Category Archives: Creating Arastan

The background and progress of the Arastan story

Looking Empty

Goodbye Plants!

Thanks to all our customers who have visited in the last couple of weeks – we have very few items left and the store has almost completely been emptied.

We even said goodbye to most of our plants yesterday…

But… …Nisha has been rummaging through her fabric collection from her travels and has still managed to make some more cushions and Turkish inspired ottomans! Email us for details if you are interested.

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The End of the Arastan Journey

Arastan Studio

That I enjoy what I do is well known. But what is less known is that my husband and I have financed the Arastan proof of concept knowing that we would need external investment to take our vision forward. Unfortunately, we have not been able to raise the investment we need. The business is too early and too small for professional investors, and we needed one person who has the financial wherewithal and an interest in artisanal livelihoods to come in as a financial partner and stay through to the stage we could go to professional investors or banks. We never found that person.

And so we close. Our last day for trading will be 31 January 2014 and everything we have in-store and online must go. Prices have been marked down to reflect this and there is many a bargain to be had.

The vision was to expand sourcing …

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Is a Hand-tufted Rug for Me?

Jaipur Rugs Tufting Centre in Mirzapur

Hand-tufted rugs are a new phenomenon, as compared to the hand-knotted carpets and dhurries we are more accustomed to seeing. A hand-tufted carpet is woven by inserting and pulling back strands of wool into a mesh canvas that is stretched on a frame – think wool tapestry in needlework class! The weaving is done using a manually operated tufting gun. When the ‘tufting’ is complete, the rug is washed and cut (if it is a cut-pile rug) and a woven canvas backing applied to the back with latex glue to hold the tufts in place (i.e. no knotting).

Tufted rugs are gaining in popularity. They require much less skill from the weaver (typically one week of training is sufficient) and so are easier, faster and, importantly therefore, cheaper to make. The cost can be 2-4 times lower than the equivalent hand-knotted rug and this has fuelled a frenzy of supply …

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Jaipur Rugs: A Remarkable Social Enterprise

NK Chaudhary

The Jaipur Rugs story began in 1978 in a village called Churu in rural Rajasthan. After graduating from college, Mr Nand Kishore Chaudhary decided not to work with his father in his shoe business and instead took a loan of Rs.5,000/- to set up two looms in his backyard. He worked shoulder to shoulder with nine artisans, selling to exporters in Jaipur. From this humble beginning, JAIPUR has grown to over 40,000 artisans across 600 villages selling its branded high quality rugs in over 35 countries.

When you meet Mr Chaudhary you are immediately struck by his humbleness. Even more so when you begin to understand his remarkable vision and ability to implement it. Carpet weaving is an old craft in India and carpets have been exported for centuries. For all of that time weaving has been male centric and somewhat exploitative in nature. For Jaipur to adopt a social enterprise model …

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Win a Carpet!

Tibetan Style Carpet - Deep Rust

Buy anything at Arastan between now and the end of our fantastic Jaipur Rugs sale and you could win this wonderful carpet! Hand-knotted in Tibetan style with New Zealand wool and art silk accents for a particularly luscious feel, it is a convenient 3’6” x 5’6” that will fit in any home.

Any purchase either online at www.arastan.com or in our Nandi Durga Road, Bangalore store from now until 21 December 2013 will get you an entry into the draw for this carpet. Buy again during the promotional period and you will get one more card entered into the pool, so you have many chances to win. We will contact the winner before Christmas to give them the good news!

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Growing Arastan

So, I have all but disappeared from this blog over the past few months. What have I been up to? I have been working on weaving our own collection of high quality cotton dhurries, starting to produce our own range of earthenware ceramic and focussing on growing Arastan. All incredibly exciting!

Putting together our own collections involve long lead times so I have to be patient – not a virtue I commonly exhibit! May was our best non-exhibition month to date and it prompted me to think about why. I think part of it is our authenticity. I started Arastan to share and that will always remain at the core of all we do. I recently wrote to customer service of a popular online store asking why they have a voucher scheme that is illegal under contract law and completely unnecessary. Customers buy because they like your products, I said, …

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Arastan at Good Earth in Mumbai

Pakistani Tribal Kurta Cushion, Arastan at Good Earth

We had a wonderful ten days at Good Earth in Bombay. Saw lots of our old customers and many new ones. The space we had was lovely although with carpets you simply cannot have enough. The Good Earth team were warm and gracious and our accessories looked so beautiful mixed with Good Earth’s furnishings. Then there was the master class in visual merchandising: Mrs Lal is brilliant at it and has clearly inculcated it in the organisation.

As well as the carpets, our latest collections of ottomans, cushions and ceramic were enthusiastically appreciated but the highlight was probably our tribal cushions – especially the bright and colourful tribal kurta cushions which all sold out!

Some of my favourite carpets from the collection (as you can tell I have many!):

If you liked anything you saw but didn’t get a chance to come back, contact me on nisha@arastan.com. We ship globally (well nearly …

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Myth and Design, as presented by Thomas Cole at Arastan

Scorpion Boteh

As it was once said, “We are who we were…” And it is this truism that Tom Cole, internationally acclaimed Central Asian carpet and textile expert, brought to life vividly and evocatively in the talk he gave for Arastan last Wednesday.

Tom talked with great depth and knowledge not just about the crafts but the historical, cultural and symbolic linkages that accompany them. As one who specialises in tribal weavings and textiles of artistic, historical and ethnographic significance from Central Asia, Tom is the position to do so very authoritatively. As he put it to an interested and involved audience, his presentation on ‘Myth and Design’ endeavoured to identify pervasive myths and symbolism at the core of our very existence as human beings – as illustrated in patterns and symbols spanning the breadth of the Asian continent.

Supported by interesting and relevant visuals, Tom talked about certain images and icons that …

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Arastan is hiring!

Are you passionate about crafts, design, textile, history and travel? Arastan is hiring! We are looking for a talented Content Writer cum Product Research Associate to join our small but growing business full-time. The role encompasses all content as well as product research and supplier management to support sourcing exciting new products. Effectively the work entails handling all aspects of content related to Arastan, that is both online and offline businesses. In particular this would include articles about the crafts we sell and the people/cultures/places behind them, product and category descriptions for the online store, press releases, exhibition material, marketing collateral etc.

If you have a desire to work in this field, and have a background in content writing, communication or design, ideally with some experience of either marketing, social media, SEO, blogging, graphic design or photography, then you could be an ideal fit for the job. The role is Bangalore-based …

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Reflections on 2012 – The Negatives!

Thank You Couriers and Octroi Inspectors

So there were a lot of good things to look back on from 2012, but it wasn’t all rosy…

Suppliers

Whilst artisans have been great to work with I have also had my share of disappointments, such as the Moroccan supplier who took my upfront payment and failed to deliver a third of the goods. In India we have found a few gems (like the brass inlay work) but have had to work through many potential suppliers who may produce great stuff but have been unreliable to work with for various reasons, including doubling the cost to me when I tried to repeat order, or complaining that I am being unreasonable when I reject their badly damaged goods through insufficient packaging. We ensure that we select only high-quality products for Arastan, and therefore demand attention to detail and quality work from our suppliers, and many do not fit the grade!

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  • Welcome to Arastan

    Arastan was an online store that curated rare and handpicked treasures from exotic bazaars along the ancient silk route. Unfortunately we ceased trading in early 2014.

    You can read about the reasons for closure.

    You can still browse some of the products we used to have via the category links above, although none of these are available for purchase.

    Relive our travels and stories by browsing our articles and archives from the menus below.

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