How Technology Has Changed the Handmade Oriental Rug Industry
Part Two – How Rugs Get to Market

Advances in technology have dramatically impacted the way handmade rugs are brought to the market. Not only have printed catalogs been replaced by cds or online catalogs, many buyers are able to limit their trade show travel time and expense and simply place orders from established manufacturers from the comfort of their office chair, pretty much the same way consumers purchase items online.

Nejad Rugs had two beautiful wholesale trade showrooms in Atlanta, Georgia and High Point, North Carolina. These huge multi building complexes housed thousands of big and small manufacturers and importers. Twice a year in each location the trade markets are held and retailers from around the country and world attend. Before the internet took hold, it was like watching an empty city fill up for five days and empty in one. Sometimes I would go to our High Point Showroom off market and it was like the proverbial ghost town, half expecting to see tumble weeds blowing down the main streets. Ten show days a year really wasn’t the best use of very costly real estate. Our High Point, NC showroom was my favorite trade location because furniture design is another passion of mine, and High Point was the furniture capital of the world. 
Whenever I could find time to steal away I would visit my friends at the
furniture and accessory showrooms. Baker, Henderdon, Hinkle Harris, Kindel, Karges, Stickley, Matland Smith and my favorite Italian Furniture Maker, Giemme Francesco Molon. My designs worked so well with Giemme Francesco Molon they used my rugs for their gorgeous catalog as seen on their website. 

It was fantastic to walk the furniture galleries of some of the most talented
interior designers and imagine the next rug collections to coordinate with the latest furniture and fabric trends. Many of my rug designs were conceived during these trade shows. In High Point, we had taken over the Shaw Rugs space in the IHFC building. We had really great neighbors including Oriental Weavers, Momeni, Bokara Rug, Couistan, Jaunty, and Mohawk. It was always a pleasure seeing these tremendously talented and hard working people during the shows. Unfortunately Oriental Rug retail stores have a reputation for unprofessional, super aggressive
salespeople more interested in ripping apart their competitors than talking about their own business, making the buying experience confusing, stressful and unpleasant for customers. This is something you will never find at our Doylestown, Bucks County rug gallery and was also the complete opposite with the Oriental Rug Importers during the trade shows. Although we were all competitors, the level of mutual respect and cooperation was tremendous. If one importer didn’t have what a buyer was looking for, they would often send them to another importer who did. I am very fortunate to have made lifelong friends with many of these people and wish each of them continued success.

Our Atlanta trade showroom was another beautiful space with again many of the leading rug importers as neighbors including Safavieh, Feizy Rugs, Home Fries, Jerry Aziz, Lofty and Sons, Megerian, Moosavi Rugs, Peel, Renaissance, Shalom Brothers and directly across the hallway Kalaty. Because Atlanta also had an accessory trade show, I was able to see the latest designs in from home fashion icons such as Ralph Lauren and Barbara Berry to name two.

But technology made our trade showrooms redundant. More and more of our buyers stopped attending these quarterly shows and started ordering from our digital catalogs. This meant we didn’t have to wait three months to see our buyers to show them our new Nejad Rugs’ designs. We could send emails and JPEGS the moment a new design was ready to be introduced – all from of my Bucks County design studio Not only did this save everyone a tremendous amount of money previously spent on
expensive air travel and hotels, buyers could spend more time on product selection and less time running from showroom to showroom.

For buyers who prefer to see our rugs in person, we will make travel arrangements for them to come to Philadelphia and visit our warehouses in Doylestown Township, Pa. and Quakertown, Pa. I have found that this makes for a much more personalized and relaxing buying experience for our Nejad Rugs dealers. Although, I still think trade shows play an important role in the market place, they are not the necessity they once were before the age of the Internet. We still may decide to open another
trade showroom at some time in the future but for now, the internet is working for our wholesale business just fine.

Happy Rug Shopping!

How Technology Has Changed the Handmade Oriental Rug Industry
Part One – The Design Process

Last week I lived up to my New Year’s resolution and began a long
delayed project of scanning decades’ worth of oriental rug import
and design documents that completely fill one large room of file
cabinets. My goal was to clear up space and have easier and more
permanent access to these materials. What I got was a walk down
memory lane and a reminder of how technology has dramatically
changed the way handmade oriental rugs get to market.

Imagine this. I wake up one morning with wonderful design ideas
for a new Oriental Rug collection. After several weeks of drawing
designs and painstakingly rendering them in color, I airmail
these designs to my overseas weavers to have 3’ X 5’ corner
samples made. (If you have visited my Doylestown, Pennsylvania
showroom you would have undoubtedly seen many of these lying around.)
After waiting usually three months, a package arrives with my rug
corner samples. Opening these packages is always exciting yet nerve
wrecking because the rug samples could be better than I had imagined
or a disaster. I am happy to say I have had many more positive than
negative package opening experiences. Even when a rug sample does
turn out well, I still repeat the sample making process two to six
more times to fine tune colors and pattern placement. A full scale
rug usually in a 6’ x 9’ size is woven and shipped to me for evaluation.
Only after my final approval does a rug design go into production,
sometimes taking over twelve months before receiving the rugs to sell
at market.

Fast forward a bit…THE FAX MACHINE is invented. This was big, I mean
really big. Now I could cut my rug design charts into carefully numbered
8×11 sheets and fax these rug maps overseas with about ten pages of color
note diagrams. Because my weavers and I work with the same sets of yarn
colors, we could change rug shades easily. Sample correction drawings
could also be faxed. The fax machine knocked off about ten weeks from
the design process.

Fast forward again, and the INTERNET becomes available to the public. 
Now, all of my rug designs are scanned in color and emailed in a matter
of seconds.  My hand drawn corner designs are easily copied and pasted
to scale. (If my rug design is asymmetrical, I still hand draw the entire
design.) Woven sample corners are photographed and emailed back to me. 
Needed sample corrections are instantaniously transmitted and entire
finished rugs are photographed overseas in close up detail for my approval.
What used to take sometimes over a year is done now in a matter of a
few months. Of course the actual hand weaving of the rugs still takes
the same amount of time it did centuries ago… and that is just fine by me.

Happy Rug Shopping!