Le Souk Ceramique was founded in 1997 in an effort to preserve traditional Tunisian artisanship, particularly the arts of painting and ceramics. With a studio located in Nabeul, a northeast coastal town known as the ceramic capital of the country, Le Souk stands as an homage to the cultural importance of painted bisque-making in Tunisia.
Le Souk artisans produce ceramic tableware that is painted entirely freehand using raw clay, glazes and paints. Because every artisan is very much involved in the creative design of Le Souk’s products, regardless of gender, there is no outsourcing of labor nor any use of heavy machinery other than kilns.
Artisans at Le Souk reflect the economic constraints present in Tunisia, as many did not complete high school or college. To curb widespread poverty and the 15% unemployment rate in Tunisia, Le Souk Ceramique hires and trains artisans from predominantly lower socioeconomic backgrounds in order to provide those without marketable skills fair wages. In terms of environmental sustainability, Le Souk succeeds in its regimen: all clay shreds are recycled daily, all packaging boxes are 100% recyclable, and all paints and glazes used are non-toxic and foodsafe.
As a nationally accredited group of artisans, Le Souk has been able to generate significant community development in Nabeul and its surrounding areas. For one, Le Souk facilitates craft training for hopeful painters and potters in the studio’s neighborhood. They also pay fully into Caisse Nationale de Securite Sociale, Tunisia’s healthcare and retirement system, and give annual bonuses to employees during Ramadan. In the summer months, Le Souk artisans enjoy paid time off to benefit from the warm weather and the beach.