CRE@CTIVE subgrantee in Egypt: meet Moushira Elamrawy, from agri-waste to eco-fibers!


Meet Moushira Elamrawy, bringing sustainability into the traditional sectors by creating Bio-textiles(non-woven textiles) made from different Egyptian agro waste fibres.



Check out our interview with Moushira on her idea and journey into the textile sector!


Could you give us a brief on yourself and your journey in the sector?


"Originally, I am an architect. I ventured into interaction design and open-source hardware. My path had been full of hands-on experience with ecological building techniques with lots of open sources and knowledge sharing as well as self-learning. 


I have worked as an independent consultant for the last 10 years or so, and by the end of 2020, after 8 months of having no clients whatsoever, I thought of the idea of making printed napkins for Christmas bazaars as a way to socialize and network into a new business. Then, naturally, I found myself drifting to natural dyes and natural textiles. I didn’t catch any Christmas bazaars, but instead, I found myself starting an Instagram page, and eventually, I started getting clients for the naturally dyed scarves which was the only product that I provided then. Then, people started asking about naturally dyed meters of fabric, then small brands started to ask about natural materials. The ball has been rolling for 2 years since."


Can you tell us more about how your environment/country/region affects your idea (traditions, design, etc.)


Egypt has been home to natural dyes for ages. Textiles started here, and the magical blue indigo has always been our thing. Our population and social changes have changed the way we operate, but I believe Covid time has allowed room for some of us to rethink our priorities and options in life. It is a full circle at the end; I am devoted to natural and green causes throughout my career in different fields, but maybe five years ago if I started an online store for naturally dyed textiles, it was going to be much more challenging than now, and I wouldn’t have been able to pursue what I'm doing. With better social awareness and an appetite for getting back to nature and our history, things are progressing differently. You can call me crazy, but personally, I feel connected to our old generation and our old Egyptian culture when I work with textiles and linen and try to source natural fibres. It is accumulated ancient knowledge, and when you pull a thread out of it, I think we are rewarded with more knowledge in return.  



How will your idea innovate the traditional sectors in the Mediterranean?


It will allow different options of natural fibres, different in terms of specs and prices. Linen and cotton are wonderful, but they have a very elaborate backstory of trade, pricing, logistics, and the quality of crops in different regions of the south and north of the Mediterranean. Having fibres made of agricultural waste (which itself is problematic in Egypt) allows us to explore options. Options are liberating. This will allow us, the people and cultures of our sea basin, to create and innovate with fashion and crafts, in more sustainable and potentially cheaper ways.


What role do women play in your business idea?  


I am a woman and I started my business alone and started this project proposal alone. All my clients are women or brands for women, and they will serve as pilot testers for the initial products.


What challenges do you face bringing your ideas to life?


For me in particular, the issue is always that everybody wants a rapid return. Investors want a rapid return. Governments want a rapid return. Any support system will be looking for something that can boom in 6 months, which doesn’t align with slow fashion. I work in a natural dyes business where 3 days are needed to bring colour to any tiny piece of fabric. The time is not a waste, it is the time of an added value of special craftsmanship. Eternal knowledge, and colours that are very special and are meant to live for ages.


How will CRE@CTIVE help support you in facing these challenges? (The L@B services, funds, expert support, etc.)


Well, CRE@CTIVE believed in me. I proposed to explore naturally dyed textiles from rice husk, bagasse and corn fibres. Things which are present, but not in our country. Anyone that I shared the idea with, was either sarcastic or sceptical. But CRE@ACTIVE believed in me and awarded me the grant, and the institutional support gave credibility to my research and products, instead of working independently.


How will the CRE@CTIVE L@BS support you in your journey? Or what kind of services do you expect from the L@BS?


NetL@b has been exceptionally supportive so far in terms of technical experience, and the whole CRE@ACTIVE project has been helpful with exposure and market knowledge.


How will cross-border collaborations help support your business idea?


It will shed light on the social aspects of fabric and manufacturing. Meaning I can discover different traditional or technical methods for fabrication. As well as learn about social trends in fashion and purchase, which will guide the way of product creation.


Where do you see your project after the CRE@CTIVE project ends?


Ideally, the new fibres will be tested, so I can start serving a new product of naturally dyed Egyptian textiles, year long. As a small business, I was unable to sustain fabric specs, and I wasn’t able to provide any natural fibres at a reasonable price in winter. After the new fibres, I can. 


What challenges does your sector face in the Mediterranean region? (textile, leather, clothing or footwear)


Supply and demand are not balanced. For example in Egypt, the market forces the trend of lower quality for a lower price, as if this is the only option, which is not a true case, but it is an easier solution for all suppliers. Leather, for example, in a country like Morocco, isn’t fully utilized to its full potential. On the other hand, there aren’t many slow fashion combinations between the north and south Mediterranean. The potential of Egypt is not just to export raw high-quality cotton.


Follow Moushira on Instagram for more!


Finding Fibers