Growing up in a developing country, one is often exposed to the extreme class differences, poverty, and the lacking societal infrastructure available to others in more developed countries. The freedoms of economic stability, access to basic education, and personal liberty are fragile and often overlooked in societies that are just trying to make ends meet. In Egypt, a majority of the population does not have access to even a fraction of the means of connection and communication that we have as more privileged and educated societies.
Founding RA was the way to give back to the society that has so much capacity for development and contribution.
Iris Morrison brought this vision to Minerva and was able to connect handcrafted alabaster to both the cannabis and home/wellness setting. Working closely with the Minerva team, this collaboration saw the design and creation of the five-piece capsule, exclusive to Minerva Cannabis. Each piece is one of a kind; From the veining of the stone, to the finished product, entirely unique.
Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today Iris. To kick things off, could you exaplin what RA Collective is, how did it start and what goal is RA Collective trying to achieve?
RA Collective is an intersection of the humanities as they relate to culture, human rights, and trade. Primarily functioning as a distribution partner to support and empower Egyptian Artisans. As well as building a replicable strategy for sustainable and transparent supply chains.
This idea has certainly been a long time coming. After the revolution in 2011, a decline in tourism ensued which directly impacted artisans and their livelihoods, putting generational workshops out of business. It was very sad to see, and I think a lot of people felt a need to make a difference.
RA kicked off as an idea on a trip back home in 2017. I traveled to Sinai, Egypt and met a group of 4 girls, about 7 or 8 years old that were selling traditional handmade jewelry. They were taken out of school to try to support their family, a burden that shouldn’t be placed on any child; but is unfortunately very common. They had an overwhelming response to me purchasing their jewelry and that kind of lit the fire. If one purchase can have such a significant impact on a small scale, what could we do if we took this to a bigger market?
So, that’s where it started and that’s the premise we hope to embody. By bringing these products to the global marketplace the main goal is to support local economies in developing areas, and educate people on the seemingly forgotten importance of value in production.
How has cannabis influenced your life and do you support the legal industry?
I’ve been a cannabis user for some time and the shift in perspective has been really exciting to see. I definitely use it as a means to disconnect and settle into a creative headspace, but as of late it’s been very helpful in dealing with stress. Instead of using a random strain and hoping for the best, I’m very happy to be able to make educated decisions and use what suits me.
What does the future hold for RA Collective?
We’re hoping more collections like this! The goal is to empower as many artisans as possible and continue to produce unique collections in all of the beautiful materials that are intrinsic to Egypt, like we were able to with Minerva x RA. We’re optimistic this will spark more and new initiatives in Egypt, and put pressure on the ministries responsible for protecting Egyptian heritage. We’re definitely excited for all of the avenues of opportunity the future holds for us.