Student entrepreneur combines culture and community through L’Bazar

Mehdi Sossey Alaoui, a second-year student in the advertising and marketing communications program at Algonquin College, is not your typical student. Coming from Morocco, Mehdi’s life journey has been a dynamic interplay between culture and creative pursuits. At the age of 14, he made the transition from Morocco to the UK, sparking a deep dive […]
Photo: Naomie Twagirumukiza
Mehdi Sossey Alaoui shared experiences of participating in events like the CoolShe market in Morocco, where L' Bazar connected with women in business and expanded their network.

Mehdi Sossey Alaoui, a second-year student in the advertising and marketing communications program at Algonquin College, is not your typical student.

Coming from Morocco, Mehdi’s life journey has been a dynamic interplay between culture and creative pursuits. At the age of 14, he made the transition from Morocco to the UK, sparking a deep dive into the world of creativity.

Mehdi’s first contact with the online realm involved working with Airbnb, where he showcased and promoted apartments through captivating visuals on social media.

In 2020, Mehdi graduated from London South Bank University with a degree in econometrics and investment in finance. However, he soon realized that a conventional finance career wasn’t his calling. The prospect of spending the entire year in the same spot for the rest of his life didn’t align with his aspirations for a more dynamic and fulfilling future.

Mehdi’s entrepreneurial spirit took a unique turn: he delved into freelancing, joining the wave of students seeking independence in their endeavours.

He reminisces about camping outside the exclusive clothing store, Supreme, which was at the time 20 minutes away from where he lived in Kennington, South London, strategically securing sought-after items to resell on his Facebook Marketplace.

Mehdi’s perspective on fashion and style is distinctive. He notes the contrast between the DIY culture of his homeland and the more capitalist-driven approach to clothing in his current environment.

“In Morocco, it’s the combo that you make with your colours, your patterns and your layers that make you fly,” Mehdi said.

Out of this blend of creativity and cultural appreciation, L’Bazar was born — a community project conceived with the involvement of key individuals. Despite being physically distant from his hometown, Agadir, Morocco, Mehdi insisted on establishing the project there. He believed that to conquer other places, one must first claim their own.

L’Bazar thrift store was launched in March 2021 after a careful and long time in development, involving stylists, photographers, designers, and influencers from Morocco. Frustrated by the prevalence of white-washed art and discrimination they had seen and experienced, Mehdi and his team ensured that everything about the store was 100 per cent Moroccan.

Navigating the challenges of balancing college and entrepreneurship, Mehdi emphasizes the communal aspect of L’Bazar with no hierarchy.

“It’s a community project. Our goal is to grow this platform so it provides more gigs to the participants and develops everyone’s skills,” he said.

Mehdi’s perception of his target market expanded when Nyla Grace, a stylist and creative director from Ottawa and his classmate, recognized a niche for L’Bazar in Canada. Collaborating with Nyla, who shares his passion for business and fashion and was recently featured in the MOB journal, Mehdi aims to create something larger by combining their cultural backgrounds.

Reflecting on their journey, they both stress the importance of community in their work. Mehdi shared experiences of participating in events like the CoolShe market in Morocco, where L’Bazar connected with women in business and expanded their network.

“We’re putting two cultures together to make something bigger,” Grace said.

Mehdi expresses a desire for L’Bazar to surpass his previous achievements in Morocco, emphasizing the privilege of launching and growing the project with friends.

As for advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, Mehdi advocates for taking the leap and starting, understanding that failure is part of the process.

“It’s not about wins and losses,” Mehdi said. “We are nothing like the people we were when we started.”

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