When Omar launched his rug company, Rug Artisan, there was not a moment’s doubt in his mind that any success the company would have must benefit all the people working with him. And that success, most emphatically, must include the weavers. That promise he made to himself is a reality today not only because of the way in which the company’s benefit plan is structured but also, in part, through his collaboration with GoodWeave. “Goodweave does a really good job bringing the weavers under their umbrella of social accountability,” he says. Accountability and justice are his guiding lights as he continues to develop a brand that brings a broad range of custom rugs in a variety of different premium yarns and styles to consumers at reasonable prices.
Omar admits that founding a new rug company was a challenging task given that he was more than a bit of a neophyte in the industry. His training, after all, was in physiotherapy and science not business or design. He did, however, have sales experience in the leather industry which he was certain would be useful for him in his new undertaking. Chuckling, he notes that although he didn’t have years of industry experience under his belt, a big help was that his wife, Sarah, was already working in her family’s half-century old rug business so he was not without support. A self-described quick study, Omar applied himself diligently to learning about rugs with the same intensity that he employed studying science at Oxford. “I certainly did my homework and that helped me understand the industry.”
That scholarly approach to the work along with the collaboration of a committed design team has led to rugs such as Moda, a piece that takes its inspiration from Turkish architecture and Ottoman history. Duende, he says, is inspired by nature and plays on the way water reflects its surroundings. In the case of Duende, the blues and beiges of an abstract pond reflect the neighboring trees and foliage. Omar says though all the rugs are like his children, his favorite is the colorful floral, Azalea. He is clearly a person who loves his work and even waxes a bit poetic about the rug. “Oh the flowers. It just is so beautiful!”
Perhaps even more beautiful, he says, is the joy he gets from providing Rug Artisan weavers with bonuses, medical insurance and contributions to their children’s education through what he calls the Rug Artisan Initiative. He looks to a deepening relationship with GoodWeave as well, an organization he says has done a “remarkable job taking the child laborer completely out of the industry.”
For more information see: www.rugartisan.com