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    Souk Media — supportwomen

    "The Souk stands for women at home and abroad" Easy Reader

    by David Mendez

    Lenora and Adnen Marouani’s storefront makes no attempt to hide its progressive leanings.

    The front window of The Souk, 1201 Manhattan Avenue, lays it out in black and white.

    “I refuse to let a misogynistic, narcissistic, xenophobic, homophobic, sexist, racist, racist, deceitful, reckless, egotistical, self-obsessed, inarticulate, insulting, unfit, bigoted megalomaniac represent my daughters,” the sign reads, accompanied by the hashtag #StandUp.

    The Souk, Lenora notes, is focused on women’s empowerment, both at home and abroad. To that end, they’ve partnered with Aatik and Darzah, organizations that help build fair-trade commercial opportunities for women in Tunisia and the West Bank.

    “The nature of the women there, they’re typically behind the scenes…I wanted to bring their passion here,” Lenora said. “I wanted to promote women, putting them on the pedestal…I feel if given equal opportunity, they could really blossom.”

    The store, the couple’s second venture following successful wine shop, Barsha, is named for the open-air, artisan marketplaces found in North Africa and harkens back to Adnen’s Tunisian birthplace. Its shelves and racks include handmade clothing, pillows, rugs and furnishings.

    “I remember the first time going to Tunisia, I was there for three months and just fell in love with it,” Lenora said. “The artisan processes are amazing — everything is handmade, hand-woven, hand-painted, with attention to detail and passion put into each product.”

    But now Lenora, who took her two daughters to the Los Angeles Women’s March, feels that women’s rights are at risk under the presidency of Donald Trump.

    “I feel like everything we’ve fought so hard for is now biting us back in the ass,” Lenora said. “We’re going to experience a me-first, a self-centered type of America that doesn’t have our best interests in mind.”

    In less than two weeks, the Trump administration has made good on promises toward a more nationalistic foreign policy, with steps to limit migration and refugees from majority-Muslim countries. The administration has also rolled back funding for organizations providing women’s reproductive services outside the U.S.

    The Souk seems to run directly counter to Trump’s philosophies, giving priority both to women and to cooperation between people of all faiths and ethnicities.

    Lenora produced a pillow, made by Adnen’s mother, Zina.

    “Every every color and pattern was a reflection of how she was feeling at the moment; it was her form of artistry and creativity,” Lenora said. “She’s inspiring, and the women there are truly inspiring…but they don’t have equal rights. It’ll get there. I have hope.”

    The Souk is there to help provide that hope, offering resistance through empowerment.

    “The only way to get through this is together, we can’t just be angry,” Lenora said. “We have to change that and shake that, and mold it into positive action.”

    "Shop-owner brings Tunisia's souk to Manhattan Beach" Beach Reporter

    • Genie Davis, Aug 11, 2016

    Open for just over 3 months, The Souk is a unique shop in Manhattan Beach that features the work of Tunisian artisans. From handmade ceramics, rugs and blankets to cooking dishes and clothing, The Souk’s full range of hand-crafted products introduces customers to the culture of Tunisia, as well as its products.

    The Souk is the latest local business from Adnen, originally from Tunisia, and Lenora Marouani. The husband and wife team owns Barsha Wines as well.

    “Every trip to we took to Tunisia I would fall in love with the whole experience at the souk, which is their outdoor marketplace,” said Lenora. “The souk features everything from rugs, ceramics, and clothing, to street food and produce. Everything is hand-crafted, hand-painted and hand-woven. These trips created the inspiration to bring the souk to the South Bay.”

    Among the Marouani’s most unusual items are vintage hand-woven rugs designed by Tunisian women, ceramic tangines, or baking dishes, children’s embroidered tunics and leather slippers, and the ceramic hamsas, hand-shaped serving and cooking dishes.

    Jewelry is another strong seller in the store, with many featuring symbols that are reputed to bring good luck, fortune and success, while warding off bad energy. All of these items have a powerful history behind them, of the crafts people who make them, the meaning of designs such as the ‘evil eye,’ and the hamsa. The hamsa is a pattern of a hand with an eye, or other symbol in the palm. The word means five, and refers to the five senses. This shape appears in several of the items the shop offers.

    “It’s more than just bringing an item into your home, it’s bringing a cultural story, and a cause,” Lenora said.

    The cause Marouani refers to is the financial support that product sales offers to the artisans who make these exotic and beautiful handmade items.

    The Souk is a natural fit for the beach cities, she notes. “The Souk style definitely melds well with beach style. The right rug or textile can definitely bring out the best in your beach house, and the shop is also a great hub for designers.”

    Setting the mood in the well-curated shop, funky vinyl sounds spin on a record player, while the vibrant colors and intricate patterns of much of the store’s merchandise, draws shoppers’ eyes.

    Marouani said operating this shop in the beach cities is a major plus. “Having Barsha Wines has shown us just how tight-knit a community can be. People know us, and come to us for merchandise that’s both worldly, ethnic and Bohemian. It’s a very approachable vibe.”

    The community aspect of Marouani’s shop extends straight to The Beach Reporter. Either Lenora or Adnen stops by weekly to gather old copies of the newspaper to shred as stuffing for their poufs and ottomans.

    Lenora said she is a huge advocate for recycling and making less of a footprint in landfills.

    “I really appreciate our relationship with The Beach Reporter to make that happen,” she said. “In fact, with every pouf that you purchase, you can put your feet up, and rest assured that beach history, as well as Tunisian culture, will always be a part of your home.”

    Marouani feels strongly that the special touch of the Tunisian elements in her shop brings something wonderful to any environment. “Our products convey a feeling, a story that you can pass on to your family and your guests, a way to offer the best to our customers and our Tunisian artisans.”

    The Souk is located at 1201 Manhattan Avenue in Manhattan Beach.