Spotlight on Sukhi Rugs
Today's spotlight is on Sukhi, bringing rugs direct from the maker in countries such as Nepal, Morocco, Turkey and India. I absolutely love this business concept (not because it is the first time it has been done, MADE.COM bring you furniture direct from the maker), but because it supports makers, allowing them to earn a decent wage and have appropriate working conditions, in countries where this may not always be possible.
Moreover, it brings status, to the worker and their family within their community, empowering them and bringing with it confidence. I especially love that your rug comes with the name of the maker in the packaging, so that you can look them up online, perhaps to say thanks or share a photo, which you can also do on Sukhi Rugs' Instagram page via their hashtag #sukhi and via the website.
This is a really interesting story, so I will leave you to read on.
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
Sukhi was founded by me and Wouter Durville. The idea of bringing handmade carpets made with love, became a reality after our trip to Nepal a couple of years ago. What is crucial for us and sets us apart from other rug sellers is that our customers are purchasing directly from the makers, with no one in between and with maximum transparency.
Every rug comes with a tag that has the name of the person who made it. Customers can look up the artist’s email address on our website and get in touch personally, and send for example a picture of their new rug. That way, from a small village in Morocco, Turkey, India or from Nepal, artisans can see what their creations look like in their new homes anywhere in the world. It is amazing how this job at Sukhi makes them confident and strong and how it changes their status inside the family and the community. Every rug you buy positively impacts not only one person – the artisan who crafts it for you – but also their children and extended family.
The reason why I wanted to set this up is that I wanted to share these beautiful work with the rest of the world, how amazing that you can order a rug, which is especially made for you while sitting comfortable at home behind your computer, laptop or via your phone? The artisans are so happy that we provide them work, not for one time but continuously, that is very motivating for me
2. How did you start up?, kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?
I have studied textile design in the Netherlands and that is where my passion for the use of handmade techniques comes from. During our travels (I would highly recommend you to visit Nepal, such a beautiful country), we discovered that the handicraft is truly amazing and we wanted to share this with the rest of the world so that everyone can have access to, for example, our felt ball rugs. The vibrant colors and the high quality of the felted balls really jumped out.
We decided to set up two workshops in two different parts of Kathmandu. The women who work for us live within a walking distance from their workplace. Approximately half of the women make the felted balls, and the other half make the rugs. Others handle the supervision and training. As soon as they are done with making the balls or rugs, they bring the products back to the workshop.
We sell rugs from Nepal, Patchwork rugs from Turkey, Beni Ourain carpets from Morocco and Felt and wool rugs from India.We believe that the talented people who make our Sukhi rugs should have a great pay and excellent working conditions. That is why we visit our artisans regularly. We are very closely involved with every step from ordering, making and sending it to the buyer, directly from the maker.
3. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
As we are working from a distance with our Artisans, communication can sometimes be challenging. We always want the best for our customers so we need to communicate often with the Artisans, but at the same time communicating with artisans can be difficult since majority can’t read. However, we always make it work and are always amazed by the beautiful results! We create videos to show our customers the hard work that goes into each rug and therefore it takes time to create your carpet, or better said your piece of Art. Would you like to see more about the social impact behind our rugs? Watch our Nepali video here.
4. What help was missing for you?
I love our artisans, although we do not speak the same language we do communicate with our hands/ face expressions and pictures. I appreciate their work and culture (and food :)) So what help was missing? Not being able to speak their languages
5. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t been trading that long?
I always look at the positive side, of course in the first year not everything went smooth but working on your own business and being a entrepreneur ask for certain skills, never hold down your head and keep looking at the positive and bright side helps you to solve difficult situat
6. What have you learnt?
Patience, patience and more patience :)
7. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
I never doubted when starting Sukhi, and learned on the way, it was not always easy and never will be but in the end: it feels as if I am the mother taking care of a little baby: to let it grow in peace you need to constantly develop yourself and adjust if needed. Which makes it a never ending - always interesting lifestyle. You will wake up and go to bed with it which I love: you must love this lifestyle and give it a full 100% to get the best out of it and keep your eyes and ears open. My best advice is to start and never be afraid to ask (get a mentor if possible!) - I always stimulate our team members to ask, this encourages creative thinking.
8. And what do you enjoy the most?
We love focusing on the traditional techniques; with that in mind we give our designs a modern twist. How? We let our customers choose the color and design. I get inspired by our travels and the already existing ancient designs. The Nepali, Turkish, Indian and Moroccan culture is very different from our culture but that makes it so inspiring: the way the Moroccans work with symbols for example: the designs from our Malika rug tell stories from each weaver’s life or reference natural events, from birth and fertility to rural life. Here you can see our makers from Morocco: https://www.sukhirugs.com/our-team-in-morocco
9. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
1. I love my Job and I do not find it hard. I find it challenging in a positive way.
Below you can see my Beni Ourain rug from Sukhi in my bathroom. Having visited Morocco with my husband, a number of years ago, I wanted to choose something that reminded me of a beautiful and friendly country. This one was made by Merin and I love the quality of the rug, which feels thick and cosy underfoot and the brown and white stands out against my white tiles but fits harmoniously into the bathroom colour scheme and vibe.
I have been nominated in the category of Best Newcomer for the Amara Blog Awards. If you enjoy this blog and would like to vote for me you can here.
The Girl with The Green Sofa