Talking folk craft and heritage

with Kat + Latif, Founders of "Kat+ Maouche”

Meet Kat + Latif, owners and founders of Portland based rug shop Kat + Maousche, and friends of Tsuchiya Kaban 

Their Origin Story 

Katen + Latif started their Portland-based rug shop in 2014 in the Chinatown neighborhood of Portland, but their story goes a bit further back. Their relationship started 12 years prior, in San Francisco, where “Kat” was studying for her Ph.D. at Berkeley and met Latif, an Algerian immigrant living nearby. After a brief romance, they found themselves living in Latif’s homeland of Algeria, Katen fully embracing life abroad in a very foreign land. They spent these early days of their life together, traveling, soaking up the culture, and visiting remote mountain towns inhabited by Berbers, the Indigenous population of North Africa. Latif himself is Berber, now a minority group in Algeria, representing 15% of the population.

One thing leads to another

During their time in Northern Africa, they traveled through Algeria and Morocco, visiting the many souks or local markets, and started collecting bits of textiles here and there. They learned that each textile paints a picture of its origin story and who made it: where it came from geographically, what resources the people had to weave with- old clothing, maybe yarn spun from goat hair, or maybe the textile had a pattern that carried some special meaning- these were all context clues they could use to piece together the history. These textile treasures evolved into collecting rugs and ultimately became their purpose: sharing the stories of the Berber people and their predominantly female weavers through the medium of rugs. Doing what they can preserve the intention of every rug they collect and carrying that story all the way through to their shop in Portland and to the eventual new owner of that rug. “For us, the most important thing is having them seen for what they truly are, their provenance.”

Appreciation for design in everyday objects

The rugs they carry in their store are functional to the semi-nomadic people they came from, some are bed mats, some are rugs placed at the entrance of tents, and all serve multiple purposes in a Berber household. This understanding and appreciation for the concept that the everyday objects in your life can truly be art are precisely what they love about their Tsuchiya Kaban Randoseru backpacks. Originally designed as a military backpack, adapted by the Japanese as school bags in the 1950s, and now worn globally by many, was a story that piqued the interest of these collectors. Once they learned about the history of the brand, they saw a reflection of their own values in Tsuchiya Kaban. A reverence for handmade, a life object with a story, a functional piece that gets better and more interesting with time.

For Kat + Maouche, the preservation of the Berber culture and history is key to their business. We at Tsuchiya Kaban feel inspired by the story of this couple and share the sentiment that history is so important and the preservation of a culture is precious.

Latif pictured with his bike-friendly Randoseru backpack in Portland, OR

@katandmaouche / HP
33 NW 4th Ave Portland, OR
Noon to 5 Wed-Sun or by appt