Our business was built in our home, and for many years we ran it the way we ran our home.
One of the benefits about running a business as small as ours, especially at the beginning, is that having a low impact on our environment is built-in. Our footprint was small because we were small. We lived quiet, thoughtful lives and ran our business in much the same way. When we became frightened about the world, we donated to organizations doing work we admired, and felt the glow of doing good.
But of course it is not enough. Running a business with two people is wonderful, grueling, life-consuming work. After several years we took a step back to welcome our first child and during that time saw very clearly the many ways we needed to change.
As consumers, the practice of shopping responsibly and making the best use out of what we consume is a worthy goal. But as makers, our choices regarding materials, production methods, packaging, quantities, transport, and the partnerships we form affect the world on a global, if modest, scale. Our work is tied to the livelihoods of others and is responsible for the creation of goods whose life cycle and usefulness depends upon their being well made and thoughtfully designed.
The more solutions we find, the more holes we find, and we readjust again, taking interest and pleasure in it.
A few of the changes we’ve started 2020 with:
- Hand Tufted: Beginning in Summer 2020 with the Delicate Matters collection, we relaunched our Hand Tufted Rugs in 100% Tex wool, which is comprised of only the longest and finest fibers of New Zealand wool (think of it as New Zealand wool’s “Best Of”). Due to its fineness Tex yarn takes color with more vibrancy and sheds much less than other wool hand tufted rugs. Until this point we have used 100% Indian wool, which has shorter, thicker fibers than Tex wool. We initially worked with Indian wool because it was the option which allowed us to offer quality, natural fiber rugs at the most affordable price point. However, we felt it was time to upgrade to a fiber that will require less maintenance. We have absorbed as much of the price increase as possible for a superior product with minimal shedding.
- Hand Tufted Deadstock: As part of our commitment to reducing waste in manufacturing, starting in 2020 we are now using leftover yarn for our Deadstock rug collection, which we will add to intermittently as leftover yarn becomes available at our factory. A bit of background: the artisans we work with in India dye all yarn for our rugs - and the rugs of all the other companies they work with - to order. Since it can be difficult to gauge the precise amount to dye, there is often leftover yarn in very specific colors and amounts (sometimes a lot, sometimes as little as a pound). We initiated a program with our factory to reuse this leftover yarn, which would otherwise wait - until a new order called for it, or perhaps forever. Each of these rugs is limited edition, in many cases using colors and/or yarns that we don’t ordinarily incorporate. Pricing is based on the yarn quality, which differs depending on whether it’s Indian wool or New Zealand wool, or bamboo or viscose. Some styles will have 10 pieces, some will only have 1, but in all cases, once a style is sold out, it’s gone forever.
- Hemp: Hemp is an ecologically friendly plant that requires little water and no pesticides to grow. It is also renewable and biodegradable as well as naturally antimicrobial. And very durable. In short, hemp is the perfect fiber for the future we are embracing.
- Bathmats: Starting in Spring 2020 we are phasing out all our cotton bathmats with vinyl non-slip backing in favor of 100% organic pesticide-free bathmats with no backing, shipped from the factory in compostable bags. Although the organic cotton and biodegradable bags are more expensive, we decided to eat the difference and keep pricing at $60 the same because we believe in the changes we are making, and because we [can a heart go here?] you.
We are committed to eliminating plastic where possible in all packaging going forward. This is simpler for some categories than others, as you will see below. And once we make a change it may take a while to sell through the current or on-its-way stock, but be assured that change is coming!
- Rugs: Once our factory completes production and final inspection of our rugs, they are rolled and secured by plastic wrap, then placed in plastic tubing to await the truck that drives them to port, where they are shipped by boat in large cargo containers, before reaching our warehouse in Richmond, Virginia. While we reuse this tubing when we send rug orders to customers and our stores, we would rather not use plastic at all. But rugs, especially larger ones, take time and skill and resources to make. They travel long distances and then spend hours or weeks or months in between, and in both the travel and the waiting they are susceptible to dirt, rain, and rough handling. If we do not adequately protect the rugs, we cannot sell them, and that is waste too. But we want you to know we are searching for alternatives!
- Bathmats: Starting in Spring 2020 our bathmat packaging will be plastic-free, starting at the factory in India, where our 100% organic cotton bathmats will be packed into locally sourced compostable bags.
- Knit blankets: We are currently in the process of switching the factory supplied plastic bags to compostable packaging for all knit blankets going forward.
- Quilts: We currently ship in-stock quilts in a reusable zippered vinyl bag, but are exploring other options and expect to be plastic-free for quilts by 2021
- Pillows: We currently ship in-stock pillows in factory-supplied plastic bags, but are exploring other local options first to reduce overseas shipping. We expect to be plastic-free for pillow packaging by 2021.