A socially conscious brand, Obeetee, founded as Oakley Bowden & Taylor in 1920, is among the largest handmade rug-makers in India and one of the oldest hand-woven rug companies in the world. A rug can take months, and sometimes years, to complete.
Angelique O’ Brien, President Marketing, Obeetee Pvt. Ltd talks to The Goodwill Project.
What do Obeetee rugs stand for?
With unparalleled professionalism, relentless dedication to quality and highest regard for ethical and environmentally-safe manufacturing practices, Obeetee produces and globally distributes premier handwoven carpets providing timeless beauty and enjoyment for generations to come. Welfare of its artisans and satisfaction of its customers are an integral part of all Obeetee activities.
Most weavers who make rugs for Obeetee have weaving in their heritage; some are fifth and sixth generation weavers. Only the most skilled weavers work on Obeetee carpets. We employ their traditional skills to produce exquisite rugs in tune with contemporary trends. When our gifted designers create a design, trained artists create a color-plate which is an intricate and detailed representation of the pattern. The hand-spun and dyed yarn is provided to a weaver, with the hand-made design, to begin the creation of a beautiful rug. Rugs can take months, and sometimes years, to complete, with a weaver knotting 9,000 knots in a day. Each handmade rug is unique. These pieces are treasures to share in your home and over generations.
Are these heirloom pieces?
Depending on the density of knots and size of the final piece, it can take five months to over a year to create a rug. We call them Carpets for Life. Our handknotted rugs last a lifetime and more, if cared for properly. These heirloom rugs can be passed on to the next generation.
The Rashtrapati Bhawan is home to two of the largest handknotted rugs made in India. These were also made in record time, considering the sizes and weave of the rugs. Wooden trunks ideally suited to form the main structure of the looms had to be imported. A special building to house the looms and washing platforms was constructed just to make these huge rugs, the largest measuring 452 square metres and containing billions of intricate knots. The Government of India commissioned Obeetee to manufacture these rugs after another manufacturer, who was commissioned earlier to make these rugs, failed to even get this project started. The then President of India, Mr. R. Venkat Raman, was delighted to see the rugs installed before the end of his tenure and invited the Obeetee team and artisans to have tea with him in the Rashtrapati Bhawan. Other memorable rugs made by Obeetee adorn various prestigious Government properties, palaces and luxury hotels in India and abroad.
Who are the designers you work with? Do you follow international trends in terms of colour and design?
We have an extremely educated and talented group of designers in India and New York that create most of our collections. Often, we work with outside designers to breathe a unique spirit into a specific collection. Our team in India and New York attend every major textile trade-show and design event around the world to keep a finger on the pulse of new trends and colors.
OBEETEE is the first company in the handmade woolen carpet industry, which is a cottage industry, to have secured this prestigious certificate. It has completed almost 10 years as SA 8000 certified company. The standard SA 8000 lays down a code of conduct which has been evolved based on ILO conventions and related International Human Right Instruments. The key areas addressed by this comprehensive standard are—Child labor; forced labor; health and safety; freedom of association and right to collective bargaining; discrimination; disciplinary practices; working hours; control of supplier/sub-contractors; compliance of the applicable laws; remuneration/wages; effective implementation of the requirements and continual improvements.
To participate in Obeetee’s Bid For Change auction, where the entire proceeds go to charity, visit https://apps.facebook.com/obeeteeauction/ or register at www.obeetee.org.For this initiative, Obeetee has partnered with four charity organizations, The Project Mala Schools, Pratham, Ramakrishna Mission worldwide and Gopepur Village.