Mallory Solomon's Textile Brand, Salam Hello, Honors Amazigh Female Artisans and Weaving Traditions
Take it from Mallory Solomon, the CEO and co-founder of Salam Hello: Working in the home décor space is an art in and of itself. She broke into the industry indirectly, after spending the bulk of her career in advertising in New York City. Solomon eventually headed up the business department at one of the leading creative agencies in the world, but didn't find the work fulfilling.
After one particularly trying year of work without much time off, Solomon took a two-week trip to Morocco, where her personal love for home décor and career aspirations clicked. "During my time wandering the streets, villages, and various medinas I, of course, did what any tourist does: I went textile shopping," she says. "It was at that moment that I started to have the idea for Salam Hello."
After returning stateside, Solomon studied all things Moroccan textiles. "The history was mesmerizing: Amazigh women have been hand-weaving textiles since 600 BC, passing the craft from generation to generation," she says. "They carry this tradition with them as they work, telling new stories with each knot." These women might spend years on these pieces—but are often excluded from the selling process, explains Solomon.
That's why Salam Hello's mission, which was born in August 2019, is to meet every female artisan they work with to not only understand the stories behind the textiles, but to also honor their asking price when it comes time to sell. "Upon the sale of each rug, we reinvest 10% of our profits back to the villages," says Solomon. "Our giveback initiative flexes to provide the women with what they actually need—some have asked for phones or cameras, charitable donations or materials, while others just ask that we return and continue to buy from them."
The Start of Salam Hello
Salam Hello is completely self-funded, which allowed Solomon to start small intentionally and grow the business from there. At the brand's inception, their offerings included 15 one-of-a-kind rugs. The following year, they expanded to customizable options. By focusing on their growth and reinvesting in the business, they now have over 150 unique, handcrafted rugs, over 30 customizable rugs, and pillow options now available.
The brand also has new verticals: "Most recently, we launched Salam Hello Experiences, a first-of its-kind immersive experience where guests are guided to meet the artisans, understand their traditions, and weave alongside them as we share the history and culture of Morocco that are typically overseen," says Solomon.
Painting the Picture
Instagram is one of the key tools the brand has used to help amplify the stories of the female artisans. "That social channel allows us to show the full spectrum of the Salam Hello story, from our artisan visits to parts of the making of the rug," says Solomon. "With each piece of content, we strive to transport our community to Morocco and to make them feel like they are with the artisans having tea, weaving the rug, or just feeling the beauty of these one-of-a-kind pieces."
Honoring Amazigh Artisans
Salam Hello's work wouldn't be possible without Solomon's team. "My co-founder, Abdellatif Mouhsine, is Amazigh and is originally from the southeast of Morocco," says Solomon. "We share a passion for the rich tradition and artistry of Amazigh textiles." They travel to villages known for weaving and talk with locals to discover families or associations wanting to sell their goods.
The founders spend hours chatting with the makers and learning the history behind their work. "The majority of the artisans we work with speak Tamazight, the Amazigh language, and being co-founded by someone that is part of their community has been crucial to our relationship development and growth as a business," says Solomon.
To date, the Salam Hello network spans over 70 female artisans who have become an extended part of Solomon's family, she says. These women have also supported her through the loss of a loved one. "On my first trip back to visit the various sets of weavers, they invited me for couscous and made an extra plate for a family in need," she says. "This sharing and giving of a meal is one of the many rituals of grief in Morocco. Without their support, last year would not have been possible."
The process behind every textile is embedded in tradition, starting from harvesting and dyeing the wool to completing the weave with the loom. "Each step of the traditional weaving process is meaningful," says Solomon. "According to tradition, this storied weaving process gives the textiles magic, protective qualities. The finished pieces are considered shields from the evil eye."
To Solomon, honoring these practices means the world. "What we ultimately want is for our customers to have a truly deep connection with their rug beyond the look and feel of the product," she says. "Knowing the story behind the textile and the human on the other end of the supply chain, we believe, is a way to have a better world full of civility."
Onward and Upward
As 2022 comes to a close, Solomon is most excited for fans of the brand to take a virtual trip to Morocco through their Salam Hello Experiences—and she's looking forward to more meaningful moments in 2023. "In the beginning of the year, we're launching an editorial series where we will be putting together a group of tastemakers, influencers, creators, and designers in the Salam Hello community who have and love pieces in their home," she says, adding that they will share what home means to them. "We're [also] working on some exciting partnerships and collaborations, as well as new innovative ways for folks to experience Salam Hello in real life and shop our products."
- Mallory Solomon's Textile Brand, Salam Hello, Honors Amazigh Female Artisans and Weaving Traditions
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