Sunday, 29 November 2015

The Red Gold of Africa

Once a year it is harvest time for saffron and these purple plants of the crocus family are in full bloom for a couple of weeks. We decided to take a Red City PR meeting at the saffron farm "Paradis du Safran" outside Marrakech and get some work done in a tranquile environment.
 


The purple saffron flowers are harvested manually.

Saffron is known as "the red gold of Africa". High quality saffron costs about 30 Euro/gram at this farm. We were told that 90% of the saffron you find in the world (yes, also in Europe) is fake, substitutes or unpure. So make sure you buy high quality secured saffron when you're out shopping.


Approx 150-200 flowers are needed for just 1 gram of saffron.

Each saffron flower has three red pistilles, these are manually seperated from the flowers and only the red part is used in pure saffron. The saffron plants are very sensitive to climate and a normal farm can harvest 1-5 kg saffron/year.

Harvest in progress

A lot of work to first pick the flowers...

...and then separate the saffron from the flower.

Using real saffron, when you cook or bake, you only use a few straws and you have to use a mortar and then let them souk in some water for 5 minutes. After that you add it to your food, sauce or baking for a fantastic taste.

The final product, ready to be used!


Paradis du Safran is located appprox 30-40 minutes outside Marrakech and you also find beautiful gardens as well as a lot of exotic plants and herbs. A great excursion for a half day trip.

Beautiful views everywhere

One of the three cute resident dogs

They had peacocks at the farm!


The Red City PR team including one of our dogs, Disco, after a productive day of work and planning.
 
Follow the adventures of Red City PR on Facebook and Instagram!
 
Now we are ready to enjoy some fish tagine with saffron sauce,
P&P

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Launching Red City PR!

Since we made Marrakech our base we have travelled Morocco from South to North. We have met so many interesting and inspiring new friends. We have created our own little tribe down here and become part of the daily life in the ancient Marrakech medina. We have been going to parties - so many nice parties! There have been gallery openings, launches of new restaurants, pop-up dinners, new designers who open up stores and lots of international events. We have talked the nights away under the stars. We have had the riad full of friends and family visiting from Scandinavia. We have been going to the gym almost daily. And yes, we have studied Arabic and French and have done some work as well.

The sunny days turned into months, the seasons shifted from lush spring to summer heat to fresh fall. And all of a sudden we realised that we have been in Morocco for 10 months and we are not done. Not by far. A year in Marrakech may very well turn into several, maybe even a life in Marrakech? It might be time to get a haircut and a more steady job.

Since we both have worked for some 20 years internationally with communications, building strong brands, creating effective PR and driving sales we couldn't help but noticing how big the need was in Morocco when it comes to marketing and PR. There really aren't many (any) communications agency offering full service with the level of quality that we are used to in Europe. The infrastructure for strategic PR is non-existing. 

So teaming up with some highly talented and experienced international proffessionals we decided to create Red City PR, a full service communications agency that also offers production services for photo shoots and film productions in Morocco.
 
One of our fantastic team members is Maryam Montague who is our social media expert, she has also worked with government agencies, non-profit organizations and the media inluding CNN, New York Times and Elle Decor. She is a multiple winner of the International Weblog Awards and author of the book Marrakesh By Design as well as the founder of Project SOAR where we are members of the board. Not to mention being ranked as one of Africas top designers and lots of fun.
 
Our other brilliant team member is Chris Redecke who is our expert on sourcing, scouting, legal issues and team logistics. He is an architect who worked for John Sandy Associates and MacNamara Architechts and is now running the hotel Peacock Pavilions where we hang out all the time!
 
 
 
We love our new logo! The design of the iris is inspired by the structure of Moroccan tiles

Red City PR aims to be the leading communications agency in Morocco. 
We will develope cost-effective and creative solutions for our clients. 
We call ourselves GLOMO - Global and Moroccan.



Before the formal launch of the company we did several test cases with a "360 approach" on the businesses of our first clients to develop and fine tune our tool boxes and offers. To put it simple Red City PR offers full service or selected services in the following areas:

Strategy | Brand | Creative | Marketing | Advertising | Digital | Social Media | PR | Events | Photo Shoots 

 
Our clients will mainly be Moroccan companies who are looking to improve their reputation, performance or engagement in Morocco but also international companies who are entering the Moroccan market or plan to include Morocco as part of their communications strategies.
 



We had both been thinking about doing something around communications since we arrived to Morocco because there is such a huge need for it here. And one magical Marrakech evening, when we were enjoying a great pop-up dinner at the Nomad restaurant, one of our friends said: "Guys, we should start a communications agency together". And since that evening, May 17 to be exact, we have been planning for the launch and start up of Red City PR, a project born from both a need in the market as well as our passion for Morocco. 

 
We have an amazing location catalogue and know all the best spots in Morocco.

Red City PR knows all the best spots for photo shoots and will take care of all practical aspects, from permits to art buying. Weather you need oceans, snow, canyons, deserts or a funky street - all is easily accessable from Europe, hence ensuring cost efficient productions.



Team Red City PR
The four founders of Red City PR all have extensive experience of building succesful brands, creating buzz and driving sales. We have worked with some of the strongest power brands on the planet as well as small entreprenurial start ups. We represent solid experience from the fashion, lifestyle, design, hospitality, film, cultural and FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) sectors in four continents. We are on top of strategy, marketing, digital, PR and execution. We have produced fashion and film shoots all over the world and we know Morocco better than anyone. We also have a high quality network of photographers, stylists, designers, "runners" and support staff at our disposal.

Friends and business pals: Patrick, Chris, Maryam & Per

If you want to learn more about Red City PR we would love it if you checked out our website and followed us in social media! We promise to inspire you to achieve greatness!








Why not follow us in social media? We promise to share (some of) our secrets...
 
We named our blog "A Year in Marrakech" to reflect the intended time frame of our Moroccan adventure. Given the fact that we are now staying on in Morocco we will acordingly change the name of our blog from "A Year in Marrakech" to "A Life in Marrakech" effective immediatley.

Wish us luck on our new adventure, Marrakech 2.0!
P&P


Red City PR - stay tuned, great things will happen!


Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Our favorite blogging friends

Dear Blog Reader, 
Thank you for following our blog "A Year in Marrakech" and being part of our virtual tribe. What started out as a small travel blog to keep family and friends up to speed with our adventures in Morocco turned into a very popular source of information for those who seek insiders tips on Marrakech and Morocco or just want to learn more about our life here in the Red City. After some features of our blog in a few fashion Magazines our number of readers increased dramatically. We frequently run into people in Marrakech who use our blog to plan their trips and we really appreciate all the positive feedback we get. Thank you all for being part of our journey!
 

Our blog A Year in Marrakech started our as a travel diary for family and friends but soon found a global audience. Above is one of the early posts.

We have been at it for more than a year now. We posted our very first blog post on October 29, 2014, and on January 17, 2015, we moved to Morocco and the adventures of living in the medina of Marrakech begun. We have loved every second of it and try to share our honest opinions about our new country and the places we go to. Our blog has always been 100% advertise free and will continue to be so, only what we truly like make it into our blog. This blog has always been a passion project and we have posted more or less one blog post a week since we started out a year ago, a total of 69 posts including this one.

Today we have approx 25.000 unique readers (our latest one reached 24.779 readers all over the world. Most readers are based in Sweden, Morocco, US, South America, Spain, UK and Finland. 

If there are any special topics or questions you would like us to cover or feedback on the blog in general we would love to hear from you! Email us at riadarabe@gmail.com and we will try to cover your requests in future blog posts!

Our top-5 most popular blog posts since the start are:

 
GREAT BLOGS BY GREAT FRIENDS
If you want some more inspiration about Morocco we invite you to discover some excellent blogs by our friends, check them out - we are sure you will love them!

My Marrakesh, by Maryam Montague
This was the first blog we started to read about Morocco and our main source of information and inspiration before moving here. The author Maryam, who also owns beautiful boutique hotel Peacock Pavilions and is the writer of the best selling book Marrakesh by design, blogs from her olive grove and she soon became a very dear friend. This award winning blog is very well written and filled with inspiration and secrets. If you want to bring some of the Moroccan magic you read about into your home you will find hidden treasures in her stylish online shop. My Marrakesh is the only Africa based blog that has ever been in the Blog Awards Hall of Fame and in our opinion the best blog around.


 
Marrakech Maria, by Maria Sebnat Martin
This blog is in Swedish and contains a lot of travel ideas, practical information and insiders tips. Maria is the Morocco expert of Swedish travel magazine "Res" and she also runs guest house Riad Saba. Maria has been based for 18 years in Morocco and is a fun loving Swede that is also working on the 6th edition of the Marrakech Biennale (MB6). If you read Swedish you will find a lot of inspiration here. Should you need help to plan your trip or event in Morocco Marias other company Marrakech Travel Company will be happy to make your 1001-night dreams come true.

 
 

Alice Out There by Alice Morrison
Alice is an adventurer with capital "A". She has crossed Morocco by foot, climbed the highest mountains, trekked all over Africa and completed some of the worlds toughest adventure competitions and races. Alice has an amazing attitude towards life and is a true source of inspiration. She blogs about her adventures, life and how to challenge yourself. We are so very proud to have her as our sports instructor at Project Soar, coaching our girls. Alice - you rock!



Coco Morocco by Marlene Pauly
If you are looking for property in Morocco this is the blog for inspiration and facts. Marlene combines beautiful and inspirational pictures from unique properties with practical information about buying real eatate here in Morocco. Stylish and informative. Also intel on lifestyle, where to go and what to do from this expert on Marrakech and Essaouira. Free E-book about the best hotspots in Essaouira is available for download from her blog!

 


We hope that you will continue to find inspiration in our blog and the blogs of our friends! 

Keep following the adventures and be part of our virtual tribe!
P&P




Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Local Designers - fashion overload

Fashion and Marrakech, closly linked since the early days of the city when the skilled textile craftsmen created beautiful traditional clothing with unique patterns and designs. Forever imortalised as iconic via the obsession of Yves Saint Laurent. Almost every international designer has come to the Red City for inspiration and the photographers flock here for fashion shoots. Today young and urban design thrive and we find a lot of interesting new takes on the traditions.

We have previously dedicated a blogpost to "Fashion and Marrakech" (our most popular post so far!). And since we have worked a lot in the fashion industry and love fashion we can't help but doing one more. Today we would like to introduce you to some contemporary and good designers you find in the Marrakech medina. The design and quality of the garments are mostly excellent but the stores themselves are however often quite uninspiring compared to western standards. Store concepts and visual merchandising are not where the energy is put clearly. However there are a few exceptions like the cool small boutiques in Souk Cherifia.

Artc
Artc is an avantgardist Moroccan designbrand with high creativity and a very modern take on the Moroccan design traditions. The designer Artsi Ifrach frequently shows his collections at Paris fashion week. Most pieces are unisex and you can find some really cool stuff and unique pieces here. The store in Marrakech is located in Souk Cherifia.
 
Avantgardist Artc

The very cool designer himself outside his flagship shop in Marrakech

Interesting details on this coat
 
Scary shoes

"Habibi" means "darling" in Arabic

Norya Ayron
Norya Ayron is a super stylish Algerian born designer with internaitonal reputation. She is based in Marrakech and has her little boutique upstairs in the Le Jardin restaurant. She designs amazing bohemian chic dresses and very nice handbags at reasonable price points. Stylish, modern and chic.


Norya Ayron

Part of the silk dress collection fall 2015

Stylish one of a kind dresses...

...and handbags with a twist.

Max & Jan
Max & Jan is a Moroccan brand with a Belgien designer and they have a tribal touch to everything they do, we just love their stuff. They have several shops in Marrakech and Agadir. They have cool, contemporary and tribal chic fashion for both men and women. 

Cool street art on the wall outside the brand new Max & Jan store in the medina

You will find some really cool bags at Max & Jan

Fall collection 

Tribal chic jewlery

Chez Bel Haj
Bel Haj designs Moroccan haute couture and shows amazing attention to details and qualities.

This fine establishment is located in Dar Bacha

Beautiful details and stichings in these Bel Haj shirts

Maison du Caftan
So, we need to tell you about caftans. Caftans is a huge fashion industry in the Arabic world. You can find very well tailored caftans with nice details and excellent quality for 30-100 Euros depending on material, style and level of details. Then there is the haute couture caftan scene where prices start from a couple of thousands Euros and go up to tens of thousands of Euros. The big caftan fashion show in Marrakech attract rich caftan seeking women from around the world who fly in (often in private jets) to stock up on one of a kind caftans for the next season.

This is a haute couture caftan from the fall 2015 collection, price 14.000 Euros

Maison du Caftan is a very good place to go if you are in the market for good quality caftans. You will find a very nice selection in more moderate price ranges.

It's caftan time baby!

Some examples of traditional caftans with a twist

Topolina
Topolina is a Marrakech brand with a talented young designer who has collections for both men and women. His two shops are in Dar Bacha in Marrakech. Dar Bacha is a very good area/street if you look for fashion (or good antiquities). Topolina is very colourful, crazy and fun. We love this brand!

Topolina, also in Dar Bacha

Funky shoes

The fall look according to Topolina, always match your scarf and helmet!

Marrakshi Life
Marrakshi Life works in gorgeous natural materials and pays a lot of attention to details, many pieces are classical design with a modern twist on fittings and cuttings. Everything is made by hand around the corner of the shop. The designs are focused on everyday basics.


Marrakshi Life is located on the second floor in Souk Cherifia in the medina

Handwoven cotton garments

Your everyday basics

Enfin
Enfin means "finally" in French and is a brand we just discovered. Also here everything is made by hand and all materials are natural. The design is modern and pays a lot of attention to details. This is the Moroccan version of Swedish super fashion brand Acne (that we adore) so needless to say we get a lot of stuff from here. They might need a new logo though...


Enfin - Moroccan version of Acne?

Beautiful purple cashmere sweater with amazing stiching

It's all about white. But with a hat.

A one piece only custom fitted brown suede shirt with lot's of hand stiching from Enfin for approx 100 Euros

Morocco - where 1000 years of history and culture blends with modern design and contemporary life

And remember, Fashion never sleeps!
P&P