ecoFiber Custom Rugs
Phyllis Ripple, founder of Boulder, Colorado’s 11-year-old ecoFiber Custom Rugs, knows child labor isn’t just an idea, it’s a very real and very destructive practice. With her husband and children, Phyllis has lived in Pakistan, Indonesia and Egypt and has traveled throughout the developing world where she has observed the adverse effects of children working first hand. These encounters inspired her to align ecoFiber Custom Rugs with GoodWeave?.
EcoFiber Custom Rugs specializes in Tibetan wool, mohair, silk, hemp, nettle and cactus rugs– all made by skilled adult weavers. Everything in the making of the rugs is done in Nepal and by hand. “We like our light natural and choose to dye, spin, card, weave, trim and wash our rugs during the daylight hours as often as possible,” Phyllis says. “This helps reduce the number of noisy and smoky generators in the Kathmandu Valley.” Choosing to use vegetable dyes exclusively because “it’s the right thing to do”, ecoFiber’s stated mission is to embrace sustainability wherever they can find it.
A neutral palette of natural, earthy colors give ecoFiber’s rugs what Phyllis calls a “quiet appeal and organic look.” The subtle tones in many rugs can be traced to ecoFiber’s use of hemp and nettle, whose colors vary with the season. Discussing the special softness of her colors, Phyllis points to the “emptiness of the color” in the work of her favorite painter Mark Rothko as inspiration. “The color is not the destination; it is an entrance to something else. We try to accomplish that with our rugs.”
A student of art history, Phyllis fell in love with rugs while living in Pakistan decades ago. She was swept away by the beauty and intricacy of the workmanship. She and her husband spent whole afternoons with rug dealers, sitting on the floor drinking tea, looking at rugs, and learning about them. Today, she speaks of rugs as if each has a life of its own, and she still cherishes a photo she took of a Nain carpet she saw in Karachi. “I remember that carpet as if it was yesterday. It was just magnificent,” she says. Her goal is to make ecoFiber Custom Rugs as memorable for her clients. One particular favorite was woven with nine-millimeter black mohair. “It is a sexy and very luxurious rug,” she says.
Phyllis intentionally doesn’t use weaving factories, preferring instead to have weavers work in their own villages on communal looms. In that way, she says, families can stay together. Phyllis’s own mother and father grew up on family farms, so she understands what it means to work as a family and live close to the land. She considers working with the weavers to be a privilege and wants to do what she can to help them improve their lives. Through her partnership with GoodWeave, she feels empowered by being connected to like-minded professionals who are also committed to improving living conditions for weavers and their children.
For more information, visit www.ecofibercustomrugs.com.