Landry and Arcari
Julie Arcari-Cook laughs as she explains the complexities and joys of working with her father and two brothers in the family’s New England-based rug business, Landry and Arcari. “The great thing is you get to be with your family every day, but of course we have our differences,” the company CEO admits. “Sometimes our debates remind me of the dinner table of our childhood.” One thing that was absolutely not a family debate was the decision to join GoodWeave®. Says Julie, “We care about the people who make the rugs. It’s a natural responsibility for us to be part of GoodWeave.”
That sense of social responsibility and a love of rugs were handed down by the elder Arcaris to their offspring. Jerry Arcari, who has sold Oriental rugs since high school, founded the company in 1981 with his wife Connie, an interior designer. “Our father always said, ‘If only the rugs could talk. What stories they could tell,'” says Jeff Arcari, who is the company’s Oriental rugs manager and in charge of production of the lines in India, Nepal and Pakistan. He inherited his father’s curiosity about rugs, he says, and doesn’t merely read about them but actually “reads” the weaving patterns in the old carpets, which he explains “document nomadic tribal histories.”
The Arcari family wants to be the purveyor of handmade rugs, but, according to Jeff, it also wants “to educate our customers so they understand each rug … its history and who made it.” That is an enormous task given the magnitude of the Arcaris’ diverse collection of hand-woven antique and contemporary Oriental rugs from around the world.
If the Arcaris spend considerable time educating their customers, who include a number of sports celebrities, they spend equal time working to educate the children of the weavers. They achieve this both through GoodWeave and through the company’s support to the Barakat Society, which has built schools for the children of Indian weavers, and through Zamin, a project Jeff started. “The bottom line,” says Jeff, “is every child deserves an education.”
Jeff and an in-house designer are responsible for Landry and Arcari’s custom designs. They draw their inspiration from a variety of sources such as books, fabrics and art, but the richest sources are trips overseas, including stays with the weavers’ families in the villages. Jeff points to Landry and Arcari’s “Panel Fish,” for example, which was inspired by folk designs he saw while staying in a village in Pakistan. “We just all sat around that night drawing fish and laughing. It was some kind of village fish-drawing jam!”
The human effort that goes into the rugs has captured the hearts of the entire Arcari family, and they hope their customers will come to appreciate it too. Says Julie, “We care about the people involved in each process of this art from shearing the sheep and cleaning the wool to weaving the rug. Beyond the beauty of rugs is the human effort that goes into them. That’s what we love.”
See photos of the Arcari family and their collection at www.landryandarcari.com.