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About Zarabesque

(How a starving artist grew up at 40-something to become the original online source of the yummiest clothes on the planet...)

Having traveled the Middle East and North Africa when I was 18 (ca. 1974) I have always had a deep enchantment for this exotic part of the world. Back then it was still somewhat shrouded in delicious -- and dangerous -- mysteries, much less familiar to westerners, Americans especially, than now.

After many months of wandering small mountain villages and large urban meccas, in and out of bright bazaars and shadowy souks, I -- along with so many travelers of my generation -- went a little native, as they say, dressing in local traditional garb in a mix and match way with my (deteriorating) western style. I still have a couple of Palestinian folk dresses, Moroccan djellabas and one very threadbare Algerian gandourah.

I never quite re-assimilated when I returned home to Chicago. It was the 1970s, after all, and there was folkwear everywhere. But it didn't matter to me. I had created my own eclectic style and that was that.

But Moroccan clothing was not an easy thing to find in the States. I kept in touch with a few merchants I'd befriended and imported my own pants, a pair or two at a time, for decades. I found Laise Adzer, whom I'd had the pleasure of meeting in Morocco, then based only in Southern California, but I was a 'starving artist' and her fabulous offerings were beyond my means -- besides which her boutique wasn't hip to shipping single pieces to me 'all the way to Chicago'.

I relocated to Berkeley in 1979 and discovered Tienda Ho. And while the quality of the sousde wasn't quite the same I was nevertheless hooked. In essence, I am the original 'Tiendaholic'!

And like all addicts I needed MORE. As early as 1995 I began perusing the globe via the internet looking for sousde garments and found nothing -- but I did discover that I was not the only one looking. I remember thinking if there's a market for this, why is no one selling it... and suddenly that seller was ME.

Laise Adzer had passed, her boutiques gone, but her legacy lived on in her fabulous design portfolio and the Moroccan family business who loomed her custom sousde for decades. I started by selling on eBay -- some of my original customers are still with me! -- and in 2001 I launched I've survived copycats and genuine intellectual property thieves to bring my love of all-things-sousde to women from small-town Iowa to Tokyo, from the Australian outback to yes, even my beloved hometown, Chicago. My mission has been to 'Share the Susti Love' and this joy comes back to me in words and even grateful tears from my customers, my beauties, which has made it all worthwhile.

It's now 2014 and I am making a bold move that is long overdue -- changing the name of my endeavor to something all my own: Zarabesque. It is never recommended to rebrand in midstream; as an ad man's daughter, i know this well. But I -- and the best job I ever created for myself -- have long outgrown the name I chose when I first began. (As I no longer carry the Tienda Ho collection, it's about time, no?)

If you love these garments, this fabric, both Laise Adzer's designs and my own, then you'll join with me as I thank those who have been here since the humble beginnings of one piece at a time via eBay; those who have come and gone, wearing this delicious sousde until quite literally the end of their lives; and the hundreds of my compassionate beauties who have hung patiently with me during a deluge of tragedies in recent years -- made worse by my own year-plus battle with a debilitating illness (now more or less controlled).... without all these fabulous women from the four corners of the earth, I would not be here today to celebrate this 're-branding'... as I am so fond of saying all over this site, 'you're the artist, be your own canvas, create yourself new every day' -- so I am simply following my own philosophy, and hope to continue to thrill you all with new styles and colors, new ways to dress in style and comfort, for many more years to come!



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