Ahmed Abidine: Fearless Fashion

Challenging the fast-fashion industry

As a designer and owner of elkarti, a line of handmade luxury bags, Ahmed Abidine has two goals. He wants to make beautiful, useful accessories; and he wants to empower traditional Moroccan artists to become successful entrepreneurs.

The result is a production partnership with Morocco's Deaf Artisan Group of Marrakech, an organization that offers deaf people training and education to get them out of poverty and homelessness.

Ahmed describes his approach to business as, "following what really inspires me, and using it for the benefit of others. I love what I'm doing."

A native of Morocco, Ahmed developed a deep appreciation for fashion and fine craftsmanship while watching his grandfather make hand-crafted leather sandals and his mother design traditional Moroccan dresses. This artisan upbringing, combined with a flair for entrepreneurship, led Ahmed to study at Portland State University's School of Business, where he designed a sustainable business model for elkarti with the help of PSU's Social Innovation Incubator program.

"I wanted to understand sustainability and how to implement it in business. PSU taught me how to look at all the factors," says Ahmed. "Portland State gave me the visibility, the support and the confidence I needed to follow my dreams and make the world a little better. I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing without PSU."

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