Berber Rose I can try and do some good with my business. I mostly work with small producers or vendors in areas where income is limited. Morocco is still a manufacturing country where everything is done by hand. One person does all the leather work on the bag, another person makes a kilim, the third person sews it all together. It makes me happier knowing I’m making a change and helping these small communities, rather than working for a kick-ass organization for all the wrong reasons. With Berber Rose, I can truly ensure the entire production is under my control and everything is done fairly.
I hope that I will be able to extend the selection at Berber Rose soon, so if there is something a customer wants from Morocco, they will be able to find it here. My long-term strategy for Berber Rose is to know the absolute source and eventually buy directly to support as many individuals as I can.
It is my biggest hope that if I do as much as possible, and hopefully not alone, I might be able to make a difference.