Spotlight On: ecoFiber Custom Rugs
Boulder, ColoradoFor Phyllis Ripple, founder of Boulder, Colorado’s six-year-old ecoFiber Custom Rugs, child labor isn’t just an idea. It’s a very real and very destructive practice. With her husband and children, Phyllis has lived in Pakistan, Indonesia and Egypt and has traveled throughout the developing world where she has seen plenty of children working. Her first-hand experience with child labor inspired her to align ecoFiber Custom Rugs with GoodWeave®.
Phyllis’s company specializes in rugs of Tibetan wool, mohair, silk, hemp, nettle and cactus — rugs made by skilled adult weavers. Everything in the making of the rugs is done in Nepal and by hand. As she says, “We’re really low tech. We don’t even rely on electricity!”
A neutral palette of natural, earthy colors gives ecoFiber’s rugs what Phyllis calls a “quiet appeal and organic look.” The subtle tones in many rugs can be traced to ecoFiber’s use of hemp and nettle, whose colors vary with the season. Discussing the special softness of her colors, Phyllis points to the “emptiness of the color” in the work of her favorite painter Mark Rothko as inspiration. “The color is not the destination; it is an entrance to something else. We try to accomplish that with our rugs.”
A student of art history, Phyllis fell in love with rugs while living in Pakistan. She was swept away by the beauty and intricacy of the workmanship. She and her husband spent whole afternoons with rug dealers, sitting on the floor drinking tea, looking at rugs, and learning about them. Today, she speaks of rugs as if each has a life of its own, and she still cherishes a photo she took of a Nain carpet she saw in Karachi. “I remember that carpet as if it was yesterday. It was just so magnificent,” she says. Her goal is to make ecoFiber Custom Rugs as memorable for her clients. One rug she especially loves was created by the company’s weavers with nine-millimeter mohair. “It is just a sexy and very luxurious rug,” says Phyllis.
Phyllis Ripple doesn’t use weaving factories and prefers to have weavers work in their own villages on communal looms. In that way, she says, families can stay together. Phyllis’s own mother and father grew up on family farms, so she understands what it means to work as a family and live close to the land. She feels it is a privilege to work with the weavers and wants to do what she can to help them improve their lives. Through her partnership with GoodWeave, she feels empowered by being connected to like-minded professionals who are also committed to improving living conditions for weavers and their children.
For more information, visit www.ecofibercustomrugs.com.
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