Weaver believes every space should evoke meaning, celebrate life and connect people. Crafted by hand from 100% pure New Zealand wool the rugs are lovingly shaped to perfection by Nepali Artisans. We put entrepreneur Rachel Alexander, Managing Director of Weaver, in the spotlight and chatted about her sustainable rugs and her ideals and beliefs as a business founder.
AF: Tell us about your background and what lead you on your path of launching Weaver.
I worked in the commercial carpet industry for over 12 years as both a sustainability manager and in sales. I drew a lot of inspiration from the products I was working with but I wanted to go further and move into a 100% natural fibre ethos. I had this idea of a wool renaissance about 5 years ago and an injection of new natural and plant-based fibre technology into our homes. That’s where Weaver was born. It happened organically. I saw a need for more natural every day products that weren’t just for high end homes. We need to be making natural textiles more accessible to everyone.
AF: What are the biggest challenges with starting a new business? What would you do differently if you could?
The main challenge has been building the companies systems and processes inline with my own set of beliefs. I’m a nature baby at heart so it had to feel right and do no harm. This meant finding the right people to work with that understood what I was trying to achieve. It was important to me we were a zero waste company from the start and that every rug we sold was compostable. I also wanted the rugs to be child labor free and fair paid. Rug manufacturing is one of the largest child labor industries in the world so I needed to be certain the people making the rugs worked in a way that was inline with Weavers beliefs. What would I do differently? Fully trust the process. There would be times I would want to rush ahead and push hard to make things happen. Learning to allow everything to fall into place and fully trust the process is key. The best ideas come when you’re relaxed and allowing things to happen as apposed to driving things forward hard.
AF: What are your products and who is your customer?
My customer is the conscious home. People who care about how the product is made and its social and ecological impact. Basically people who care about the energy behind making the rugs. If you did plastic free July then you’d be buying Weaver rugs. The rugs themselves are made out of 100% NZ wool by Nepali Artisans. I wanted to work with Nepali artisans because they have honed their craft and really know how to work with wool. The process of shaping the wool by hand using stone and wood gives each rug its own unique quirks. It’s similar to the difference between hand made pottery and machine made, you want to see each rugs character and wobbly bits. That’s part of its charm.
AF: What is the best way to care for your rugs?
Treat them like you would treat a normal woollen carpet. Vacuum it regularly and use a mild detergent and room-temperature water for spills. HINT: If you really make a mess of things you can turn the rug over. They are double sided. At the end of the rugs life you can send it to a wool recycler or pull it apart and add it to your compost. Wool breaks down in about 9 months.
AF: How has the fibre industry evolved over the past 5-10 years?
Consumers are becoming more aware of their choices bringing about a rise in natural, plant-based, compostable and rapidly renewable fibres. We are seeing new biodegradable fibres being developed from resources like soy beans, corn and pineapple husk as well as a revival of ancient less well known fibres such a banana fabric. It’s an exciting time in the textile industry. There is real value being placed on natural fibres that solve end of life problems and plastic micro-fibre pollution.
AF: Who or what are your biggest influences in life, style and business?
Life: My meditation teacher. If you can meditate you can handle anything.
Style: My girlfriends, our chat feed is constantly clogged with furniture and design inspo. It’s hectic.
Business: It sounds slightly unconventional but I apply a lot of spiritual books to business. I believe the more centred, calm, kind and clear headed you are the better at business you are. My old friend Tess Dunford also inspired me with her company Don’t Be A Doormat. She and I were both battling Chronic Fatigue and she started her company from bed. She broke all the rules with the work/life structure and started the most creative cool company.
AF: How do you see Weaver progressing in 5 years time?
I see a huge part of Weavers roll as being educational. I have a degree in Environmental Science so I have an opportunity to communicate clearly the impacts of fibres and furnishings on human health and the environment. In terms of product development, I want to explore rapidly renewable plant based fibres, hemp, organic cottons and cleanly biodegrading products. The key term for me is “cleanly biodegradable”. Just because something is biodegradable doesn’t mean it’s good for the soil.
AF: Tell us about your experience working with Asset Factory.
Asset Factory have helped give my products an edge. Images are EVERYTHING when it comes to an online store. I’d say invest in good quality images above everything. They are your front line sales tool. Asset Factory make it super easy. I was literally in an out with in an hour and the images arrived in my inbox all polished, clear cut and pretty.
Get your Weaver rug here: www.weavershop.co.nz