Inspirational Woman: Kimberley Davidson | Founder, The Wee Souk

Kimberley Davidson

The Wee Souk curated a specially selected collection of homeware, gifts and accessories lovingly handcrafted by the spectacularly talented artisans of Tunisia.

Over 90% of their artisans are women and the remaining 10% are family businesses.

Kimberly and the team endeavour to work directly with artisans so that they are paid the full amount for their skill and time. Working with natural materials such as wool, palm leaf, silver and more recently cactus leather, they create pieces that are meant to last. They also seek to promote and preserve the unique talents and traditions that exist in Tunisia and promote business for good. 

Founder Kimberley hails from a background in fundraising & communications in the non-profit sector and her work has taken her around the world from Palestine to Chile to Sweden and of course, her beloved Tunisia, from which interest and passion her current business was created. 

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your current business.

I have a background in fundraising and communications in the non-profit sector, and my work has seen me travel around the world from Palestine to Chile to Sweden and of course, my beloved Tunisia.

The Wee Souk is a love affair, which began unexpectedly in 2012 when I spent a year in Tunisia volunteering, having failed to secure a placement in my first choice, Palestine.  It was ‘maktoub’ as they say in Arabic. Destiny.

I founded The Wee Souk, to create a chance to return even a little of the love given to me during my time there and to champion women, their work, and their worth.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, absolutely not. Even my route through education was unusual, leaving school very early (15), travelling, going to college and then eventually on to university.  I remember classmates getting very frustrated with me during higher education because I’d always take discussions into civil society issues and away from our subject, Festival and Events Management.  The only thing I knew was that it was important to me to feel every day that I was making a positive difference – and that money would never be my primary source of motivation.  I’ve moved through my career by process of elimination  – not that job, not that boss, not that organisation. Taking the leap to work for myself has been a game changer.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Myself.  A severe case of imposter syndrome, I always left jobs before I’d be ‘found out’  – not good enough, not competent enough, not hardworking enough.  I was the main roadblock to my career progression.  But I don’t believe that was my fault, I just had to (and continue to) unlearn lots of unhelpful belief systems.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Without a doubt being able to place orders with the women we work with.  I recently read an article that said women aren’t a charity, they’re a smart investment.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Seeing value where others are unable or unwilling to.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

Informally my friend Lauren, who owns her own modelling agency in London has been a great mentor and support to me in the business.

I’ve made mistakes and learned from them, but she has also helped me dodge a few with her own experience. I once mentored someone through a small Edinburgh-based charity set up to support people from minority ethnic groups to get into education and/or employment.  Mentoring brings clarity and focus, to both parties.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

Creating greater connections between women in the global south and north, based on mutual respect and understanding.  Sadly, Eurocentric feminism has too often overlooked the experience of women in the global south, creating tension and divisions.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Don’t be in such a rush and dream bigger. I just wanted a degree in timing with my peers but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do.  It never even occurred to me growing up that I could study overseas or go to a renowned university such as SOAS in London.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I’m working on expanding our offering to other small businesses and setting up as a wholesaler.  We also have some international clients in the pipeline which I’m really excited about.

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