Inès Mesmar, at the microphone of Raphaëlle Le Baud for The Craft Project, presents the ambition of La Fabrique Nomade, the association which makes it possible to integrate refugee artisans into the ecosystem of French crafts.
Every day, it moves mountains to allow refugee craftsmen to exercise in France the profession and the material by which they are inhabited. Inès Mesmar tells, for The Craft Project podcast, how her family history led her to imagine La Fabrique Nomade, which she founded in 2016 and of which she is the general manager. The system designed by the association makes it possible to identify these former craftsmen, train them and offer them a working environment that restores their dignity.
A family story
Inès Mesmar’s history with arts and crafts is a family heritage. Dinandiers, carpenters, leatherworkers… “ To find the house of my grandparents in the maze of the medina of Tunis, I identified myself by the smell of the workshops “. An ethnologist by training, it was not until 2015 that she discovered that her mother was a former embroiderer. When she arrived in France, she did not find the ecosystem to continue working and completely abandoned her know-how.
Emphasize craft skills
For Inès Mesmar, it’s the click. In the midst of a migration crisis, she is convinced that practicing her profession is essential to finding her place in her host country. ” I had this feeling of waste. I wanted to go in search of these people who have craftsmanship and allow them to enhance their skills.. In a context where immigrants are oriented by default towards sectors in tension, professional downgrading often becomes a source of suffering. Inès is sure: with their years of experience and expertise, craftsmen must be able to find their place “.
Train, manufacture, support
The system of La Fabrique Nomade is based on 3 axes: identify and train craftsmen for 9 months; mobilize them on concrete projects and finally, support them when they start their own business. Installed today at the Viaduc des Arts in Paris, it is since 2021 that the association has developed its textile production activity. Inès Mesmar explains: “ Among the craftsmen who were referred to us by accommodation structures, more than 50% were dressmakers. Knowing that today 8,000 jobs are unfilled in this sector, there are real challenges for French relocation and reindustrialisation. La Fabrique Nomade is the missing link that connects these two needs. »
A universalist vision
La Fabrique Nomade brings together 28 nationalities and 20 skills. Inès Mesmar is delighted: “ we all speak the same language, that of gesture, of hands “. What unites all these craftsmen, who sometimes do not speak French, is their journey through the material, their passion for making. Inès Mesmar concludes: “ the vision that is carried by La Fabrique Nomade is a citizen’s dream: to allow these refugees to find their place in society and feel involved in it. […] Our partners are committed alongside us to the challenges of social inclusion and local manufacturing. »