THE SPICES SOUK IN MARRAKECH
This morning I had to go to the Correos (Spanish Post office) to arrange a Western Union transfer to my Moroccan supplier Youssef.
I can not pay with credit card or bank transfer to him, so we only have the cash or Western Union options.
And this brought back memories of how we met and how we do business together.
In March 2015 - I just started with the business (how that all happened is good for another blog!) - and did not have the first web-shop creation on-line yet. But I went together with my mother - who is meanwhile running my office and business in the Netherlands - for a midweek to Marrakech / Marrakesh.
Planned as a birthday gift for her, not yet as the business trip which it eventually turned out to be.
During one of our days of wandering through the labyrinth style Marrakech Souk, we ended up in the tiny little shop of Youssef in the center of the spices soukl. We entered with a question about a product and we ended up spending several hours with Youssef, who explained us in detail about the benefits of his products, got us excellent and very sweet Moroccan mint tea and slowly we tried and bought more and more products.
Then with full bags we left, promising to come back the next day as we did not have enough cash with us to pay for everything and we also took already the daily allowed limit from the ATM.
To get this trust from Youssef, for total strangers, was special and we treasure that relationship. Also the exchange rate between Euros and Dirham made that we talked about a considerable amount for him.
AND THEN THINGS GO WRONG
So we went back the next day, paid for the products which we already had in our suitcases in the Riad (guesthouse / hotel), bought a little extra and said goodbye with the promise to stay in touch. And off we went, on the plane back home with a suitcase full of Argan oil, Rosewater, Menthol crystals, Scrub gloves and the indescribable handmade Amber and Musk soaps that reminds me of trips to Qatar.
So here I suddenly had a new collection of products for my web-shop, Hamam & Wellness. Maybe not really related to Beach life, on the other hand, to take good care of skin and hair after a beach day, is not unimportant.
After some time I decided to order more products from Youssef and we tried to do that by mail, not huge quantities, but some Argan oil, Beldi black soap - you have to try it, it is amazing to exfoliate your skin - and some soaps.
And that went completely wrong.
I paid Youssef for the products and shipping costs with Western Union and waited and waited and waited.
After some time and still no package, I tried to chase the shipment with the number. And I got my information. The package was stuck at customs in Madrid, nobody ever informed me about it and I had to get paperwork filled out (needed to show all my business papers and to organise an import license). After organising all this, they wanted to send the package, but I had to pay, 150% of the value of the shipment. That means that for me it would be impossible to make any profit on the products and it would actually have been cheaper to buy me a ticket to Marrakech again and get the stuff. So I refused the shipment and they returned it to Youssef. This whole process took 6 months. Ridiculous.
Lesson learned -> to send cosmetic products and liquids etc. between Morocco and Spain is a big NO NO.
BUT THERE ARE ALWAYS SOLUTIONS
I will spare you all the details, but I got the shipment which got returned to Youssef, through another new Moroccan friend Salaheddine, who came by car from Morocco to the Jerez Moto GP, where I was working one of my last races and for that occasion I decided to help someone who is a big fan, with passes for the paddock. And that was Salah.
And when he asked if he could bring something for me from Morocco, I thought about my shipment in Marrakech.
Then Youssef put the package on a bus from Marrakech to Casablanca and Salah brought it to Jerez.
Isn't this a lot more romantic than a boring Correos package?
Last year in March we went again to Marrakech, now 100% as a business trip. And we stayed again many hours in Youssef his shop and saw Salaheddine who came all the way from Casablanca to meet me for a tea in my Riad.
Isn't this what the business is all about? The connections, the international relations, helping, sharing, enjoying, friendship...........no matter how crazy the world and its humans is becoming right now,
I treasure how I meet people, how they come in my life and also how they stay in my life.
Not on a daily base, but with a genuine base of friendship!!!
My name is Anneke AND I STARTED in January