Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy 20th Birthday Creative Matters!!

What a flurry of activity November has afforded Creative Matters! More than a week after our 20th Anniversary Gala Fundraiser, I finally have a chance to sit down and write about our fantastic night.

First of all, we’re 20! Happy Birthday Creative Matters! Congratulations to Carol and Donna for such a great feat – and here’s to 20 more, right? So, the night went off without a hitch and we saw just over 500 people come through our event at Gallery 345 to help us celebrate. Our long and arduous hours of installing the show, that saw the whole staff (and some of their parents!?) hammering and hanging, sweeping and cleaning, paid off. The gallery was transformed from a very promising canvas into a feast for the eyes (and hearts!) that displayed our new collection of hand-knotted carpets as well as a retrospective of 20 years worth of CMI designs and photographs.

One of the other big highlights of the evening was the unveiling of Hariti, the responsible, luxury rug that was created as a fund-raising piece that will be raffled to benefit RugMark. RugMark, as you know, works to end illegal child labor in the carpet industry in South Asia and offers educational opportunities to children who are rescued from carpet mills. The carpet is stunning and we sold a ton of raffle tickets. We’re nearing our goal but we’re still not there – so buy buy buy! You still have 13 days left! I can't even tell you what an opportunity this is - the chance to win a hand knotted, one-of-a-kind, wool and silk carpet - for $25!

In addition to all of this we finally had the opportunity to meet a RugMark representative, in the flesh! Heather Joseph, RugMark’s Development Officer (who is lovely) flew in from Washington, D.C. She came and spoke and worked the room to spread the word. And as a special treat, Heather was joined by Robin Romano, the talented photographer (and amazing speaker) who shot the Faces of Freedom show that hung at Gallery 345 in conjunction with Floored to be 20. The photos were breath taking and we were so happy that they could share in our celebration.

Great big thank-yous to everyone who helped to make our party perfect! Stay tuned for more party pics on our next post "The Guest List".

Stay warm (curled up on a wool carpet)!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Memories of Nepal...

With the RugMark Raffle well underway, many of you may be curious as to the origins of the carpet Hariti. We know that it was inspired by a photograph taken by Carol while on her first visit to Nepal and that the name translates as "Protectress of Children" in Tibetan. When asked about the photo and her trip to South Asia, Carol spoke about her feelings and memories from that sunny say in October 2000:

"The inspiration for our rug Hariti was taken from a photo I took in Kathmandu at Durbar Square in October 2000. It was my first trip to Nepal and I was overcome by the spiritual connectedness of the country and the people.

This photo of a child in the temple area surrounded by the pigeons was a thrilling moment. The cooing of the pigeons, the relative quiet in the temple area and then stepping out to the mayhem of the street, foreign yet oddly familiar. People confirming their beliefs in the temple, turning the prayer wheels, lighting candles, oddly similar to going to church in Canada.

I'm so happy that the rug has been made and has the beautiful energy that reminds me of that October journey." - Carol Sebert

There you have it. The finished carpet is absolutely breath taking - and so are the photos but, you have to see it in person. Hariti will be hanging at Gallery 345 from November 13th to 15th as a part of our 20th Anniversary gallery show, Floored to be 20. Tickets are available by visiting the RugMark website. All proceeds go to support this great cause to end child labour in South Asian carpet mills. Thanks in advance for your support!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Just a little reminder...

Good morning everyone!

The countdown is on to win Hariti, Tibetan for “Protectress of Children”, an original and responsible, luxury rug designed by Creative Matters.

All proceeds from the raffle go directly to RugMark, a non-profit organization working to end child labour in South East Asia. The cost of only two tickets ($50.00) offers a child a full year of education.

If you have already purchased a ticket for Hariti, here is a great photo of the hand made wool and silk area rug, graced by furniture courtesy of Klaus by Nienkamper.

Visit the Creative Matters blog for the inspiration and progress of this journey. Send a child to school, give an opportunity for an educated future and hope to win Hariti.

Click Here to Purchase your Ticket for Hariti!

Have a great weekend and keeping checking in for more updates!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Cover Story

We were delighted to see one of our projects on the cover of October 2008 Metropolitan Home this month titled "Asian Fusion". Working with the talented Shamir Shah on this Soho apartment, we assisted on textures and offered suggestions on some of the natural fibers. Needless to say, the rug was woven at one of our RugMark certified mills in Nepal. The striped rug was a combination of wool, hemp and silks in browns and gold tones with a bright persimmon accent.

Beautiful photos, beautiful magazine - here are a few shots of the residence and carpet taken by Met photographer Antoine Bootz.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hariti Coverage!

Hi All,

Over the past week or so, we've been getting some good responses to our cause as "Hariti" takes centre stage.

Arren Williams, who has kindly posted us on his blog, is a freelance stylist, editor and trend reporter. His work can be seen regularly in the National Post, Flare and Canada's top decor mags. Arren is also a regular guest expert on Citytv's CityLine.

We were also highlighted in the National Post's Home section this past Saturday:

We'll keep updating you as more coverage comes in!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Big Day is Here!

Hi everyone, this is Donna Hastings and I am pleased to let you know that on our trip to Nepal a few weeks ago, Carol and I saw the completed "Hariti". It makes a strong statement, which we love. The colours are vibrant and rich, and current with the trend to more colourful living spaces. It could make a dramatic statement to the home or office and I can imagine it surrounded by rich maroons and corals on the walls and furniture. Handspun Tibetan yarn with silk details just make it sparkle!

As of today the raffle tickets for Hariti are available for sale. Just click here to purchase tickets via a secure donation system through RugMark, powered by Groundspring. The tickets are $25 each, 5 for $100, or 12 for $200. Now is your chance to make a difference. It's amazing that only $50.00, the price of 2 tickets will cover the costs of sending 1 child to school for a year!

Creative Matters is proud to support such a worthy cause, and offer the opportunity for you to win a custom designed rug.



Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Letters to Canada Pt.1

I'm happy to announce that Carol and Donna arrived home unscathed, albeit a bit late from their cross continent journey to South Asia. A "Storm Signal 9" typhoon called Nuri decided that she was going to swing by the Hong Kong airport where the ladies had a stopover, and wreak a little havoc. During their extended stay they took the time to write some great emails while the images were still fresh in their heads. Over the next few days we'll be sharing some of these writings and beautiful photos in preparation for September 8th (this Monday!) when raffle tickets officially go on sale, for a chance to win Hariti. As I mentioned before, she's all finished and we have photos...but you can't see those yet - you'll have to wait until Monday! In the meantime, here's some food for thought:

Donna and I went to the RugMark facilities today to see with our own eyes where the children are living who have been rescued from the looms and factories in Kathmandu. It's a four storey building with a large playground that was, unfortunately, not usable at the time. It's rainy season here in Nepal so full of puddles, but one can imagine great games of soccer taking place. Many of the residents are young boys, as they are the more valuable child workers because they are strong at a young age. However, there are a number of girls here.

We were introduced to one lovely young girl, probably around the age of 11, who had been rescued just the day before. She had already woven 2 rugs but now has a chance for an education and a better life. She was not yet dressed in the uniform that all the children wear, a maroon shirt with navy pants. Boys and girls alike wear the same.

We toured all the facilities, from the bedrooms, which look a little like what we have in summer camp. There are bunk-beds in each room with around 10 beds in per space. The rooms were very clean and very tidy, the blankets all rolled up at the head of each bed with the pillow, shoes carefully lined up at the door. There's a cupboard for additional clothing, but these children do not have any personal items.

School books for studying were on some of the beds, rest time for some includes math review. There is a library where the children all meditate for half an hour each day, then can read and enjoy quieter games. The kitchen, which had delicious smells wafting through, was staffed by a number of women, and there was a room adjacent that was the dining hall. In total there are about 40 children at this facility.

In the kitchen however, there were 5 older boys who had gone through the program at RugMark, had completed their Grade 12 level and now have sponsors for university in Kathmandu. It looked like they'd returned for a homecooked meal!

The three classrooms are simple with schoolbooks, tables and benches and a blackboard. The children are fast tracked to grade three level and depending on their competency they either continue on for the potential of university education with help from sponsors or are trained for vocational work such as carpentry.

We discussed with the managers about the cost of each student's education, and for around $50.00/ year they recieve their uniforms, school books and education. That works out to two tickets for the raffle of Hariti. Imagine, 2 tickets sends a child to school for one year! It was a great tour and wonderful to see the facilities. We are delighted to see first hand the great work being done by RugMark and feel so good about contributing directly to helping the children.

Namaste, Carol and Donna

Friday, August 22, 2008

Yarn Spinning 101

Happy Friday Everyone! I can barely believe that its the end of the week AND that, as we speak, Carol and Donna are in the sky, flying home from Nepal. They sound like they have some pretty amazing stories to tell. This is a little excerpt from an email from the ladies about their visit to the factory that produces the yarn for our carpets. Sounds like Carol and Donna had a little lesson in spinning yarn (and when we get those picture, I'll be sure to post them!) :)

On Tuesday we were able to visit a factory where the hand carding and hand-spinning of the beautiful Tibetan yarn takes place. After watching the skilled women who turn a pile of fluff into weaving yarn we tried our hand at it. Now, having seen it, first hand, we appreciate much more, the skill of the spinners. By hand they feed the yarn onto a simple spinning wheel. It is their shear skill and manipulation of the yarn that determines the fineness of the wool, super fine (like sewing thread) for 200 knot construction, a little thicker for 100 knot, thicker still for 60 knot. Incredible! We had quite a few laughs as Donna and I produced lumpy, broken, completely unusable yarn.

The group went on to explain all the ways the yarn can be spun. Most commercially and quickly is by using the spinning wheel. But we were also shown very simple ways that work too, like using a pencil, then using a spinning top that the shepherds use in the fields while tending their sheep. One of the women then showed us her Tibetan traditional robe that was woven from very fine hand spun yarn. Part of theTibetan costume is an apron of multi coloured stripes woven on narrow looms (6" wide) and sewn together. She showed us her tradtional piece, still well in use.

When the yarn comes in to be spun, it arrives from the hill stations in packages. It gets sorted into piles of white best yarn (from the underbelly of the sheep), to brown yarn (from the back) and to yarn that cannot be used (from behind the head). The best yarn is silky and smooth, and can be dyed to any colour. The brown yarn is good for flecky rugs and is also smooth but cannot be used for clean colours.

The wool from the back of the neck is like the white hairs on our heads - it's dead and has no lanolin or softness at all. The yarn is then washed and dried in the open air. Generally on the roof of the houses, which looks like a blanket of snow, even with icicles of wool dripping off the edge roof.

This is just one aspect of the many skilled portions of what goes into the hand made rugs we order. Every time I come to the Nepal I find I learn more and further appreciate the craftsmanship and detail that goes into our rugs.

See you Monday!
Carol and Donna

Check back soon for more stories and photos from the trip!
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Postcards from Nepal...

The following is an email from Carol - straight from South Asia. We've all been sitting on the edge of our seats, waiting to see photos of Hariti on the loom. When Carol and Donna arrived in Nepal they had a huge surprise waiting. Read on:

Nepal never ceases to amaze.

Donna and I went to the carpet mills today. Theoretically rainy season but the rain seems to conveniently fall at night and the days are glorious with some sun and then huge clouds rolling over the Himalayas to blanket Kathmandu valley. Driving in Kathmandu is exciting. Quite frequently a cow will interrupt traffic and it is a terrible crime to hit a cow as they are holy. If they decide to stop and lie down in the middle of the highway, so be it. It's hard to describe the loose relaxed driving style in Kathmandu. There are traffic police at particularly busy intersections, which helps a lot, but otherwise one just moves through the traffic flow and magically it seems to work. Donna and I dart across the street, we clearly have not
mastered the relaxed manner.

We saw Hariti today for the first time. It's fantastic - the colours in the silk and wool
just dance off the floor. The weavers at the factory, who made the rug, were intrigued with the concept that a photo from here (Nepal) was turned into a design and then a 6' x 9' rug. The translation from photo to artwork and now to finished rug is really exciting. The gleam from the broach that the child was wearing in the photo really sparkles in the finished piece. It was expected that Hariti would be in mid-production, upon our arrival. We could have been dreaming it but, were the weavers were so intrigued about production of this exciting rug that they finished it in half the time?

That's all for now,

gotta go and meet Dawa,



Stay tuned for more from Nepal. We're all so curious about Hariti...maybe they can squeeze her
into their carry-on?

Until next time,


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Extra, extra, read all about it!

It’s been a busy summer, thus far, here at Creative Matters. We’re not sure where these precious days have gone but, here we are on this hazy July morning, working hard on the new additions to our Aerial Collection and on our November gallery show. Did she just say November??? Yes she did! Did I mention that we’re still working on our regular custom design projects? And starting to cultivate ideas for the Domotex show in Hanover….and so it goes.

So, what better day for a little bit of summer excitement than today, to see Creative Matters splashed over a full page (L3 to be exact) of the Living section in the Toronto Star. It’s a great article called "Rug Designers at Top of Pile" by Star columnist Barbara Turnbull, who graced our office in early June to speak to Carol and Donna about just what it is that we do. Barbara chats with the ladies about design, colour, what we’re up to now and about Creative Matters’ impressive 20-year mark. It's a great read and a great photo (thanks to Keith Beaty at the Toronto Star).

Stay tuned for more updates on Hariti – we hope to show off some photos soon, after the ladies return from their trek to Nepal in August.

Enjoy the sun!

(and buy more carpets!)


Monday, June 16, 2008

Carol Takes the Mic

VERY EARLY last week I, Carol Sebert, had the exciting experience of going to the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) for a live radio interview with Andy Barrie on Metro Morning. I had been contacted to talk about Creative Matters and RugMark and our efforts to end child labour in carpet mills in Asia. For those non radio listeners, or those folks that may not listen to morning radio, Metro Morning is the preeminent morning radio show in Toronto and Andy Barrie is the most listened to interviewer within the GTA for the morning spot.

So I was terrified.

I drove downtown, arrived at 5:30 - there were no coffee shops open (not even Starbucks)!?, so there I sat, in the lobby of the CBC building fretting, until 5:50 when I was asked to show up. I was constantly reading my notes, getting the facts and figures memorized about child labour in carpet mills and the political upheavals in Nepal. I felt like I was in high school getting ready for a big exam and just like an exam, they reminded me that I couldn't read from my notes - sigh.

They kindly gave me my first question before I entered the recording studio. I go blank. I have to call my business partner Donna to get her input. Yup, 6:00 a.m., but she's a trooper and she's up ready to listen. I realize that I don't know what else Andy is going to ask and now the veil of fear starts to overcome me.

Anyway, I go into the studio, Andy and I have a little chat while the news is being reported (somewhere else in the huge CBC building), he's inquiring about websites and cruises our site while he asks me a few questions. Then the fellow tells me how close to be to the microphone (around 7") and I'm frozen in position ready to roll.

Cue the sound, Andy gives the intro, and we chat for a few minutes. Andy asks me about child labour in Asia, if I'd witnessed it, and I had to say no - but I'm not so naive to think that just because I'd been there it wasn't possibly happening. This is why we're so excited to be working with Rugmark. I explain how the mills put on the labels that are carefully monitored and each number can be traced to the loom and weavers who made it. How the inspectors go into the mills unannounced to ensure there is no child labour and our initiative of Hariti and the raffle are explained matter-of-factly.

Doing our part to end child labour, and ensuring that our rugs are made under sound working conditions has become really important to me. I'm thrilled to be able to tell our clients that the rugs they get are made by adult weavers. It feels so rewarding to be able to provide good employment not only in Canada with the great team that I work with, but as well, to the weavers in Nepal.

All in all it was an extremely exciting opportunity to be on the radio show I listen to every morning.

Afterwards - I had to go home for a nap.


Photographer: Romano / Stolen Childhoods (courtesy of RugMark)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Live, On Air with Creative Matters!

We’ve had an exciting week so far, here at 532 Annette! Our press release announcing the Hariti rug went off without any major hitches and now we’ve officially announced to the world that she will be raffled off in honor of World Day Against Child Labour. For those of you who don’t know, tomorrow is the official calendar day to mark this event. As mentioned before, all of the proceeds from the raffle will go directly to RugMark, (our favorite charitable organization) and one lucky person will get give Hariti a new home.

Now some more exciting news! To educate Canadian listeners (and beyond) about this important day and cause, Carol has been asked to speak live on CBC Metro Morning News (99.1 FM). She will be talking about the existence of child labour in some of the carpet factories in South Asia and how our commitment to the RugMark cause is working to end the problem. She’s very excited to be speaking with Andy Barrie and the 6:15 AM time slot (ouch) doesn’t seem to faze her as much as it fazes me! The whole CMI team has enthusiastically agreed that they are going to get up bright and early to listen live…right guys? Guys?

For those of you who miss the alarm, check out the Metro Morning archive to hear about the great things that Creative Matters and RugMark are doing.

Until next time!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Birth of “Hariti”

Here starts the journey of a beautiful idea. Hi all, it’s Ana Cunningham signing on to say a few words about the beginnings of this remarkable project. I remember the moment when Carol announced the name of rug….Hariti, the Protectress of Children. To be honest, I still get goose bumps when I hear it. Being a new mother myself, this project holds deep meaning for me. What I’ve learned through my own experience is that the instincts that come with motherhood are simple; to love, nurture and protect, which is what all children, all over the world truly need and deserve…plain and simple.

As you may have noticed in the last entry, we posted the photo of which the design was inspired by. There were a few alternate design routes we almost took during the concept stage. I’ll be posting those, along with other pics of the process just so you can get a better idea of how we searched and found Hariti.

She, along with her mission, have already made her way into my heart. I’m certain her crusade will be felt worldwide. It feels good to know that we are one step closer to making this a thing of the past….until then, let’s spread the word and unite in this worthy cause.

* * *

For us, rug design is to take our own western aesthetics and have them interpreted in the exquisite age old craft of rug making. The dichotomy that takes place when east meets west is what makes this process so distinct. The rug is a result of two cultures coming together - both using their own sense of style in a combined synergistic approach.

Initial Concept:

Hariti - Final Concept:

Here is a selection of yarn tufts, used in the Hariti rug, inspired by the vibrant colours often seen on the streets of Nepal.

The first samples arrive…a very exciting part of the process as this is where we make the adjustments to ensure our vision is met for the final rug.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by our blog. Check again soon for the next update on Hariti.

Friday, June 6, 2008


Welcome to the “official” Creative Matters blog, narrated today, by me, Erin DeMille. Creative Matters is a custom carpet design and manufacturing company situated in the West end of Toronto. We’re a hidden gem actually. Let me give you the low down on us.

Creative Matters is owned by a couple of brilliant and talented women. They set out “to be responsible for the most exceptional custom made carpets possible, utilizing the highest principles of design and production standards, in the spirit of excellence, professionalism and integrity.” Well, 20 years and thousands of beautiful custom carpets later, Donna Hastings and Carol Sebert are still at it, breaking designers hearts everywhere they go.

That’s why you’re here, actually, reading this little blog. Exciting things are happening here, in celebration of our 20th birthday. Last week, Carol and Donna were excited to officially announce their participation as a Licensed Importer and member of RugMark, a nonprofit based in Washington who works relentlessly to end child labour in the carpet industry and raise awareness of this hideous problem.

Basically, a portion of the proceeds of our hand-knotted rugs helps to fund the amazing work RugMark does in increasing consumer (and world) awareness and seriously addressing the issue of child labour in the carpet industry. In addition to this, our membership ensures that a portion of our sales goes towards the education and rehabilitation of former child weavers.

And what is a 20th birthday, without a party? So, to celebrate life, design, beautiful carpets and beautiful causes, we here at CMI have decided to create a rug. Along their travels to Nepal, Carol and Donna have documented their experiences with lovely photos of the country, the people and their stunning art of hand-knotted carpet making.

One of these photos, of a young Tibetan girl, is the inspiration for a beautiful hand-knotted, silk and wool carpet. The rug, entitled Hariti (Tibetan for “protectress of children”), will be featured in this year’s annual RugMark raffle to raise money for the organization’s mission. Of course, it will be certified child-labour-free by RugMark and 100% of the proceeds will donated to the plight.

Over the next 5 months, the team will be updating the blog. During the rug’s two-month creation we’ll be posting progress reports and images, following Hariti on her journey from Nepal to her new home – that is yet to be revealed…maybe your livingroom? Raffle tickets will go on sale in early September. Stay tuned…