Monday, July 12, 2010

Congrats Spain!

OK, I lied. One more blog before I take off for Uganda. I "splurged" last night-all of 50 dollars-for a room at Hotel Balima in Rabat to kick off my Uganda vacation: Can't get to the airport in Casablanca from REK in one day to make my flight; so took advantage to escape the heat, grab a shower-where a clean towel, soap and hot water are provided-and watch TV. Yes, the World Cup final.

True confession? I'm a real soccer novice. This was the first soccer match I've watched beginning to end. Soccer became poular in the US after my school days and with no kids I didn't spend my weekends sitting on the sidelines as a soccer mom. Just never had a reason to tune in.

Well, let me tell you, soccer is king in Morocco. Events, evenings, the rhythm of the town has revolved around the televised matches. So, when in Rome....

I had no idea that soccer was so much like basketball-and I love a good basketball game-esp NCAA Final Four-whoever is playing. The fancy footwork, ball handling, sprints, defense coverage, dirty plays, fouls and theatrics-several Oscar worthy performances last night-soccer's got it all. Call me a convert.

One last email before shutting down the computer Saturday night initially really pissed me off. I've decided instead that it's a great lesson for the Coop.

I've exchanged several emails with a woman who is starting an e-commerce business in the US to sell products on She wants to source artisanal products from Morocco-or so she says. Anyway, I get her linked to Adwal's website and she told me she wanted me to submit photos of final products and all the other required specs. No problem-happy to do so. I spent several hours Saturday explaining all of this to Zahra -yeah- to someone who doesn't use a computer, that a woman who's starting an internet business to sell product on another internet site, and oh by the way, you don't actually sell anything until someone orders, then you've got to produce in 3 weeks, etc.. They want to pursue it. I spend a couple hours hauling products out to the construction rock pile out back-makes a nice neutral backdrop-in the over 105 degree heat, get all the specs and head back to my apt to spend the next 4 hours compiling all of the information, editing and posting photos; all of it in a form to send out. Within 2 hours I receive back a "thanks but no thanks" response with the explanation that quality, colors and photos need to be perfect for online sales and these don't cut it.

My initial reaction is to want to shoot off a reply that people who want to buy a hand-spun, naturally dyed wool, hand-woven w/indigenous design hanbel from Morocco usually really appreciate the imperfections that come from all that handwork. And by the way, you saw this work on the website photos so what changed? Why have me do this work if this is the case?

I managed to restrain myself from sending that email. Instead, I will use this when I return as a great lesson for Adwal. First lesson-who do you want to sell to-because here's feedback on US internet sales-they may place no value on "artistry" and want perfection. Do you look for other customers or work to improve your quality, or both? Second lesson-it takes a lot of work to find and develop selling connections-you've got to be willing to send tons of emails, respond, send information, follow up-and most wont pay off. How bad to you want it? What are you willing to do? Your choice.

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