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…